Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: New Zealand to relax COVID-19 public gathering restrictions from 1200 May 29. Entry ban, quarantine requirement ongoing.

This alert affects New Zealand

This alert began 25 May 2020 10:26 GMT and is scheduled to expire 08 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry restrictions, quarantine requirements, business and transport disruptions

The New Zealand government plans to relax gathering restrictions from 1200 May 29 due to a reduction in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. Authorities will allow for gatherings of up to 100 people at a variety of events, including weddings, funerals, and church services. The government relaxed nationwide restrictions May 13 to Level 2, which is the second-lowest level. A National Transition Period - which will allow authorities to enforce government orders and maintain essential supplies - is also in effect through at least August 13. Leaders have not specified if or when they will further lower the COVID-19 level; authorities are reviewing the level every two weeks.

Under Level 2, the government has begun to reopen museums, markets, playgrounds, and public pools. Sport events may also occur if they adhere to group number limits. Professional sports are also set to resume, though with limited spectators. Authorities reopened schools May 18. While authorities are not requiring residents to wear masks, officials continue to advise residents to maintain 2 meters (6.5 feet) of distance in public areas and 1 meter (3 feet) of space in areas - such as workplaces and retail outlets - where physical distancing is more difficult.

Almost all businesses can reopen in the country, provided they follow regulations on physical distancing and hygiene. However, officials are still encouraging companies to allow work from home, stagger shifts, and refrain from communal activity within workplaces. Restaurants are also allowed to reopen, though parties are limited to 10 people and can only be in contact with one server. Officials are limiting capacity at 100 people per venue, regardless of size. Bars have reopened; however, authorities are requiring establishments to seat all customers and adhere to other measures in place for restaurants. Workers at some services that require close contact with patrons - such as salons and barbershops - must wear personal protective equipment. The government is requiring all companies to collect contact information from patrons.

Public transport has mostly resumed, but riders need to abide by social distancing recommendations and avoid peak-hour travel. Some local governments are requiring or suggesting passengers wear masks on public transport. Residents can also travel throughout the country, though officials continue to warn against nonessential journeys. Air New Zealand (NZ) will expand domestic operations to include most airports, though the airline will operate only 20 percent of its usual flight schedule.

Travel Restrictions

New Zealand continues to ban all foreign nationals from entering the country. The measure includes citizens of Pacific nations; however, exceptions will continue for citizens from the region and other foreign nationals for humanitarian reasons. Resident Australian citizens, permanent residents, and resident visa holders with valid travel conditions, as well as their immediate family members, are exempt from entry restrictions. Staff are conducting health screenings of all incoming passengers. Officials continue to quarantine inbound passengers at government-designated facilities for 14 days.

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. 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.

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