Fiji and Indonesia designated very high risk countries due to COVID-19 risk

Escalating COVID-19 case numbers in Indonesia and Fiji means the two countries have been designated as very high risk, which limits travel from them to New Zealand, COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

As of 11:59pm (NZT) on 15 August 2021, travel to New Zealand from Indonesia and Fiji will be restricted to New Zealand citizens, their partners and children, and parents of dependent children who are New Zealand citizens (together with any children of those parents who are not New Zealand Citizens).

Other travellers from very high risk countries, including New Zealand residents, are required to spend 14 days outside a very high risk country before flying to New Zealand.

“In April this year the very high risk category was introduced with the aim of reducing the risk of a large number of infected people flying to New Zealand from high-risk locations. Initially India, Brazil, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea were designated very high risk, with Fiji and Indonesia now added to this list,” Chris Hipkins said. 

“Currently there are more than 24,000 active cases of COVID-19 in Fiji, with the outbreak which began in April continuing to escalate. Public health advice suggests steps must be taken now to minimise the risk of COVID-19 entering unimpeded through our border.

“We know this reclassification may disrupt some travellers’ plans and cause some disappointment. However this is necessary to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of New Zealanders.

“These stronger measures for specific countries have been enacted to reduce the risk of possible transmission, which is particularly important as countries deal with the Delta variant of COVID-19.

“The Government is continuously reviewing our border settings to ensure COVID-19 is kept out of our country and communities.”

Travellers transiting through New Zealand from Fiji to other countries can continue to do so, provided they stay airside on arrival and spend less than 24 hours in-transit in NZ.

Eligible travellers from Indonesia and Fiji to New Zealand will still have to enter Managed Isolation for 14 days upon arrival in New Zealand. Travellers from Indonesia will also be required to have evidence of a negative pre-departure test from a government approved laboratory taken within 72 hours of travel, while those coming from Fiji will continue to be exempt from pre-departure testing requirements due to the barriers faced in accessing testing facilities and delays in receiving results likely to affect travel.

The New Zealand Government encourages any New Zealanders overseas to register with SafeTravel to receive notification of any changes made to travel advice for the country or region you are in: www.safetravel.govt.nz.

Notes:

Updated requirements for travellers from Indonesia:

  • Travellers will be restricted to only New Zealand Citizens, their partners and children, and parents of dependent children who are New Zealand Citizens (together with any children of those parents who are not New Zealand citizens). 
  • Other travellers, including New Zealand residents can enter only if they spend 14 days outside a very high risk country before arriving.
  • All travellers will require evidence of a negative PCR test from a government approved laboratory within 72 hours of travelling.

Updated requirements for travellers from Fiji:

  • Travellers will be restricted to New Zealand Citizens, their partners and children, and parents of dependent children who are New Zealand Citizens (together with any children of those parents who are not New Zealand citizens). 
  • An exemption would apply for all air travellers from Fiji transiting through New Zealand subject to our existing arrangements (including that they must stay airside and are in transit in New Zealand no longer than 24 hours).
  • A pre-departure test is not required for travellers from Fiji as the problems in accessing tests and the delays in receiving results impacts on the ability of people to travel. Requiring testing also creates a potential exposure risk, and would potentially divert the limited resources available to Fiji to respond to the outbreak. Fiji is also currently requiring all outgoing travellers to have a negative PCR/Gene test within 72 hours before entry into Nadi International Airport, so there would be little to be gained from imposing an additional testing requirement.

The criteria for ‘very high risk’ designation takes into consideration a number of factors including, but is not limited to:

  • The number of positive cases as a percentage of arrivals.
  • Whether cases in the country are rising rapidly, and the predominant strain i.e. the Delta variant.
  • The level of confidence in the country’s testing measures.
  • Vaccination coverage rates in the country.