New Zealand to expand pre-departure Covid test rules

Venkat Raman

Venkat Raman

Auckland, January 12, 2021


                     Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins (RNZ Photo by Dan Cook)

The New Zealand government is set to introduce more rigid tests for arriving passengers from most countries as the threat of the virus looms large.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that travellers will be required to show negative tests prior to their departure.

New rules for UK, USA

He had earlier announced that from Friday, January 15, 2021, travellers from the United Kingdom and the United States of America will come under this regulation and must still undergo 14-day quarantine upon arrival in New Zealand.

Mr Hipkins said that his Ministry is working to extend the requirement to other long-haul flights to New Zealand.

“The new PCR test requirement will require travellers from the UK or the US to have a written form, certified by a laboratory or another form of approved evidence, showing a negative result in the 72 hours prior to departure. It will come into force on flights arriving in New Zealand after 11.59pm on 15 January. Work is underway on similar measures for travellers using most other long-haul routes to New Zealand. We expect to be in a position to provide more details within the next week – after we get a more complete picture of testing regimes and capabilities in overseas jurisdictions,” he said.

Mr Hipkins said in a Statement today (January 12, 2021) that the government will extend the pre-departure tests to more countries shortly.

Opposition pressures

The government has been under increasing pressure from opposition parties to close down borders and introduce a tighter regime to avoid another Covid-19 outbreak.

National Party Leader Judith Collins said that pre-departure testing is a crucial extra layer of defence against Covid-19.

“But Government’s piecemeal approach of only applying it two countries doesn’t make sense. There are many other high-risk countries that have widespread cases of the new Covid-19 variants. The Government cannot afford to be complacent with this new threat,” she said.

ACT Leader David Seymour accused the government of being still on holiday while Covid-19 was raging in most parts of the world.

“The calculus of Covid is changing around the world so rapidly and New Zealand appears to still be on holiday. We have got to do better than that because the stakes are a rapid outbreak and a five-week, tough lockdown to bring it under control,” he said.

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