How coronavirus quarantine will work for international arrivals

Ardern has announced new restrictions on travelers entering New Zealand.
Ardern has announced new restrictions on travelers entering New Zealand. Photo credit: Newshub, Getty

All new international arrivals into New Zealand will now be placed into quarantine or managed isolation Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday.

Before this, arrivals with no COVID-19 symptoms and with adequate self-isolation plans weren't put into quarantine.

Now the new measures will see people displaying symptoms put into quarantine, and travellers who aren't will be put in managed isolation. 

Both groups will be staying in Government funded hotels for a minimum of 14 days, but will have a different set of conditions.

"Just to be really clear... everyone who now comes into the New Zealand border must go into a hotel that has been provided by the New Zealand Government. They cannot go home for 14 days," Ardern says.

"The difference with quarantine is where people who are symptomatic and being tested for COVID-19 cannot leave their rooms, they must stay where they are.

"Someone in assisted self-isolation is able to leave their rooms for a walk or fresh air but nothing else, so they are very similar."

A network of 18 hotels has been carefully selected to accommodate the new travellers, of which one or two will be specifically set aside for people under "strict" quarantine conditions.

Ardern says the hotels chosen are particularly secure and quarantined travellers can stay there without being in contact with one another.

"At the moment we are utilising the skills of public health to particularly monitor those who are symptomatic and we are also using the police to monitor the facilities. 

"There is a reason also why we have been providing particular hotels, we need to make sure we can keep them secure and of course we have got the ability to keep an eye on people's movements in the hotel."

She says the new rules will require a "mammoth" undertaking but it is vital to protect New Zealand against COVID-19.

"Our borders will continue to be a high-risk element for New Zealand. 

"We benefit from a very large moat, but we need to make the most of it and manage and assess every single person who is coming into our country."

She said it couldn't have happened since the beginning of the lockdown with more than 40,000 New Zealanders returning to the country since then, "but we are doing it now".  

Since the beginning of the lockdown arrivals have continued to decrease with only 40 arrivals on Wednesday which is down from 6500 since the beginning of the alert level 4 lockdown.