Songs, tears and reunions: New Zealand welcomes back tourists as border reopens after two years | New Zealand


Māori songs, tearful embraces and a beloved New Zealand chocolate bar awaited worldwide guests arriving in New Zealand on Monday – the primary international company, apart from Australians, to set foot in Aotearoa in additional than two years.

Since March 2020, the arrival terminals at New Zealand’s worldwide airports have been desolate because the nation swiftly closed the border to forestall the arrival of Covid-19.

On Monday morning, the border reopened to vaccinated guests from about 60 visa-waiver international locations as a part of the federal government’s phased reopening plan.

The primary travellers and returning New Zealanders touched down simply after 6am at Auckland worldwide airport from Los Angeles, with one other flight from San Francisco arriving shortly after.

Garth and Chris Halliday cried as their son Stephen arrived together with his spouse and son, who they hadn’t seen in over a 12 months, the information web site Stuff reported. Garth mentioned the tearful airport scenes had been paying homage to these within the movie Love Truly, whereas Stephen mentioned it was “emotional” to be residence.

An American vacationer advised RNZ by way of tears they’d needed to go to New Zealand for a few years. “I’m lastly right here. It’s superb,” they mentioned.

Vaccinated worldwide guests can enter New Zealand if they’ve had a damaging pre-departure Covid take a look at. On arrival, they have to self-test for coronavirus, and until it comes again constructive there is no such thing as a requirement quarantine or self-isolate.

All different worldwide guests shall be allowed to enter New Zealand from October, until the federal government decides it’s protected to take action earlier.

The tourism minister, Stuart Nash, who greeted arrivals on the gate with a Whittaker’s Peanut Slab chocolate bar, advised 1News the reunions “nearly carry a tear to the attention”.

“Individuals haven’t seen one another for an extended, very long time – household and buddies,” he mentioned. “Now we have additionally, in fact, obtained worldwide enterprise individuals [who] are in a position to reconnect and they’re coming again.”

Nash mentioned that whereas the nation is just not but fairly again to regular, the reopening was one other step in the direction of it.

“This has been a very long time [coming] – this sends a sign we are actually open for enterprise … it’s implausible to see,” Nash mentioned.

“At the moment marks a milestone for guests from our key northern hemisphere markets within the USA, UK, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada and others, who can now bounce on a aircraft to come back right here.”

Greater than 30,000 individuals are arriving into the nation every week – a rise on numbers all through the pandemic, however effectively beneath pre-Covid ranges, which had been near 25,000 individuals every day.

Nash mentioned worldwide flight searches to New Zealand had been working 19% increased than in pre-Covid instances.

Auckland airport’s chief government Carrie Hurihanganui mentioned 9,000 passengers could be arriving and departing on 43 worldwide flights on Monday – thrice the quantity in March. The airport has boosted its employees by 40 individuals, and can proceed to take action within the coming months, she mentioned.

Hurihanganui mentioned the reunions had been giving her “goosebump moments”.

“It’s been a pleasure to be right here right this moment, and the very fact we will play a job in welcoming individuals again to Aotearoa is implausible,” she advised 1News exterior the arrivals gate.

Author Correction: Efficient and targeted COVID-19 border testing via reinforcement learning


  • Ukrainians rush to Slovakian border in desperate bid to get to safety

    The chilly winter solar rises over the Carpathian mountain vary. A kilometer-long convoy of vehicles has shaped in entrance of the most important Ukrainian-Slovak border crossing, Vysne Nemecke.

    Lots of of Ukrainians are already standing on the highest of the hill the place the highway leads right down to the Ukrainian customs — all of them are fleeing the struggle of their nation, attempting to cross the border and get to security in Slovakia in the European Union.

    The gang principally consists of girls and youngsters, from infants to youngsters. The toddlers are in strollers or of their moms’ arms. Most individuals are simply carrying backpacks, massive purses or buying luggage.

    There are hardly any males in line and those that are, are solely right here to escort their households to the border. Vasil Balchuk, a Ukrainian man in his 50s, has introduced his spouse and youngsters right here.

    “My spouse, daughter-in-law and youngsters are going to kin within the Czech Republic,” he says. “I am at the moment serving within the territorial protection of Uzhhorod. If the Russians come right here too, I’ll combat. I’ve educated within the military.”

    Like lots of his compatriots, Balchuk firmly believes that the Russian military might be defeated by Ukraine: “We have to maintain Kyiv for a number of extra days, then Putin might be pressured to barter. And an unbiased Ukraine will survive.”

    Nonetheless, he believes the state of affairs is just too harmful for his spouse and youngsters and prefers sending them to a protected international nation.

    Escape to the Czech Republic

    The ready time on the border appears countless, for hours the road of vehicles doesn’t transfer in any respect or solely at a snail’s tempo. The border clearance employees is sluggish, particularly on the Ukrainian facet. In the meantime, extra individuals from Ukraine preserve arriving with the road of vehicles getting ever longer. Troopers from the Ukrainian border guard wrestle to take care of order.

    Map of Uzhhorod and Lviv in Ukraine

    Volunteer firefighters and assist employees supply water, tea and refreshments for these ready. They’ve additionally arrange a big tent for individuals to heat up a bit. However nobody from the lengthy queue in entrance of the border crossing heads there, afraid of dropping their hard-won spot within the line.

    “Individuals, no pushing! We won’t allow you to in till we get directions,” the commander of the Slovakian border guard unit retains shouting. No exceptions are made, solely diplomatic automobiles have precedence.

    Tatiana desires to cross the border along with her 4 kids. “We’re going to Kolin in central Bohemia to go to my husband, he works on a building website there,” she explains in fluent Czech. There are a lot of individuals right here with ties to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and that is the place they wish to go.

    A checkered previous

    Carpathian Ukraine, at the moment the Ukrainian area of Transcarpathia, was the easternmost a part of what was Czechoslovakia between the world wars.

    In 1945, nevertheless, it was annexed by the Stalinist Soviet Union in a violation of the 1943 Czechoslovak-Soviet State Settlement. Because of this, 1000’s of residents left their properties for Czechoslovakia. After the collapse of the USSR, different Carpatho-Ukrainians joined them to work on building websites and in factories within the successor states of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

    As we speak, about 100,000 immigrants from Ukraine have Czech citizenship, and 200,000 stay completely within the Czech Republic. About 10,000 Ukrainians stay in Slovakia with an enormous chunk belonging to the ethnic Ukrainian minority, which settled primarily in Presov and close to the Ukrainian border. There, place names and road indicators are each in Slovakian and Ukrainian.

    bust of President Tomas Masaryk

    In Uzhhorod, there are many reminders of its Czech previous like this bust of President Tomas Masaryk

    Within the Ukrainian metropolis of Uzhhorod itself, there are a number of reminders of the Czech previous. A district with buildings of the Czechoslovak authorities from the Thirties is a throwback to the time earlier than 1945. There’s additionally a monument to the primary Czechoslovakian president, Tomas Masaryk.

    The bridge over the Uh River can also be named after him, as is an area faculty. “Masaryk’s Jubilee Faculty” says an indication in Czech on the entrance to the constructing.

    Hub for refugees

    As we speak, Uzhhorod has 100,000 inhabitants. Earlier than the pandemic, the city with its picturesque location was very talked-about with vacationers. Now, all resorts, guesthouses and hostels are absolutely booked by refugees from Ukraine.

    “I do not know the place to begin working,” says Natalia from the Hostel Kakadu. “We’re fully overcrowded, and new individuals name on a regular basis asking for lodging.”

    The hostel, she says, is now a refugee camp, housing individuals from throughout Ukraine, however principally households with kids and plenty of with pets.

    “That is the final cat. No extra pets,” Natalia tells the brand new arrivals. Though she might, she has not raised costs. “You should not earn a living from struggle,” she says. Many different locals see it the identical manner.

    Individuals in and round Uzhhorod imagine that the struggle began by Russia is not going to unfold right here. “We’re protected by the mountains of the Carpathians, that are as much as 2,000 meters excessive, and the proximity to NATO nations just like the Czech Republic or Slovakia,” Oleksandr Macucha stated throughout a dialogue with mates over a beer within the night. ”

    If the Russians wish to come right here, we are going to look forward to them within the mountains. They will not get via,” he provides

    A buddy of Macucha’s is not so certain. “The mountains cannot cease bombers and missiles. They might assault us tomorrow,” the marginally older Arseniy says.

    ‘We’re preventing for Europe’

    Each the geographic proximity to Slovakia — and thus to the West —and the historic ties of the individuals on both facet of the Ukrainian border has raised questions on why the area is being left to fend for itself.

    “We have now monuments to Masaryk right here, we used to belong to Czechoslovakia. Why do not the Czechs, Slovakians and all of Europe come to our assist now?” asks Vasil, a cab driver.

    Thousands of people waiting near the Slovak-Ukrainian border

    In latest days, the numbers of Ukrainian refugees on the Slovakian border have been rising

    An aged Ukrainian lady on the border crossing asks Slovak President Zuzana Caputova for assist. “Please assist Ukraine, Madam President. We wish to get to Europe. Putin is attacking not solely Ukraine, but in addition you, Europe. In Ukraine, we’re preventing for Europe.”

    On the border crossings, each the Czech Republic and Slovakia are serving to the refugees. Within the first week, about 70,000 refugees crossed the border into Slovakia. Most of them have moved on to Ukrainian kin and mates within the Czech Republic, whereas only some thousand have stayed in Slovakia up to now.

    “The primary stream of refugees hasn’t began but. And it will likely be a lot, a lot larger,” an official from Slovakia’s presidential workplace advised DW. “However we’re prepared, we will accommodate tens of 1000’s of refugees from Ukraine in our nation.”

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