Covid-19 border defences: pre-departure testing is extended (except for passengers from some countries)

The Point of Order Ministers on a Mission Monitor has flickered only fleetingly for much of the month.  More than once, the minister to trigger it has been David Parker, who set it off again yesterday with an announcement that shows how he has been spending our money.

He welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay Conservation Cadets – Tauira Mahi programme in Tauranga, a project supported by a grant of $3.5 million.  It is part of the Government’s Jobs for Nature scheme launched in the 2020 Budget to boost employment, protect and enhance the environment while accelerating the recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

Speaking of the virus, it’s the job of COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins to deal with the threat of a new strain sneaking through our protective defences.  And today he has announced the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands.

The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday 25 January.

Other countries will be considered for exclusion if their situations change.

Because of the high rates of infection in many countries, most global air routes are of critical concern for the foreseeable future, Hipkins said.

“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’re 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.”

Hipkins likes to remind us that New Zealand already has some of the most stringent border protection measures in the world.

“Today’s amendments further strengthen that position in line with the Government’s overall elimination strategy, and more measures can be added as necessary,” he said.

The primary obligation is on passengers to comply but airlines are 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.

From 8 February, 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 $1,000.

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