Coronavirus: New Zealand takes foreigners into custody for not self-isolating

A thermal scanner is used to check the temperature of travellers. PHOTO: REUTERS

WELLINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - New Zealand has taken two foreign visitors into custody after they failed to comply with a requirement to self-isolate for two weeks to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The pair, who arrived from South-east Asia on Monday (March 16), have been quarantined and made liable for deportation, Immigration New Zealand said on Tuesday in an e-mailed statement. If they fail to depart after seeing out the quarantine, they will be arrested and deported, the government agency said.

"This kind of behaviour is completely irresponsible and will not be tolerated," Immigration New Zealand Compliance and Verification General Manager Stephen Vaughan said. "The travel restrictions and requirements to self-isolate are in place for a good reason and will help save lives by reducing the spread of coronavirus."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern imposed tight restrictions, effective on Monday, requiring almost all arrivals into New Zealand to self-isolate for 14 days. She warned that officials will take a tough stance on those who flout the rules.

"Frankly, you are not welcome," she said, adding that those who are deported face "serious and ongoing consequences, including high chances of being refused future visa applications here and overseas."

"I consider this a warning to all those who choose to come to New Zealand," Ms Ardern said. "We take our role of being hospitable hosts very seriously, but in turn, we ask that visitors reciprocate."

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