Industry News

COVID-19 (Novel coronavirus)

In January 2020, Chinese authorities confirmed a new type of coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health is closely monitoring the situation and following guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO situation updates and the latest advice on COVID-19 is available from the WHO website.

Our thoughts are with those affected and we are thankful for the efforts of those working to prevent and contain the spread of the virus. 

Jump to: 

Current status

Advice for travellers to China 

Advice for travellers to New Zealand

Advice for operators

     ---> Risk assessment

Cruise

Immigration and visa information 

Inland Revenue

 


Current status

  • WHO has declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. 
  • The novel coronavirus is publicly notifiable. As a notifable illness, health practitioners and laboratories will be required to notify Medical Officers of Health of cases of novel coronavirus.
  • There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand to date but the likelihood of importing a case is high. The risk of an ongoing outbreak in New Zealand remains low, but the Ministry of Health is monitoring the situation closely.
  • It is important to note this is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and that this risk assessment may change as more information on COVID-19 and its epidemiology becomes available.

As of 24 February:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the restrictions on visitors travelling from, or transiting through, mainland China will continue for a further eight days.

New Zealanders coming back to New Zealand from China will be allowed to come home, but will need a quarantine period of 14 days.

Ardern said the Government was still looking at an exemption for Chinese tertiary students coming to New Zealand to resume their studies, but it would need to be practical and allow such people to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving.

Air NZ capacity reductions

Air New Zealand will temporarily suspend services to Seoul from 7 March through to the end of June. This is in addition to previously announced capacity reductions across Asia routes, predominantly related to Shanghai and Hong Kong services.

The airline has also announced Tasman capacity reductions of 3% from March through May, and reductions in domestic capacity of 2% across March and April, focused on Christchurch and Queenstown services to and from Auckland.

As of 17 February:

Travel restrictions to remain in place as coronavirus precaution.

As of 2 February:

As part of the global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the New Zealand Government has put in place temporary restrictions on travel from mainland China. Mainland China includes all of China except for Hong Kong and Taiwan. Similar restrictions have been put in place by the USA, Japan, Singapore and Australia.

You can find the New Zealand Government announcement here.

The restrictions on visitors travelling from, or transiting through, mainland China will be in place for up to 14 days, with a review every 48 hours. This is a rapidly evolving situation and it is too early to say how this is likely to progress. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade recommends that New Zealanders do not travel to any part of mainland China.

Customs has announced that all travellers entering New Zealand will now be individually processed by Customs Officers. No travellers (including New Zealand citizens, permanent residents or their families) will be allowed to use eGates. This is likely to lead to some delays in passenger processing at our international airports. Ministry of Health officials will also be stationed at customs gates and will provide advice for any returning New Zealanders who have been in China in the past 14 days.


Advice for travellers to China 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has increased the travel advisory to level 4: do not travel to any part of mainland China.


Advice for travellers to New Zealand 

Anyone who has left or transited through mainland China will now be denied entry to New Zealand, with the exception of:

  • New Zealand citizens (including those from the three Countries of the Realm: Tokelau, Niue and the Cook Islands), permanent residents and their immediate family 
  • Air crews who have been using appropriate personal protective equipment. 

This also applies to passengers who are transiting through New Zealand, unless they are New Zealand citizens, permanent residents or their immediate families. 

This is a temporary measure, in place for one fortnight from 2 February with a review every 48 hours. 

Travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days from when they left Wuhan or the Hubei Province. 

People who have come from elsewhere in mainland China need not self-isolate. You only need to self-isolate if you were in mainland China after 2 February. 

The Ministry of Health is strongly encouraging people in self-isolation, as a result of their travel to China, to register through Healthline.

Healthline is set up to register people and regularly check on their welfare and wellbeing while in self-isolation.

All travellers to New Zealand who become sick within a month of their arrival must contact the local district health board public health units, which are staffed 24 hours. 

If you are unable to reach a local public health unit, call Healthline. Healthline has Mandarin and Cantonese speakers. It is important to mention recent travel from China. 

Healthline has set up a dedicated 0800 number specifically for health-related calls about coronavirus.

  • The number is 0800 358 5453
  • Or for international SIMs +64 9 358 5453
  • People calling that line will be able to talk with a member of the National Telehealth Service and interpreters will be on hand. The number is staffed by nurses, paramedics and health advisors.

Health advice cards in both traditional and simplified Chinese are available at international points of entry. These cards provide general advice on symptoms of concern and advise ill travellers to call Healthline (for free) on 0800 611 116 and mention their travel history. Healthline has been informed and will continue to triage any symptomatic callers.


Advice for operators

We know the coronavirus situation is having a significant impact on many of our members.

This is a rapidly evolving issue and it is not possible to predict what will happen in the coming weeks. However, there have been global health scares in the past, and on those occasions the impact on travel has been relatively brief. 

If a traveller is unwell, they can call Healthline on 0800 358 5453. If a traveller is identified as having been in contact with a confirmed case then the local public health unit will contact them, assess their health and provide advice.

The requirement for self-isolation is only for people who have been in Wuhan or Hubei Province for the past 14 days. People who have come from elsewhere in mainland China need not self-isolate. 

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 places an obligation on employers to ensure the health and safety of workers (so far as is reasonably practicable). Employers should attempt to reach a sensible arrangement with any affected employees regarding a stand down period from work or denial of entry into New Zealand. 

This is a difficult and uncertain time. If cancellations are having a significant impact on your business, it would be extremely helpful if you could share that information so we can collate and assess the situation at a national level: info@tia.org.nz

Inland Revenue has advised if businesses are having any difficulties meeting their tax obligations they should get in touch sooner rather than later.

How each business deals with cancellations is their own individual commercial decision to make. However, advice from Tourism New Zealand's team in China is that "processing any cancellations with understanding and offering our welcome for future travel will set us apart and help us secure future business". At this time, we understand that most businesses are following TNZ's advice and that this is being noted and appreciated in China. 

It is essential that Chinese visitors currently in New Zealand are being treated well and are receiving suitable support to return home if they have had to change their arrangements. If you know of any issues visitors are having with their ongoing travel, particularly those returning to mainland China, please contact info@tia.org.nz.

Risk assessment advice
How insurance will react to the COVID-19 outbreak will differ for each individual business. If your business has been directly affected by the outbreak please contact your insurance broker for an in-depth review of your policy schedule and wording to qualify if any cover is provided.

TIA’s strategic partner Marsh has provided a report to help businesses manage pandemic and epidemic risk: Outbreaks, Epidemics, and Pandemics: Preparedness and Response Strategies


Cruise 

For communities welcoming cruise ships around New Zealand, important measures are in place in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in China:

  • No cruise ships have travelled directly from China to New Zealand. Many of the vessels operating in this region have been in Australasian waters for some time.
  • CLIA ocean cruise lines have introduced stringent measures including pre-screening processes to determine a person’s travel and contact history. They will deny boarding to anyone who may present an increased risk.
  • No passengers or crew are permitted to board if they have come from or visited China (including Hong Kong and Macau) in the 14 days before embarkation. These restrictions are in addition to those introduced by the New Zealand Government and other nations including Australia.
  • Ships have medical facilities and medical professionals available around the clock to provide medical care in the event of illness and to prevent disease transmission.
  • Cruise lines are in close consultation with health authorities around the world, including the World Health Organization, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health, and regional health authorities.
  • Reporting procedures are in place to ensure New Zealand authorities are aware of any relevant illness prior to a ship’s arrival.
  •  While the quarantine operation in Japan is a difficult situation, it is being managed carefully by Japanese health authorities.
  • The majority of more than 270 cruise ships globally continue to sail unaffected, including within New Zealand – but with strict precautions in place.

Immigration and visa information

The closure of Immigration New Zealand's Beijing office will inevitably cause some disruption to normal operations. INZ has advised there may be some impact on visa processing timeframes as the work is transferred. 

INZ is sympathetic to individuals who are currently in New Zealand and are unable to return to their home country due to the coronavirus outbreak and current travel restrictions. Contact INZ to discuss your options.

People with questions about their visas can call the Immigration Contact Centre from 6:00am Monday to midnight Saturday (NZT) on:

From New Zealand: 0508 558 855

From outside New Zealand: +64 9 941 4100

If an individual’s visa is about to expire, they are able to apply for a further visa, which will be assessed on a case by case basis, taking into account the current coronavirus outbreak and any relevant travel restrictions.
 
Individuals who have been granted a work visa or have travelled back to China on a holiday will not be able to travel to New Zealand until the travel ban is lifted by the New Zealand Government.

Applicants who have applied for a visa who no longer wish to, or cannot, travel to New Zealand are able to withdraw their application by contacting INZ. Applicants who withdraw their application are not able to get a refund. INZ is currently looking at options for applicants who want to change their travel dates.

For the latest information on immigration and border controls, go here.


Inland Revenue 

Inland Revenue has advised if businesses are having any difficulties meeting their tax obligations they should get in touch sooner rather than later.