Finally pre-departure testing, but needs to go further

The announcement today that from early next year all returnees from the UK and US will require pre-departure testing is a sound decision and one that the National Party has been calling for since August when we proposed a Border Protection Agency, National’s Covid-19 Recovery spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“The argument put up by the Government against pre-departure testing was not supported by many epidemiologists and today’s announcement not only vindicates that, but raises the question why we are so late to this position.

“Now that pre-departure testing is recognised as adding to our border protection it needs to be extended to all returnees not just those from the UK and the US. The Government needs to explain why this protection will not be compulsory for all returnees.

“The confirmation that returnees from the UK and the US will be required to have their first test on day 0 in New Zealand makes a mockery of the Government’s arguments as far back as August that day 3 testing didn’t need to be compulsory because day 12 testing was.

“National has been calling for day 3 testing, as the first test in New Zealand, to be compulsory, but the Government refused. Now, suddenly, a day 0 test is required.

“The reasoning for day 0 testing today is the exact same as for compulsory day 3 testing months ago. That is, as soon as possible compulsory testing should be undertaken when people enter New Zealand.

“We support compulsory day 0 testing and call on the Government to make all border testing compulsory. Ensuring day 3 testing is compulsory is important as this is when most people test positive.

“This announcement however runs the risk of creating substantial confusion around who needs pre-departure testing and which testing is compulsory.

“An easy way to simplify this is to pick up National’s Border policy which requires all returnees to be tested prior to departure, and that all border tests in New Zealand should be compulsory.”