A pair of elderly tourists say they would be like "lambs to the slaughter" if they are made to return home to England once their visas expire in September.

Marc and Liz Capaldi have been in New Zealand since March, and are fearfully waiting to find out if their visas can be further extended, saying if the Government were to send them home now it would be a likely death sentence.

"It is essential that my wife and I have a vaccine for Covid-19 before leaving New Zealand because of the dangers posed in airports and aircraft," Marc told the Herald.

Marc, 70, has a lowered immune system, and Liz, 72, has a disability, which they said put them "at very high risk" of a "severe or fatal reaction" to coronavirus.


"If the New Zealand Government forced us to leave without having had the vaccine it could be a death sentence," he said.

The Government automatically extended visas ahead of lockdown, but the extension is due to expire in late September.

The couple were already on an overseas trip when the pandemic hit, and felt it would be safer to continue on to New Zealand as planned, rather than try to make it home.

As the visa expiration date draws closer, they have been trying to figure out how to stay longer, aware airports and planes appear to be high-risk areas for exposure to the virus.

Marc had contacted the British Consulate to see whether they could get early access to a vaccine once it had finished going through human trials, but they received no clear answer, and it was not certain when a vaccine would be ready either way.

Liz and Marc Capaldi fear for their health if they were to catch coronavirus. Photo / Supplied
Liz and Marc Capaldi fear for their health if they were to catch coronavirus. Photo / Supplied

He noted the already struggling local tourism industry would suffer further if tourists were not allowed to stay longer.

The Capaldis are paying rent in Hamilton and are continuing to put their money into local businesses, something that wouldn't happen if they were sent home.

Marc argued it made more sense for New Zealand to allow tourists to stay here for that reason.


Liz said she had been following Covid-19 updates closely and was "very worried".

She felt certain they would be able to get another three-month extension to their visas but was aware the pandemic would likely still be raging after that.

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"For people who are over 65 ... travel could be a death sentence," she said.

Immigration NZ said the responsibility falls on the individual visa holder to make sure they remain in the country lawfully.

In a statement, general manager of border and visa operations Nicola Hoggs said Immigration NZ (INZ) understood the impacts Covid -19 has had on some migrants and visitors.

"If Mr and Mrs Capaldi wish to stay in New Zealand after September 18, they will need to apply for another visa that best fits their circumstances. INZ has not yet received any new visa application from Mr or Mrs Capaldi.


"Under immigration instructions, individuals are able to be in New Zealand on a visitor visa for nine out of 18 months, or 12 out of 24 months.

"It is the responsibility of the individual visa holder to ensure they remain lawfully in New Zealand."

The Capaldis are not the only couple anxious about going home.

Indonesian couple Linda Irianto and Gunawan Widjaja hope to stay in the country longer because they do not believe Indonesia is handling the pandemic well.

Irianto said they were "nervous and scared" about returning home.

"It's not clear what happens to our visas ... we really want to be able to stay here and wait. This is the only place that we can do it safely."


Irianto said there was a "high risk" of catching the virus during the journey, and there was no social distancing to speak of back home.