Government to extend temporary visas to allow travellers to stay in NZ

People in New Zealand on temporary travel visas will have them extended as the coronavirus lockdown leaves many people with no way to return home.

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Many people have no means of leaving the country now a lockdown is in place. Source: 1 NEWS

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement at a press conference this afternoon.

"The epidemic notice was presented today and ensures that temporary visas are automatically extended to late September.

"Travellers with a temporary work student visa and limited interim visa expiring before 1 April 2020, who are unable to leave NZ will be able to stay legally," she said.

Full video: Jacinda Ardern fronts media as NZ prepares for coronavirus lockdown

It comes as earlier today Foreign Minister Winston Peters told Kiwis trapped overseas to "shelter in place" until they can return.

"It has become very difficult to return to New Zealand from all around the world," he said.

"We are reaching a point where the best option for most New Zealanders offshore is to shelter in place, by preparing to safely stay where they are."

"The feasibility of Government-assisted departure flights is being considered, but there are no guarantees these will be possible in the extremely complex and rapidly changing global situation."

"Those few Kiwis who still have the option to return to New Zealand should continue to work with their airlines to seek flights as a matter of absolute urgency."

Last Thursday, New Zealand's travel advice was raised to its highest level, with Kiwis advised not to travel overseas.

He reiterated that all New Zealanders currently travelling overseas should consider returning home "immediately".

On March 18, Mr Peters said there are more than 80,000 people who came under the category of being overseas for a short-period of time.