ZB

Covid-19 pre-departure tests set to be scrapped next week

Author
Grant Bradley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 Jun 2022, 11:32am
Covid-19 tests before entering the US were ditched earlier this week. Photo / AP
Covid-19 tests before entering the US were ditched earlier this week. Photo / AP

Covid-19 pre-departure tests set to be scrapped next week

Author
Grant Bradley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 Jun 2022, 11:32am

Covid-19 test requirements for travellers heading for New Zealand look set to be scrapped from early next week.

Facing increased pressure to do away with the costly and disruptive tests, it is understood the Government is poised to announce they will go.

An announcement could be made as early as tomorrow 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.

Scrapping the requirement would bring New Zealand into line with a growing number of countries that have done away with them. The United States has just dropped them, joining much of Europe, Australia, many Pacific Island countries and growing numbers of Asian nations in no longer requiring tests.

The travel and tourism industries have been pushing hard to allow vaccinated travellers - including returning Kiwis - to be able to avoid the tests which must be supervised and are costly and disruptive.

Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran yesterday told the Herald he hoped the tests would be gone in time for the July school holidays. The tests added friction to travelling and costs.

He recently had to pay US$100 ($160) for a supervised rapid antigen test in New York.

In Brisbane they have cost travellers $72 and in London $100 and some have complained of increased difficulty finding the places to get tests.

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 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.''