Friday, July 19, 2024

NZ announces tough new COVID rules for travellers

The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. 

“Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that most global air routes will be of critical concern for the foreseeable future, and we must respond strongly to the evolving situation,” said Minister Hipkins.

“New Zealand is currently in a very fortunate position with no community cases – let alone of new variant types – but we take nothing for granted. 

“That’s why we continue to take action, with very specific steps to further strengthen our response at the air border. 

“Today I am announcing that passengers from any destination excluding Australia, Antarctica and some Pacific Island nations will be required to undergo Day 0/1 testing upon arrival in New Zealand. 

“This expands on measures already in place for passengers from the UK and US. 

“It will be progressively introduced at Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facilities over three days, starting from Monday 18 January. Routine Day 3 and Day 12 tests will continue. 

“I have also today signed further amendments to our Air Border Order which include: 

  • From 11.59pm on Friday 15 January, travellers arriving on all flights from the UK and US must have had a negative test result for COVID-19 in the 72 hours before their departure
  • The Director-General of Health is now formally authorised to and will soon expand the pre-departure test requirement to all countries and territories excluding Australia, Antarctica and some Pacific Island nations.

“New Zealand already has some of the most stringent border protection measures in the world. Today’s amendments further strengthen that position in line with the Government’s overall elimination strategy,” Mr Hipkins said.

Information and support for overseas arrivals

“The Government recognises that these new requirements designed to protect New Zealand have added to the complexity for people wanting to get here,” the Minister said.

“We thank them for their cooperation, as it’s what’s helping keep New Zealand safe while cases continue to accelerate overseas.

“We want to provide as much support and information as possible for these people ahead of their travels. Today, I am confirming that the amended Air Border Order I have signed includes the following:

  • Children under two will be exempt from pre-departure testing
  • Passengers transiting through the UK and US for not more than 96 hours before departing for New Zealand will be exempt for now from pre-departure testing 
  • RT-PCR tests, LAMP and viral antigen tests will all be accepted for pre-departure testing 
  • All tests must be processed at a laboratory
  • A hard copy or electronic copy of the test result from an accredited laboratory will be acceptable documentation of a negative test 
  • Upon arrival in New Zealand travellers will be required to produce proof of your negative test result to a Customs officer during your passport processing. Either a hard copy or an electronic copy will be accepted

“Managed Isolation and Quarantine facilities are working hard to accommodate travellers that might be affected by the new testing requirements,” Mr Hipkins said.

“Those travellers should work with airlines to rebook flights and contact MIQ for information about their booking.

“If New Zealanders overseas require consular assistance due to travel disruption, they should contact their nearest embassy or consulate.

“In addition to previously announced medical exemptions, and exemptions for very young children outlined above, people who can present a medical certificate as a past recovered case of COVID-19 will also be exempt, if they are considered no longer infectious,” Chris Hipkins said.

“We have also decided that in rare cases, the requirement of a test 72 hours in advance may be extended to 96 hours if a person’s flight has been delayed or cancelled, or test results haven’t been received in time. In this situation, the flight must be rescheduled or rebooked to depart within 24 hours.”

He said it was important to remember that all travellers, including anyone exempted from the pre-departure testing requirement, would still be required to complete the 14 days mandatory isolation which applies to all new arrivals into New Zealand.

“We’ll continue to communicate details around the new requirements via covid19.govt.nzand Unite Against COVID-19 social media, website, the SafeTravel website, and directly to airlines.”

“We’ll also continue our extensive consultation with airlines around implementation. Under the Order, the primary obligation is on passengers to comply, but airlines are also expected to play a key role in checking documentation where practicable. We recognise and appreciate the efforts of their staff,” Mr Hipkins said.

From 29 January, arriving in New Zealand without evidence of a negative approved test or medical certificate would incur an infringement offence fee or a fine not exceeding $1,000.

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