This story originally appeared on TVNZ and is republished with permission
Pre-departure testing will be introduced from Friday week for all travellers from the UK and US coming to New Zealand, the Minister responsible for the Covid-19 response announced today.
From 11.59pm on January 15, travellers from these countries will have to return a negative Covid-19 test in the 72 hours before they depart.
Chris Hipkins said travellers would need to have certified proof from a laboratory of their test result, or another form of approved evidence.
“It reduces the risk of infected passengers on international long haul flights infecting other passengers with Covid-19.”
Regardless of the results of the pre-departure test, returnees would still stay in a managed isolation facility for 14 days, he said.
Hipkins said work was also underway to extend the requirement to other long-haul flights 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.”
Hipkins first signalled the change at the end of last month.
A change will be made to New Zealand’s Air Border Order to enforce the changes.
“We know this will add to the stress of travellers wanting to get to New Zealand and have made this decision carefully,” Hipkins said.
“Whilst New Zealand is in a very fortunate position and we are all enjoying a summer … we can’t ignore the fact that Covid-19 continues to spread around the rest of the world.
“We want to do all that we can to reduce the overall number of positive cases that we have to deal with in our managed isolation facilities, and also reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading on planes and in transit.”
An additional day zero or one test will also apply for those coming from the UK and US, alongside current routine day three and 12 testing.
The early testing would allow people to be transferred to quarantine facilities earlier, if required, Hipkins said.
He said a “very limited number” of people may be exempt from pre-departure Covid-19 tests for medical reasons and if they don’t show symptoms of Covid-19.
The new requirements will come into force on flights arriving in New Zealand after 11.59pm on January 15.