New Zealand Says Almost Everyone Entering Must Self-Isolate

(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand introduced one of the most severe measures by a nation to control the spread of the coronavirus, announcing that almost every individual who enters New Zealand, including citizens and residents, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

People coming in from the Pacific Islands -- unless they show Covid-19 symptoms -- will be excluded from the restrictions that will be imposed from midnight Sunday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Saturday at a press conference in Auckland. Cruise ships will not be allowed into New Zealand until at least June 30.

New Zealand Says Almost Everyone Entering Must Self-Isolate

The decisions come after a Covid-19 Cabinet committee meeting on Saturday. New Zealand has already banned visitors from China and Iran, while people arriving from Italy and South Korea needed to self-isolate for 14 days.

The government is also encouraging New Zealanders to avoid all non-essential travel overseas to help reduce the risk of bringing the virus back with them.

“It is not realistic for New Zealand to have only a handful of cases,” Ardern said. “The international evidence proves that is not realistic, and so we must plan and prepare for more cases. That’s why we must go hard, and go early, and do everything we can to protect New Zealanders’ health.”

She said Friday that forcing arrivals from certain countries to self-isolate for two weeks had proved an effective tool because it has discouraged travel.

Mass Gatherings

New Zealand has instructed officials to step up enforcement of self isolation through measures such as spot checks, Ardern said. It is already registering all travelers into the country, and Healthline is monitoring the self-isolation process.

In addition to the measures, the finance minister will announce an economic response including a business continuity package on Tuesday, the prime minister said. The government will announce a suite of additional health measures to scale up the responsiveness of New Zealand’s health system to the virus and a public information campaign will be launched, she said.

To limit the risk of a community outbreak, Ardern said the government will also announce further guidelines on mass gatherings next week. The country canceled a memorial on Sunday for the Christchurch mosque shootings that took place a year ago.

Air New Zealand was reviewing the impact of the new measures on its operations and will adjust its capacity accordingly, it said in a statement Saturday. It expected to provide an update on network changes over the next few days.

New Zealand has six confirmed coronavirus cases.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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