Monday, June 24, 2024

Pre-departure tests grounded

Travellers to New Zealand will no longer need a COVID-19 pre-departure test from 11.59pm Monday 20 June, new COVID-19 Response Minister, Ayesha Verrall announced today.

“We’ve taken a careful and staged approach to reopening our borders to ensure we aren’t overwhelmed with an influx of COVID-19 cases,” said Minister Verrall.

“Our strategy has worked and as a result it’s safe to lift pre-departure test requirements much sooner than planned.”

The Government had intended to remove the requirement by 31 July. But with cases continuing to decline despite over 387,000 arrivals since borders reopened there is evidence this measure can now be lifted, the Minister said.

“Around 90% of international arrivals undertake their required testing once they are in the country, with only a 2-3% positivity rate. So we don’t anticipate a significant increase in border cases once the requirement is lifted,” she said.

“In addition I’m advised the challenges pre-departure tests pose to visitors are now no longer outweighed by the public health benefits.

“Factors such as the availability of and cost of getting a test are increasingly becoming a barrier for people intending to travel here, especially as other countries wind back testing availability or the requirement for a test on entry themselves..

Travellers will still be required to self-test on Day 0/1 and Day 5/6. If the result of either test is positive, they must then follow up with a PCR test.

“The end of pre-departure testing is just one of a number of changes that are being made to the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Air Border) Order to ensure our public health measures remain proportionate to the risk COVID-19 presents to the community.”

“Also from Monday evening, passengers transiting through New Zealand will no longer need to be vaccinated, nor be required to complete a New Zealand Traveller Declaration,” said Dr Verrall.

Under the new arrangements, travellers with COVID-19-like symptoms will also be able to choose between showing a negative COVID test, or a certificate from a health professional – stating that they are unlikely to have COVID-19 – before travelling.

“Another change will see the maximum penalty for breaching the Air Border Order’s vaccination requirement reduced from $4,000, to $1,000.”

“These changes represent important progress in our ongoing management of COVID-19 and our reconnecting strategy,” Minister Verrall said.

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