All travellers heading to New Zealand from the United Kingdom or the United States will need a negative test result for Covid-19, the Government has confirmed.
The new rules will come into effect from January 15.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said work was already underway to extend the requirement to other long haul flights to New Zealand.
“The new 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,” Hipkins said.
* Covid-19: Singapore Airlines’ UK-NZ service ‘primarily’ for passengers with existing bookings
* Singapore Airlines says it has approval to start flying people from the UK to NZ again
* Covid-19: Worsening global situation behind move to pre-departure testing
“A very limited number of people may be exempt, including if they have a medical certificate verifying they have been examined within 72 hours prior to their departure, but are unable to undertake a test for medical reasons and do not exhibit symptoms of Covid.
“Enforcement will be managed by an amendment to New Zealand’s Air Border Order to make arriving in New Zealand via the air border without evidence of a negative approved test an infringement offence.”
The new rules would provide extra assurance to New Zealanders at a time when infections from the virus appeared to be accelerating overseas, Hipkins said.
Managed isolation and quarantine would remain the most important part of boarder security, Hipkins said, but this new step was a further precaution.
“The pre-departure test is an additional requirement to the day zero/day one testing and stay in their room in MIQ requirement for arrivals from higher risk countries that came into force last Friday.”
Travellers from the UK and the US would still have to go through New Zealand’s 14-day quarantine regime.
“We intend the test to also have an added benefit of encouraging extra-cautious behaviour before people fly and during flights and layovers that will minimise exposure to the virus.”
Many countries have introduced tougher restrictions on travellers from the UK after a surge in people in that country testing positive for a Sars-CoV-2 virus variant thought to spread more easily than other strains.