Traveller requirements released today mark another milestone towards the reopening of our international border, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.
“Two weeks ago, we announced our reconnecting plan to make it easier to enter New Zealand and today we’re releasing the requirements for travellers ahead of the first step at the end of this month,” Mr Hipkins said.
“These precautions for entry have been updated in light of the latest information about Omicron and continue our approach of putting safety first, as we shift into new phases of our Omicron Response plan.
“From 28 February, travellers to New Zealand – starting with Kiwis and other current eligible travellers from Australia – will be able to enter without staying in MIQ as long as they are fully vaccinated, return a negative test before flying and spend seven days in self-isolation, taking two rapid antigen tests.
“These actions will lower the risk of COVID-19 entering the community while allowing more families to reunite, and will assist with the economic recovery and immediately address worker shortages.”
He said self-isolation requirements would be kept under review, with a view to reducing them over time.
Before they fly, travellers will have the option of three types of pre departure tests: a PCR test within 48 hours of flying, or a supervised RAT or LAMP (Loop-mediated isothermal amplification) test within 24 hours.
“Allowing use of RATs recognises that PCR tests are difficult to get in many countries, with the lower sensitivity mitigated by halving the time people could get infected after being tested. Adding a LAMP test provides more options in a constrained global market for tests,” said Mr Hipkins.
Minimum vaccination requirements have been updated and will apply to travellers aged 17 years or older.
“From the end of March, a New Zealand Traveller Declaration will require travellers to complete an online declaration prior to travel and upload evidence of vaccination and a negative pre departure test. Before then, they will be manually checked by airline staff at check-in and by Customs staff on arrival,” the Minister said.
“They will need to confirm where they are staying in New Zealand, and cannot stay in a place with shared group facilities such as a backpackers or a hostel.”
On arrival in New Zealand
On arrival at the airport, vaccinated travellers will need to download the NZ COVID Tracer app and will be given three RATs. They will then:
- travel directly to their accommodation – avoiding visiting people and entering shops and businesses
- wear a mask until they reach their accommodation, and ensure anyone picking them up wears a mask
- sanitise their hands regularly and
- maintain physical distancing as much as possible.
The settings for self-isolation reflect public health advice that arrivals have a similar COVID-19 risk profile to close contacts of cases in the community. As a result, they will follow similar protocols as community close contacts in phase 2 of the Omicron plan.
“These include an isolation period of seven full days and reporting the results of two rapid antigen tests – one on day 0/1 and one on day 5/6. A positive result will need to be followed with a PCR test to monitor for any new COVID-19 variants,” said Mr Hipkins.
“They can form a bubble with family or friends, who can continue to go to work or school, but must minimise contact with others as much as possible. No visitors are allowed.
“Travellers will be able to temporarily leave self-isolation in special circumstances, such as visiting terminally ill relatives, to access urgent healthcare or to attend court hearings, but will be encouraged to take a RAT if visiting a high risk location such as a hospital or aged care facility and need to follow public health measures.
“Eligible groups approved by Sports NZ or the Ministry of Culture and Heritage may train or rehearse outside of their place of self-isolation. Any approval may have specific requirements and guidance.”
The full details for the traveller journey and self-isolation process for individuals and groups are here.