The Government is moving to provide further protection against the chance of COVID-19 entering New Zealand through the maritime border.
“Yesterday I instructed officials to consult with the maritime sector around tightening of the requirements for international maritime crew entering the country,” Health Minister Chris Hipkins said.
“Ultimately, this will mean mandatory testing for all replacement maritime crew arriving in New Zealand, regardless of the time they spend in transit. This will begin from next week, with any maritime crew in managed isolation for more than 24 hours getting a COVID-19 test.
“At the same time we will also test maritime crew departing New Zealand, providing end to end protection in this area.
“Our current border requirements have served us well, with recent cases quickly detected and contained – but there is no room for complacency. As our knowledge of COVID-19 grows, we are always looking for potential improvements.
“The Government recognises mandatory testing may present some challenges for the maritime sector. Officials will continue to work with key stakeholders to ensure these new measures do not disrupt supply chains or put undue pressure on our managed isolation facilities.
“This new requirement is a strong, yet carefully considered change which ensures that our maritime border is safe, and that to the greatest extent possible we reduce the risk of COVID-19 being spread, while also protecting our economy.
“We are also taking further steps to ensure the Ministry of Health’s infection prevention and control guidelines are being followed consistently. I want to acknowledge the work the maritime industry and ports have done so far to implement changes for both international seafarers and workers.
“These changes balance the need to keep COVID-19 out at the border, while at the same time protecting the supply chain in order to ensure the flow of import and export goods to and from New Zealand,” Chris Hipkins said.