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A number of expat Kiwis have been left stunned after waking up to find New Zealand has returned to alert level 2, and Auckland alert level 3.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement last night after confirming four cases of community transmission in South Auckland.

The restrictions will last three days and end at midnight on Friday.

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The sudden news surprised many Kiwis overseas after New Zealand was touted around the world as a safe haven from Covid-19.

However, a number of expats who fell victim to abuse and vitriol for wanting to return home, questioned the approach to move back alert levels.

"How is the New Zealand plan sustainable? Is the idea to be caged away until another country figures out a vaccine? What happens if that vaccine doesn't come for years? Genuinely curious," one Kiwi in the UK wrote.

Another responded, writing: "I'm really curious of that too? How long also do we have to wait until we no longer have to pay to visit our family?"

Expats faced a backlash of criticism from Kiwis in New Zealand for wanting to return home without paying for managed isolation.

A number voiced their concerns of feeling unwelcome at the time.

A number of expat Kiwis have been left stunned after waking up to find New Zealand has returned to alert level 2, and Auckland alert level 3. Photo / File
A number of expat Kiwis have been left stunned after waking up to find New Zealand has returned to alert level 2, and Auckland alert level 3. Photo / File

Some of those reacting to the news of community transmission in Auckland say the shoe is now on the other foot.

"Looks like we are safer off here in London team. Should there be a quarantine for all arrivals from NZ?" one expat joked.

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Another added: "How ironic for this to occur on the same day they start charging fees."

A third said: "We are f***ed either way! NZ can't afford another lockdown and we have no herd immunity because [Jacinda Ardern] got scared."

"So the government literally tells Aucklanders (where there are likely a number of infections) not to move - so they all decide to travel to other regions? And some of these people literally have told us not to come home, as we will 'spread the virus'? You couldn't make it up!" a fourth expressed.

However, some expressed concern for friends and family back home in New Zealand.

A number of expats, who live in the UK where there are more than 1000 new cases of Covid-19 every day, are fearful New Zealanders won't take the virus seriously.

"Appreciate the humour. But in all earnest, this could get a lot worse for our friends and family back home. The general public might not take this seriously after all their complacency. Reach out, check in," one said.

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One concerned expat added: "The virus is still not completely understood, some viruses never fully die out and can hide in places like your spine and then reappear sporadically for the rest of your life. This is why it's madness when some people think they'll be ok if they get it ... They simply don't know the long-term effects yet."

The reaction comes as some overseas describe the four new cases and Auckland's move to alert level 3 as "New Zealand's worst nightmare".

Level 3 means public facilities, businesses, restaurants and cafes will shut - as will schools unless they have students whose parents are essential workers - and most people will be required to work from home.

The area covered by level 3 is the Super City - from Wellsford in the north to Pukekohe in the south.

"Act as if you have Covid, and as though people around you have Covid," Ardern said.

Pharmacies and supermarkets will remain open, and Ardern said there was no reason to panic-buy.

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