New Zealand will further tighten border measures to combat the global spread of more transmissible variants of the Covid-19 virus.
From Jan 18, almost all people entering New Zealand will need to be tested for the virus within the first 24 hours of arrival, Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday (Jan 12) in Wellington.
Health officials are also putting in place requirements for almost all travellers to New Zealand to have a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of their departure.
“New Zealand already has some of the most stringent border protection measures in the world,” Mr Hipkins said. “Today’s amendments further strengthen that position in line with the government’s overall elimination strategy.”
New Zealand reported 60 cases among new arrivals in the first 10 days of January, following 106 cases in December. All were caught during the mandatory 14-day stay at isolation hotels that every returnee faces. Infected people must be quarantined until tests return negative and they no longer have symptoms.
Mr Hipkins said travellers from Australia and some Pacific Island nations will be exempt the pre-departure and day one tests. There will also be exemptions for young children and for those who can present a medical certificate as a past recovered case and are assessed as no longer infectious.
The broader rules build on existing conditions on arrivals from Britain and the United States, who have faced day one testing since the start of the year and are required to stay in their isolation hotel room until a negative result.
Travellers from Britain and the US arriving after Jan 15 must also provide evidence of a negative test.
The exact date when the pre-departure test requirement for other nations will be imposed is still being finalised. But those arriving in New Zealand from Jan 29 without evidence of a negative test will incur a fine, Mr Hipkins said.