- New Zealand has 24 active cases as at 9:00 AM NZST on 30 July. The country had earlier become a COVID-19-free nation in June before new cases emanated.
- Border closures are in place, and only residents and citizens of the country, with their family, are permitted to enter NZ. However, there are a few exemptions.
- Before entering the community, returnees must stay in isolation or quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.
- After completing 14 days in isolation and with a negative test report for COVID-19, people can enter the communities.
- The government has restricted returning residents and reduced the number of international arrivals due to COVID-19.
According to the New Zealand Ministry of Health as of 30 July 2020 (9:00 AM NZST), there are a total 1,560 number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in the country with 24 active ones. In the last 24 hours, one new case has been reported.
While the country has successfully managed the spread of the virus, a few cases of residents returning from abroad carrying the infection has led the NZ government to continue maintaining strict and adequate border control.
Border restrictions are a crucial tool to prevent the introduction and potential spread of new COVID-19 cases from overseas. All individuals entering the country are presently isolated or quarantined (depending on the symptoms) in a government-controlled facility for a minimum of two weeks on their arrival. Through this approach, the country intends to ensure no new COVID-19 cases are introduced into the larger groups of people.
Let us shed some light on what border control measures the country is taking-
In Alert Level 1, individuals within New Zealand can travel and mix more freely. However, it is more critical than ever that country’s borders are carefully controlled to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
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People entering the country must stay in managed isolation or quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days and complete a health assessment. After completing the quarantine period, people need to show a negative COVID-19 test before entering the community.
In a few circumstances, a COVID-19 test may not be considered suitable, and instead, a health evaluation will be completed.
Only residents and citizens of New Zealand with their children and partners are permitted to enter the country. This comprises the citizens of Australia, the Realm nations (such as Tokelau, Niue, the Cook Islands), and permanent ordinarily resident in New Zealand.
NZ borders are currently sealed for all travellers who want to travel to the country either by air or sea. However, there are two exceptions to the closure-
- The person qualifies as someone to whom the border closure does not apply.
- The person has a critical purpose for travel while the border is closed and grant him/her a visa which recognizes this.
People from any other nations cannot enter New Zealand at this time, if they have grounds for exemption, for instance being essential workers or for any medical reason. Also, these persons will require to submit an application to Immigration New Zealand for an exception to the border closure.
Isolation and Quarantine
Before entering the community, people must stay in isolation for a minimum of 14 days and then they can go after submitting their negative COVID-19 report. This is a vital measure for preventing the transmission of COVID-19 into the communities.
On arrival in the country, if returnees have no symptoms, they will be taken to a managed isolation facility. If they have symptoms, they shall be taken to a quarantine facility. The New Zealand government stated that it is not required to book a space in the facilities in advance.
Moreover, the New Zealand government is taking care of all the expenses during quarantine facilities.
Negative COVID-19 Test Report
New Zealand government is taking every measure to prevent the COVID-19 spread in the country. As per the government, after completing 14 days isolation, a final health check of returnees shall be carried out. This medical checkup is to confirm-
- Negative case of COVID-19 or is not a probable case.
- No symptoms of COVID-19.
- Temperature lower than 38 degrees Celsius.
Once the returnees tested negative for COVID-19 after completing the quarantine or isolation period, they can go to the communities in the country.
New Zealand to Restrict Returning Residents
In early July, the government of New Zealand stated that the country is looking to restrict the number of citizens returning for lessening the burden on overflowing quarantine facilities.
The border of New Zealand is shut down to everyone except for returning citizens, even though some other exemptions are also in place for business and compassionate reasons.
On 7 July 2020, the government of New Zealand asked its national airline not to take new bookings for at least three weeks amid the COVID-19 turmoil, as reported by Reuters.
Decelerating pace of International Arrivals due to COVID-19
Kiwis could be stopped at the border of the country after the government focussed on slowing down the movement of international arrivals due to COVID-19.
Increasing pressure on the COVID-19 border regime of New Zealand has compelled the government to restrict places for New Zealanders entering the country.
Moreover, the government has hit a deal with Air New Zealand to reduce the number of places available for international arrivals, provided the pressure on compulsory isolation facilities.
On 7 July 2020, Air New Zealand stated that new bookings for the next 3-weeks had been put on hold. Further, the airline company indicated that it would align daily arrivals with the available capacity at isolation facilities.
With all the precautionary measures being followed and border control in place, New Zealand is leaving no stone unturned to avoid the second wave of COVID-19. Further, NZ’s health ministry is working with other agencies to make sure the country has access to a safe and effective vaccine to combat COVID-19 pandemic soon, possibly within 12-18 months.