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Immigration Minister reinforces need to follow strict entry requirements

The Minister of Immigration is reminding tour and other event organisers of the importance to have all COVID-19 border requirements approved and in place before trying to enter New Zealand.

It follows a charter cruise vessel’s decision to set sail for New Zealand last month before ensuring all those on board had the necessary visas for entry to this country.

"When the cruise ship, Le Laperouse, was given permission by the Director General of Health, under a Maritime Border Order, to travel to New Zealand that approval was on the condition that Le Laperouse obtained the necessary visas from Immigration New Zealand. That was made clear to the ship’s agents at least twice.

"I understand that INZ received a request for border exceptions for 90 foreign crew members on board the vessel 48 hours before it began its journey to New Zealand. INZ granted visas to 29 of the crew who were considered essential for the operation of the ship to travel to New Zealand for the purpose of delivering it to a business and for refit or refurbishment. Immigration declined visas for the other 61 crew who were not considered essential for the purpose of the ship’s travel here. The ship should have waited for decisions on visas to be completed to ensure those on board complied with New Zealand immigration requirements when the ship entered our border.

"I want to reiterate the Prime Minister’s clear message last week that where people are organising events, such as concerts or tours, they need to have all the necessary paperwork and COVID compliance requirements sorted before they make bookings, sell tickets, or try to bring workers into New Zealand," Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi says.

"New Zealand’s strict COVID border controls have been in place for many months now to keep New Zealanders safe and control spread of the virus.

"Where businesses ignore those border requirements, or try to find ways to get around them, they put other New Zealand businesses and communities at risk.

"We have processes for granting exceptions to allow entry under certain criteria, but people need to ensure that applications they make for a border entry exception meet the criteria.

"The Government absolutely supports Kiwi businesses’ enterprise and resilience, and we have been taking measures and implementing initiatives, including changes to various visa settings, to help that, but everyone has had to accept that COVID brings complications and processes that didn’t exist before the pandemic. It’s critical that we all follow those processes, give adequate time to ensure the requirements of those processes are met, and all play our part to make sure New Zealand avoids the worst effects of this pandemic," Kris Faafoi says.

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