Govt strengthens New Zealand’s COVID-19 response
- Tougher infringement regime for Order breaches
- Introduces minimum standards for testing providers
- Changes to ensure smoother invoicing and fees system
The Government is making a number of legislative changes to further strengthen New Zealand’s response to COVID-19.
“As we look towards a phased reopening of the borders and to reconnect with the world, we have to ensure we have a strong legislative base to help us respond when we do get cases in New Zealand,” COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.
“This includes ensuring the testing network is well set up for continued high numbers of testing, any future surge or need for further capacity, and that we have security of testing materials even if there was to be a global shortage.
“We are introducing a tougher penalty system for breaches of COVID-19 Orders that would put others at greater risk from COVID-19, which will include a scale depending on the severity of the breach.
“And we are ensuring the right people have the right powers to act, so the system can be more agile in responding to an outbreak.
“Over the past year we have identified some areas of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act which could use improvement, so we are making changes to ensure the legislation is future-proofed, flexible and responsive.
“Most New Zealanders are familiar with key Orders already provided for under the existing Act – for example requiring returnees to go into MIQ and for people to wear masks on public transport – and the Amendment Bill will not be changing any of these,” Chris Hipkins said.
The COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill (No 2) includes:
- Strengthening the infringement regime for COVID-19 breaches:
- Increase fees and fines to provide for a greater deterrent to breaches of the Order and better reflect the grave risk to the community when people do the wrong thing
- Establish separate fees and fines for individuals and businesses
- Expanding the purpose for which Orders under the Act can be made to keep people safe from COVID-19
- Providing for more efficient management of COVID-19 testing infrastructure. This will improve quality control and create minimum standards for all testing providers
- The ability for the Chief Executive of MBIE to make rules about the day-to-day operation of managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities to ensure that they can continue to operate effectively
- Changing the default liability for MIQ charges so that everyone will be liable for charges unless exempted in regulations
- People who enter MIQ will be required to provide accurate contact information for invoicing purpose
“The intention to switch the MIQ fees regime around so that everybody who is required or chooses to isolate in an MIQ facility must pay the charges unless they are exempt, as well as making it an offence not to provide accurate information, will enable a much easier and smoother invoicing system for all involved,” Chris Hipkins said.
“The Amendment Bill was read for the first time tonight and will be referred to the Health Select Committee. Submissions to the Health Select Committee will open in due course.”
For further information about the COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill visit the Ministry of Health website.
To get a copy of the Bill and find information on how to make a submission please visit the Parliament website.