New Zealand extends pre-departure tests to all arriving passengers

Venkat Raman

Venkat Raman

Auckland, January 19, 2021

17 countries exempted; effective January 25; $1000 fine from February 8, 2021

        Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins (RNZ Picture by Samuel Rillstone)

All travellers to New Zealand from anywhere in the world other than 17 countries in the ‘Exempt List’ will be required to undergo pre-departure testing at the place of their departure, the New Zealand government announced today.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that the extension of pre-departure testing will come into effect after 11.509 pm on Monday, January 25, 2021 and will be in force until further notice.

In addition, effective February 8, 2021, 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.

Exempt Countries

The exempt countries include Antarctica, Australia, The Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.

Mr Hipkins said that other countries will be excluded in the future if their situations change.

He said that with the high rates of inflation seen in many countries, most global air routes are of critical concern for the foreseeable future.

Preventing Covid spread

“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 are 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,” he said.

According to Mr Hipkins, New Zealand already has stringent border protection measures and that the amendments further strengthen that position in line with the government’s overall elimination strategy.

(RNZ Photo by Liu Chen)

More stringent measures possible

Mr Hipkins said that the government will add more measures as deemed necessary and that it would be the primary obligation of all 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.

“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,” he said.

Mr Hipkins said that the government acknowledges that these new requirements add complexity for people keen coming to New Zealand but it was imperative to keep New Zealand and New Zealanders safe from the Virus that continues to spread in many countries.

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

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