Government announces new rules for travellers to NZ

By Te Ao - Māori News

The government is putting in place a suite of new measures to protect New Zealand, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.  

These include requiring passengers travelling to New Zealand to undergo Day 0/1 testing upon arrival and soon also requiring passengers (in addition to those travelling from the UK and USA) to have a negative pre-departure test result before flying here.

These new measures will not apply to flights from Australia, Antarctica and some Pacific Island nations.

“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.

“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."

The minister said this expands on measures already in place for passengers from the UK and US.

He said the new requirement would be progressively introduced at MIQ facilities over a three day period, starting from Monday 18 January.  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."

Information and support for overseas arrivals

Hipkins said the government recognises that the new measures added to the complexity for people wanting to get here and, therefore, wants to provide as much support and information as possible for people ahead of their travels.

This included information that:

- 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; and

- 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."

Hipkins said travellers that might be affected by the new testing requirements 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.

The minister also said an exemption would be made for people with a medical certificate who had recovered from Covid-19.

“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.”

An allowance would also be made where a person's flight had been cancelled or delayed.

“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 reinforced that all travellers would still be required to complete the 14 days mandatory isolation which applies to all new arrivals into New Zealand.

The minister said details about the new requirements will be made available via covid19.govt.nz and Unite Against COVID-19 social media, website, the SafeTravel website, and directly to airlines. 

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.