New Zealand will impose new travel restrictions requiring all travelers entering the country—including New Zealand citizens and residents—to unconditionally self-isolate for 14 days.
“The Pacific Islands are exempted from this measure. They are the only ones,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters on Saturday after an emergency cabinet meeting. “Anyone from this country, though, will be required to automatically self-isolate should they exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival in New Zealand.”
Small South Pacific island countries have no reported cases to date. New Zealand has a large South Pacific islander population.
The restrictions go into effect midnight Sunday local time and will be reviewed in 16 days.
New Zealanders are also being advised to avoid all non-essential travel abroad.
Ardern says the latest decision means New Zealand will have “the widest-ranging and toughest border restrictions of any country in the world.”
“We do not take these decisions lightly,” she said.
“In addition to restrictions on air travel, we are also taking firm measures on cruise ships,” the New Zealand prime minister added. “As of midnight tonight, we’re issuing a directive to all cruise ships not to come to New Zealand until at least June 30, 2020—that is for incoming cruise ships—at which time the directive will be reviewed.”
New Zealand has six confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the latest case confirmed on Saturday. The country has not reported any deaths.
Earlier on Saturday morning, the country canceled a national remembrance service that would mark one year since the attack on Christchurch mosques, citing coronavirus concerns.
“This is a pragmatic decision. We’re very saddened to cancel, but in remembering such a terrible tragedy, we shouldn’t create the risk of further harm being done,” Ardern said in a statement.