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Teacher stranded in Vietnam

New Zealand’s strict quarantine rules are biting those nationals who can no longer stay in their host country. Since the pandemic started, Kiwis wishing – or needing – to come home have had to book a room in one of the country’s managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities, where they must stay for 14 days. They can only purchase a flight home once they have received their quarantine room voucher. However, to get the voucher, they must wait in a virtual lobby online, where queue places are randomly allocated.

Many who have been stuck in Vietnam since the covid outbreak in March 2020 have now received notification from the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Safe Travel service that their visa extensions will not be renewed and they must leave the country by tomorrow (Saturday 15 January). Some were given as little as five days’ notice. Their options, if they can’t get a MIQ, are to try to get a Vietnamese business visa, which means finding a sponsor, or go to a third country.

One of those affected is English teacher Tamara Smith, who entered the country with a two-year teaching contract in May 2019 and settled in Da Nang, central Vietnam’s largest city. Due to the pandemic, she was given a visa extension, but these will no longer be recognised and she must leave with virtually no notice and rising panic levels as she has tried and failed to get a MIQ room.

Speaking to stuff.co.nz, the teacher said, “I have never been closer than position 4,000 in the [MIQ] queue, which is really disheartening. 

“I never in my life believed that New Zealanders would be barred from entering their own country. I am gobsmacked to see how long the Government has and is planning to keep MIQ in place. It feels like a de facto ban on entry for all but the lucky few. My anxiety has been terrible and I haven’t been able to sleep properly since May last year.”

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Liz Granirer
Liz Granirer
Liz has been a journalist for many years. She is currently editor of EL Gazette and has previously edited the magazines Young Performer, StepForward and Accounting Technician; been deputy editor on Right Start magazine; chief sub editor on Country Homes & Interiors; and sub editor on easyJet Traveller, Lonely Planet and Family Traveller magazines, along with a number of others.
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