New Zealand has announced that pre-departure testing will no longer be a requirement for travellers entering the country.
The current COVID-19 requirement of returning a negative test result before boarding a flight was expected to stop on July 1, but Covid-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall said things were going so well that the country could afford to bring it forward.
“We’ve taken a careful and staged approach to reopening our borders to ensure we aren’t overwhelmed with an influx of COVID-19 cases. Our strategy has worked and as a result it’s safe to lift pre-departure test requirements much sooner than planned,” Verrall said.
“We had intended to remove the requirement for travellers to have a pre-departure test by 31 July. But with cases continuing to decline despite over 387,000 arrivals since borders reopened there is evidence this measure can now be lifted.
“In addition I’m advised the challenges pre-departure tests pose to visitors are now no longer outweighed by the public health benefits.
“Factors such as the availability of and cost of getting a test are increasingly becoming a barrier for people intending to travel here, especially as other countries wind back testing availability or the requirement for a test on entry themselves.”
Verrall said the country is keeping “in place a set of border surveillance measures for detecting any possible new variants of COVID-19″.
In addition to pre-departure testing no longer being required, unvaccinated travellers will also be allowed to enter New Zealand.
Verrall announced other changes to travel restrictions including penalty reductions and a choice for travellers who feel unwell.
“Travellers with COVID-19 like symptoms (e.g. Hayfever) will also be able to choose between showing a negative COVID test, or a certificate from a health professional ― stating that they are unlikely to have COVID-19 ― before travelling,” Verrall said.
“Another change will see the maximum penalty for breaching the Air Border Order’s vaccination requirement reduced from $4,000, to $1,000.
“These changes represent important progress in our ongoing management of COVID-19 and our reconnecting strategy.”
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said New Zealand is “open and ready to welcome” winter tourists.
We announced this morning that from 20 June, travellers to New Zealand will no longer need a Pre-Departure Test!
I’m thrilled this could safely happen before the winter tourism season. My message to all of those dreaming of travel: we’re open & ready to welcome you ✈️???????? pic.twitter.com/tXM9LxpzmL
— Stuart Nash (@Stuart_NashMP) June 15, 2022
The move comes as New Zealand enters the country’s ski season and Australia’s school holidays kick off.