Deadline for domestic travel extended

People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today.

Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have been inundated with people trying to get home before the original cut-off date of midnight Wednesday for non-essential workers. A decrease in passenger numbers to accommodate level 3 physical distancing measures has reduced the ability of passenger services to carry more people.

Phil Twyford said it was unlikely the increased demand could be met before midnight Wednesday.

“The Government recognises New Zealanders are trying to do the right thing by returning home ahead of the country moving to level 4.

“There has been further pressure on domestic passenger services from international tourists who are completing self-isolation and declared COVID-free to move to their final destination in New Zealand.

“That’s why the Cabinet COVID Committee this afternoon agreed to extend the deadline for non-essential workers and international tourists to keep using domestic passenger services until midnight Friday. After this time, services will only be provided to essential services and workers, including freight services.

“International travellers will only be allowed to use domestic passenger services to reach their final destination to comply with lock-down requirements.

"International travellers will only be allowed to use domestic passenger services during the extended period to reach their final destination once they have completed 14 days isolation and are declared Covid-free.

“These airplanes, trains, and ferries are expected to implement physical distancing and other protective measures that are appropriate for their services.

“I want to thank passengers for their patience as we urgently worked through this unintended consequence of the battle to fight COVID-19,” Phil Twyford said.