UK based Ocean Cruising Club has said that on September 19th it received official notice that foreign yachts waiting to leave the Pacific will not be allowed in to New Zealand and would have to make alternative arrangements.
The club said that it had been liaising with New Zealand immigration and maritime agencies in an attempt to work out a compromise that would allow up to 300 yachts to stop off at New Zealand on the seasonal cruising route.
Yachts traditionally head south to New Zealand each summer. Many conduct refits at yards around the country. The ocean cruising club was told that maritime border restrictions applied under the current Covid-19 public health response. New Zealand has, once again, appeared to have banished New Zealand from its shores, and clearly has no intention of allowing a reappearance of the virus within its borders.
The New Zealand Director General of Health determined that a potential future cyclone did not provide sufficient basis to warrant an exemption from the order. “Therefore there is no compelling need for the ships in question to arrive in New Zealand for humanitarian reasons”, the ministry said.
A Ministry spokesperson said “The proposal for 300 to 350 yachts or small craft with up to 1,000 people to arrive in New Zealand from the Pacific, many from areas of high Covid-19 risk, would pose significant public health risk.” Ships and boats in distress would be allowed to enter New Zealand, but the spokesperson said that “any deliberate attempt to contravene this rule could result in harsh penalties”.