Additional testing to strengthen border and increase safety of workers

COVID-19 Response

New testing measures are being put in place to increase the safety of border workers and further strengthen New Zealand’s barriers against COVID-19, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

“These strengthened rules – to apply to all international airports and ports – build on the mandatory testing orders we’ve been implementing since August and will make our border safety even stronger. They are the latest steps in the Government’s extensive and ongoing programme to develop and refine our COVID-19 response,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The rules extend testing to workers not previously covered and increase the frequency of testing for some higher risk workers

“They include:

  • Increasing the frequency of testing for ship pilots and some other port workers who carry out work on affected ships, from fortnightly to weekly,
  • Increasing testing frequency for some workers who carry out work on aircraft that have arrived from outside of New Zealand, from fortnightly to weekly.
  • Mandatory fortnightly testing for port workers not already covered,
  • Mandatory fortnightly testing for airport airside and landside workers not already covered who interact with international arriving or transiting passengers,

“This Order, the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Required Testing) Amendment Order (No 3) 2020, also clarifies the expectations of both employers and employees who are subject to the mandatory testing orders.

“Employers will be expected to keep records about their employees’ testing requirements and their compliance, and facilitate employee testing. Employees will be expected to provide information to their employers for record-keeping purposes,” Chris Hipkins said.

“I’d like again to pay tribute to the people who work at our ports and airports and managed isolation and quarantine facilities. They are some of the real heroes of our COVID-19 response.

“Our border workers are among the most scrutinised and tested people in the country.

They are doing an incredible job, day in and day out, keeping COVID-19 out of our community. In return, we must do everything we can to keep them safe.”

These requirements come into force from midnight on 26 November 2020.

Border testing orders background

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Required Testing) Order 2020 (the Order) came into force at 11:59pm on 29 August 2020. The Order enabled routine mandatory testing of border workers, initially requiring a round of one-off testing for higher-risk border workers before rolling out regular routine testing of different occupational groups through phases 1 and 2 of the Order.

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Air Border, Isolation and Quarantine and Required Testing) Amendment Order 2020 came into effect from 11.59pm Sunday, 4 October 2020. It included significant changes to isolation requirements for international air crew entering New Zealand and introduced new mandated requirements for New Zealand-based crew.