Getting vaccinated is the most effective measure against the transmission of COVID-19, and the risk of serious illness or death.
To further reduce the possibility of the virus getting through our border, we are introducing the requirement for air travellers aged 17 and over, who are not New Zealand citizens, to be fully vaccinated to enter New Zealand.
This is an important step in our Reconnecting New Zealand strategy.
Travellers will be required to declare their vaccination status when registering with the Managed Isolation Allocation System, as well as presenting proof of vaccination or a relevant exemption to their airline and to Customs officers once they land.
The COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group has recommended that a full course of any of the 22 COVID-19 vaccines approved by a government or approval authority, with the last dose being at least 14 days before arrival, will be acceptable at this stage. Guidance will be prepared on what will qualify as evidence of a vaccination or an exemption.
Most people coming to New Zealand tell us they are already vaccinated. This requirement makes it formal and will provide an extra layer of protection at the border. It will work well alongside the announcement today that everyone on board an Air New Zealand aircraft travelling internationally will need to be fully vaccinated from February 2022.
Everybody arriving will still be required to complete 14 days in Managed Isolation and Quarantine, and all travellers except those from exempt locations will still need to have evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result from an accredited laboratory within 72 hours of their first scheduled international flight.
Even a single case presents a risk. However, high and wide-spread vaccination rates will mean more freedoms, fewer restrictions, and the day-to-day confidence that protection from the virus brings.
This requirement will be an interim measure while development continues on the traveller health declaration system, which will introduce the ability to digitally verify the vaccination status of people arriving into New Zealand.
The requirement will be brought in with an amendment to the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Air Border) Order (No 2) 2020 (Air Border Order).
Those subject to the requirement who fail to present proof of vaccination may be subject to an infringement notice under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Act 2020, which under a Bill currently before the House would see infringements carrying a maximum fine of $4000.
The requirement will not apply to New Zealand citizens, children under the age of 17, and those who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.
RSE workers coming to NZ as part of the one-way QFT arrangement with Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu will also be exempt due to existing vaccination requirements, as will refugees. There will also be a process to seek exemptions from the Director General of Health on humanitarian grounds, or where people travelling with New Zealand citizens have not had the opportunity to be vaccinated within the timeframes.