Israel Adesanya Left Stranded By New Zealand COVID-19 Response

Israel Adesanya was recently in Las Vegas with teammate Brad Riddell to corner another teammate in Carlos Ulberg on Dana White’s Contender Series.

However, due to an issue involving the fighter’s home country of New Zealand and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, all three are stranded due to a voucher system recently introduced by the country, meaning they aren’t able to quarantine for a return to their home country until December.

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Eugene Bareman, who is the coach for all three, says they don’t want special treatment, but would like to get some form of communication from New Zealand officials.

"There are people in far worse situations than ourselves, and we really feel for those with dying or sick relatives or children, and people who’ve lost jobs or homes, who are now facing even greater stress due to the lack of capacity in quarantine," Bareman says to News Hub. "Clearly, there’s been an oversight if people like us who booked while overseas, prior to the system being introduced, weren’t informed by either the airlines or immigration as soon as the system went live. Given the Government is effectively using airlines to screen people for vouchers before allowing them to board a plane for New Zealand, it's difficult to understand why the airlines weren’t also compelled to contact people with pre-existing bookings scheduled to arrive after November 3."

"The lack of capacity is also concerning. An influx of people returning home at Christmas is entirely predictable and you have to question why more focus wasn’t put on increasing that capacity," he continued. "I want to be clear that we support the Government’s efforts to keep New Zealand COVID-19 free, but it seems there were gaps in communications and capacity planning, which will see many NZ citizens unable to return and undergoing more anguish in what has already been a difficult year. The team is not asking for special treatment, they simply want to draw attention to the plight of many Kiwi citizens in more difficult situations than they are in and we don’t currently believe is being voiced."

A Managed Isolation and Quarantine spokesperson would tell New Hub that it was the fighters' responsibilities to secure a voucher for their quarantine process before leaving for the United States.

"MIAS [Managed Isolation Allocation System] helps us manage the timing of people entering New Zealand so we can guarantee their place in a managed isolation facility, which is necessary to keep them and all New Zealanders safe," the spokesperson said. "Everyone arriving in New Zealand is now required to present a voucher to airlines in order to board their flight - or have a special exemption from using the system. We’ve worked hard to ensure those travelling knew they needed to book a space in managed isolation and airlines have also been providing this information to their passengers. Thousands of people with existing airline bookings booked their vouchers in the first hours that the Managed Isolation Allocation System went live in the beginning of October."

"An extensive awareness campaign has been underway since September. This has resulted in people from 212 different countries accessing our Managed Isolation Allocation System website. Since the campaign started on September 25, around 95 percent of passengers arriving at airports have had a voucher," the rep added. "Managed Isolation and Quarantine will not grant returning New Zealanders a voucher just because of who they are or what they do. Everyone is treated equally - that’s fundamental to the system. We need to ensure that there is fair and open access to all New Zealanders returning home. There is a very restrictive emergency allocation criteria - this is a last resort option and the threshold is extremely high.  To apply, you must be a NZ citizen or resident-class visa holder without a voucher who has an imminent threat to your life or serious risk to health, which requires urgent travel to New Zealand. We expect that very few approvals would be granted and it is important to note that people still need to complete their 14 days' managed isolation."

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