Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: New Zealand to ease controls to Level 1 nationwide, except Auckland, from 2359 Sept. 21. Auckland to shift to Level 2 from 2359 Sept. 23.
Alert Begins 21 Sep 2020 07:59 AM UTC
Alert Expires 05 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Business and travel disruptions
New Zealand authorities plan to ease ongoing restrictions to Alert Level 1 nationwide, except Auckland, from 2359 Sept. 21 amid decreased coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Under Alert Level 1, authorities will lift most domestic protocols. Limits on gathering size and social distancing requirements for businesses will cease. All companies, including entertainment venues, can reopen without restrictions on staff or customers. Employees may also return to offices. Officials continue to encourage residents to wear protective face coverings when in public. The government mandates all businesses and public facilities to post unique quick response (QR) codes at entrances to improve contact tracing; the requirement will remain in effect regardless of future alert levels.
Additionally, Auckland will relax measures to Alert Level 2 from 2359 Sept. 23. Controls include requiring residents to wear protective face coverings on public transport and limiting gatherings to a maximum of 100 people. Workplaces can open on-site with protocols, such as physical distancing and record-keeping, in place; officials encourage companies to continue utilizing staggered shifts and work from home arrangements and limiting communal activity within workplaces. Individuals must observe physical distancing of at least one meter when in public; a two-meter distance is encouraged in clothes shops, retail stores, and supermarkets.
An entry ban for most foreign nationals remains in place. Officials lifted a requirement for partners and dependents of citizens to return to the country together, provided they have a visa based on the relationship or usually reside in New Zealand. Such travelers and diplomats posted in New Zealand can enter the country without obtaining prior government consent. Authorities permit partners, dependents, and legal guardians of citizens without visas to enter the country. Entry is also possible for humanitarian reasons, Australian citizens and permanent residents that live in New Zealand, and Samoan and Tongan citizens on essential trips approved by their governments.
The government is also permitting some critical workers to travel to New Zealand on short-term visas valid up to six months. Companies must apply for a visa and demonstrate that the employee is working on infrastructure projects or possesses technical skills unobtainable within the country. Additionally, the government will allow some long-term, essential workers provided they meet short-term entrance criteria and earn twice the median salary in the country or participate in a government-backed event. The government requires people from these groups to receive permission before traveling to the country and will review applications for travel on a case-by-case basis.
Authorities continue to quarantine inbound passengers at government-designated facilities for 14 days. Travelers must test negative for COVID-19 and undergo two additional tests before departing facilities. Officials have also extended the ban on cruise ships entering New Zealand ports; cargo and fishing vessels will be allowed to load and unload and undertake repairs. Vessel crews arriving in New Zealand must spend 14 days in quarantine unless they had been on the vessel for 28 days before docking at the port. Officials have instituted a quarantine fee structure for inbound travelers. Most travelers allowed into the country will have to pay NZD 3,100 (USD 2,050) for the first person and NZD 950 (USD 628) for each additional adult and NZD 475 (USD 314) per additional child. Officials do not charge for children under three years of age if they are staying with another person. New Zealand citizens, residence visa holders, and Australian citizens and permanent residents who typically reside in New Zealand are exempt from costs if they departed before Aug. 11 and intend to stay in the country longer than 90 days upon their return. Temporary visa holders are also exempt from fees if they were residents in New Zealand as of March 19 and were outside the country before that date. Companies can cover the quarantine costs for inbound critical workers.
Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.
Postpone travel to New Zealand if affected by restrictions. Confirm flight status if allowed entry into the country. Follow all official instructions and allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Plan to undergo quarantine if entering the country. Defer all nonessential travel to Auckland. Make allowances for increased employee absenteeism and other business disruptions. Limit domestic trips to government-approved travel; be prepared to explain reasons for travel to authorities.
Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.