Coronavirus: New Zealand to eliminate pre-departure Covid-19 tests for incoming passengers
- Scrapping the requirement would bring New Zealand into line with a growing number of countries that have done away with Covid tests
- Travel and tourism industries have been pushing hard to allow vaccinated travellers to be avoid tests which must be supervised and are costly and disruptive
Facing increased pressure to do away with the costly and disruptive tests, it is understood the government is poised to eliminate the procedure.
An announcement could be made as early as Thursday that would require law changes and mean the tests could no longer be required by the start of next week.
A spokesman for new Covid-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall said the future of the tests had been discussed at Cabinet on Monday.
The travel and tourism industries have been pushing hard to allow vaccinated travellers – including returning New Zealand nationals – to be able to avoid the tests which must be supervised and are costly and disruptive.
Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said he hoped the tests would be gone in time for the July school holidays. The tests added friction to travelling and costs.
Earlier this week National’s Covid-19 Response spokesman Chris Bishop said New Zealand should follow the lead of the US and drop all pre-departure testing requirements for incoming passengers.
“Australia did away with pre-departure testing weeks ago, and now the United States is following suit. The world is moving on, but New Zealand insists that anyone coming here must present a negative test before getting on a plane.”
He said the former Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins had admitted the value of the pre-departure testing is now low and a month ago said that its “days were numbered”.
“Pre-departure tests made sense when we were pursuing elimination. But they make zero sense when we already have thousands of cases a day at home,’’ said Bishop.
“New Zealand businesses and tourism operators are crying out for support, and this is a simple, logical way to remove a barrier to coming here that is past its use-by date.’’