By RNZ News
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced late today wide-ranging travel restrictions which mean as of midnight tomorrow anyone coming into New Zealand will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
The only exemption is for people coming from the Pacific islands, but New Zealanders returning from overseas will not be exempt.
The measures will be reviewed in 16 days and the government will provide more advice for self-isolation and an economic package for businesses next week.
Until now, foreign travellers arriving from mainland China and Iran have been banned from entering the country. Travellers from South Korea and Italy have been asked to self-isolate for two weeks on arrival.
As of midnight Sunday every person arriving will have to isolate themselves for 14 days, Ardern said. That will mean New Zealand will have the strongest restrictions in the world, she said.
She said the measures will be reviewed in 16 days and there will be more measures and advice for self-isolation next week.
All cruise ships are also being asked to not come to New Zealand until June 30. It does not apply to cargo ships.
Handful of cases ‘not realistic’
The prime minister said it is not realistic for New Zealand to only have a handful of Covid-19 cases.
However, “New Zealand has today relative to other countries a small number of cases,” Ardern said.
We have two choices as a nation, Ardern said. One is to let Covid-19 roll on, the other is to go hard on measures to stamp it out. It is in our power to slow it down, she said.
New Zealanders’ public health comes first and this constitutes an unprecedented time.
“Cabinet made far reaching and unprecedented decisions today because these are unprecedented circumstances. As of midnight Sunday every person entering New Zealand, including returning New Zealand citizens and residents, will be required to enter self isolation for 14 days – everybody.
“The Pacific are exempted from this measure, they are the only ones. Anyone from this country though will be required to automatically self isolate should they exhibit any Covid-19 symptoms on arrival in New Zealand. All of these restrictions will be reviewed in 16 days’ time.
“This decision will mean New Zealand will have the widest ranging and toughest border restrictions of any country in the world. We are also encouraging New Zealanders to avoid all non-essential travel overseas – this helps reduce the risk of a New Zealander bringing Covid-19 in.”
Cruise ship directive
In addition to restrictions on air travel, as of midnight today the government is issuing a directive to all cruise ships not to come to New Zealand until at least 30 June at which time the directive will be reviewed – this is for incoming cruise ships.
“It doesn’t apply to cargo ships, marine or air crew, so that sea and air freight can remain open for imports and exports.
She wanted to ensure that essential airfreight such as pharmaceuticals could continue to enter the country.
“We do not take these decisions lightly, we know these travel restrictions will place a significant strain on the aviation industry and we anticipate some routes will reduce or cease for a period of time.”
This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.