Extension of pre-departure Covid test likely 'within the next few weeks' - Hipkins

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

The requirement for most travellers entering New Zealand to provide a negative Covid-19 test before departure could be implemented within the next few weeks.

Alongside the announcement to extend an extra Covid-19 test within managed isolation to most returnees entering the country, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins revealed that could soon also be the case for pre-departure tests. 

From this Friday at 11.59pm, travellers coming into New Zealand from UK and US would need to return a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before departure. 

However, the Government was working to make that a requirement for all countries, except those coming from Australia or some Pacific nations. 

"It will certainly be sooner than a month, within the next few weeks," Hipkins said. 

"We're aware while in New Zealand we're enjoying the good Kiwi summer and we have a lot of freedom, around the world Covid-19 is accelerating," Hipkins said. 

Hipkins said they were "working as quickly as we can" to roll out the requirement. 

ACT and National had been calling for the test requirement for months. When asked why this was being implemented now, Hipkins said there were logistical challenges.

"In some places getting a good, reliable pre-departure test is incredibly challenging. 

"I'm satisfied they can do that in the US and the UK. Yes, it's inconvenient but they can do it.

"Some of those other countries it is more difficult, so we're making sure we can have systems in place where people can get the tests before we make that a mandatory requirement." 

The possibility of people providing fraudulent test results was one of the issues Hipkins was working through. 

"That has been one of the barriers to implementing this policy earlier."

He added that the requirement of pre-departure tests had been questioned by microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles on RNZ, who said it could create issues such as the availability and affordability of tests.

"There's no guarantee that when you get tested and you test negative, that you then wouldn't become positive en route to the airport, or on the plane," she told RNZ.