“There are millions of people around the world stranded by COVID-19 and we are continuing to do our part to help them get home,” Mr Peters said. “Accordingly, Cabinet agreed yesterday that New Zealand would seek reciprocal transit arrangements with a number of countries to enable our citizens to transit each other’s airports.
“One barrier to New Zealanders getting home at present is the transit restrictions imposed by a number of countries. We continue to seek assistance from these countries to enable New Zealanders to transit through their airports in order to come home.
“At the same time, New Zealand has received an increasing number of requests from foreign governments to allow the transit through Auckland of their nationals, including those currently in Pacific Island countries, so that they can connect with commercial or evacuation flights to their home countries,” Mr Peters said.
“We will be adopting a strict criteria in determining who can transit New Zealand, which protect public health and meet New Zealand’s COVID-19 level four requirements.”
Those requirements include that transiting passengers:
• Must remain airside;
• Cannot enter New Zealand;
• Have a maximum 10-hour window to leave on their onward flight;
• Must have no COVID-19 symptoms, no contact with a suspected or confirmed case and not be awaiting test results; and
• Must have confirmation from the airline that they will be permitted to board for their entire journey – as well as confirmation prior to boarding that their destination country will permit arrival.
On March 25, as part of COVID-19 restrictions, New Zealand airports were closed to transiting passengers, with the exception of Australian citizens. Yesterday’s Cabinet decision opens up the potential for transits by foreign nationals, in a carefully managed way.