Government poised to announce new wider-ranging pre-departure Covid-19 testing rules

The Government is poised to announce wider-ranging new pre-departure rules which could mean all travellers will be required to test negative for Covid-19 before coming to New Zealand.

At the moment, only those travelling from the US and the UK are required to test negative – those rules come into force on Friday.

But the Government appears poised to announce those rules will be broadened.

“We expect to able to provide further details shortly,” a government spokesperson said this morning when asked about a worldwide expansion of the current testing restrictions.

On January 3 – when the UK and US testing rules were announced – Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said the Government was working to adapt these measures across all incoming travellers.

The wider rules would be announced “after we get a more complete picture of testing regimes and capabilities in overseas jurisdictions”, he said.

Hipkins added that the Government would be in a position to provide more details on this “within the next week” – that was on January 3 and no such details have yet been provided.

It is understood that the Government has been working through the new rules, poised to be announced, for a number of weeks.

This morning, National leader Judith Collins called for a blanket extension of all pre-departure testing rules.

“The threat to New Zealand from the highly infectious strains of Covid-19 which are ravaging the UK and South Africa must be taken seriously,” she said this morning.

Given the increased risk of the new strain – which has already been detected in New Zealand’s managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities – Collins said it’s time for action now.

“If New Zealand doesn’t act fast then we will be looking at a complete border closure with the UK or another economy-crippling lockdown here.

“Pre-departure testing is a crucial extra layer of defence against Covid-19 but the Government’s piecemeal approach of only applying it two countries doesn’t make sense.”

Covid-19, she said, isn’t slowing its march.

“If we want to enjoy the rest of our Kiwi summer then the Government must make pre-departure tests a requirement for all travellers immediately.”

Yesterday, Collins was urging the Government to accelerate its rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination, given the increased risk of the new variant which is devastating the UK and South Africa.

National wants front-line workers, such as those working in managed isolation and quarantine facilities (MIQ), to get the vaccine as soon as possible.

“New Zealand has fallen behind the rest of the world with its vaccine programme and the Government needs to explain why.”

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