Pre-departure testing extended to all passengers

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins. Photo: RNZ.

The Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands.

The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday, January 25, to minimise disruption for those passengers with imminent departures. Other countries will be considered for exclusion if their situations change.

“As we signalled last week, given the high rates of infection in many countries, most global air routes are of critical concern for the foreseeable future," says COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

“New Zealand is currently in a good position with no community cases, but we continue to take action with very specific steps to further strengthen our borders in response to what we’re seeing overseas.

The expansion of Day 0/1 testing at Managed Isolation and Quarantine to all passengers to New Zealand – except for those coming from Australia, Antarctica or most Pacific Islands – is now in operation. All travellers are still required to complete 14 days mandatory isolation, including routine Day 3 and Day 12 tests.

“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, and more measures can be added as necessary,” says Hipkins.

“The primary obligation is on passengers to comply, but airlines are also expected to play a key role in checking documentation where practicable at the start of someone’s journey. We recognise and appreciate the efforts of their staff."

Customs staff will check passengers’ arrival cards and inspect test documentation for all arrivals except for those who are exempt.

“Last week, I set out exemptions and provided information to assist travellers with the new requirements via and Unite Against COVID-19 social media, and directly to airlines. They will apply to all the countries that have been added.

“It is critical we acknowledge that these new requirements add complexity for people wanting to get here – and ensure support is in place. We thank them for their cooperation, as it’s what’s helping keep New Zealand safe while cases continue to accelerate overseas.

“So far, after four days of flights arriving with travellers from the US and UK, we are seeing extremely high levels of compliance. It’s great to see people doing the right thing for their fellow passengers, airline staff and the New Zealand public."

From February 8, all passengers arriving in New Zealand except those from exempted countries without evidence of a negative approved test or medical certificate would incur an infringement offence fee or a fine not exceeding $1000.

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Posted on 19-01-2021 16:08 | By

It’s just pandering to frightened fools who have no grasp on the actual risks. Political posturing is all. 600 cases out of 100,000 who have come back in. One person in every 1600! And they are in MIQ anyway. Now everyone has to get a pre departure test. And other countries have jumped on the bandwagon even if they are awash with the virus. Tit for tat. Total BS and just politics and money making. I feel sorry for frightened little Kiwis. They don’t realise that it will have to be let in at some point, or if not, accept that economically NZ will be soon going backwards relative to other countries. NZ thought they would ride it out until it went, like SARS and MERS. But it’s not going anywhere. Here to stay.

@The Professor.

Posted on 19-01-2021 15:14 | By morepork

I share your concern for the integrity of our borders and have been advocating pre-flight testing (carried out by the airlines), on any flight leg that ends in NZ, since March last year. It is now even easier and they don’t need days of incubation; there are 15 minute Covid tests that are available and reliable. And I agree with your stance on fines ... in fact, I’d say: "no test, no travel" Airlines should refuse boarding then and there for anyone who returns positive or refuses the test. We can all agree that the progress which has been made here in NZ must be fiercely protected.


Posted on 19-01-2021 12:34 | By hapukafin

better late than never,the public been calling for it.every day there has been cases in isolation.,one day some of these bugs are going to escape,they dont care who they attach themselves to

Too soft!!

Posted on 19-01-2021 12:27 | By

The airlines should be 100% responsible for ensuring people have the correct documentation. If someone enters NZ without the necessary clearance then the passenger AND the airline must be fined - the airline heavily. The up to $1000 fine should be a fixed - no room for movement - $1000 fine for each individual passenger not complying. This has to be taken seriously and a strong message sent out to the world. I’m all for pre-departure quarantine for 5 days in fact - paid for 100% by the person travelling. We have come too far to let COVID into our community.