Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: New Zealand to restrict entry for residents amid limited quarantine capacity from July 7. Most foreigners remain banned. Flight disruptions.

  • Alert Begins: 07 Jul 2020 05:47 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry restrictions and quarantine requirements

Summary
New Zealand is restricting entry to the country for residents and citizens due to limited capacity at coronavirus disease (COVID-19) quarantine facilities as of July 7. Officials say that almost 6,000 people are in quarantine, with a few thousand expected to arrive in the coming days. New facilities are being arranged but must meet health specifications. The government has agreed with national carrier Air New Zealand (NZ) to limit new bookings for returning residents through at least July 28 and is reportedly working with other airlines to reduce passenger volume. Authorities will allow passengers with booked flights to enter the country, provided there is available capacity; however, airlines could rebook some passengers.

The government previously announced it would allow select foreign nationals to enter the country from July 1. 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 prior consent from the government. Authorities are also permitting partners, dependents, and legal guardians of citizens without visas to enter the country, as well as humanitarian travel, Australian citizens and permanent residents who live in New Zealand, and Samoan and Tongan citizens on essential trips approved by their governments. Officials are also permitting critical workers to enter the country on short-term visas valid up to six months. Companies must apply for a visa and demonstrate that the worker's technical or skills are unobtainable within the country, or they are working on infrastructure projects. 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.

New Zealand continues to ban most foreign nationals from entering the country. Staff are conducting health screenings of all incoming passengers. Officials continue to quarantine inbound passengers at government-designated facilities for 14 days; companies will have to cover the costs for inbound critical workers' isolation. Quarantined passengers must test negative for COVID-19 and undergo two additional tests before departing quarantine. Authorities have also extended the ban on cruise ships entering New Zealand ports. Cargo and fishing vessels will be allowed to load and unload, as well as undertake repairs. Vessel crews arriving in New Zealand are required to spend 14 days in quarantine unless they had been on the vessel for 28 days before docking at the port.

Domestic Restrictions

Authorities have maintained the alert for COVID-19 at Level 1, despite reports of imported cases in recent weeks. Officials have lifted most domestic restrictions; limits on gathering size and social distancing requirements on businesses and transport have ended. All companies - including entertainment venues - can reopen without limits on staff or customers. Employees may return to offices. A National Transition Period - which allows officials to enforce government orders and maintain essential supplies - remains in effect through at least Aug. 13. The government continues to encourage people to keep track of their movement in the event officials needs to trace any cases that emerge. Although voluntary, officials have also asked businesses to continue posting quick response (QR) codes for residents that wish to continue participating in electronic contact tracing.

Officials previously lifted all restrictions on travel throughout the country. Air New Zealand (NZ) has resumed service to all domestic destinations. However, reduced flight volume could continue depending on demand. Jetstar (JQ) partially resumed domestic flights, July 1, offering service at airports in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Queenstown. NZ and JQ plan to increase domestic services as demand rebounds.

Advice
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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