COVID-19: Chris Hipkins reveals why the Government isn't subsidising pre-departure coronavirus tests

Those travelling to New Zealand from the UK and the US will have to front the cost of their soon-to-be-mandatory pre-departure coronavirus test and won't be Government subsidised, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.

Hipkins confirmed on Sunday that from January 15, people travelling from the UK and the US must prove a negative test before they can cross the border into New Zealand's managed isolation facilities.

He said the measure will reduce the risk of people getting on planes and bringing COVID-19 to New Zealand.

All travellers from the UK and US will need evidence they've had a negative COVID-19 test in the 72 hours before they board a flight to New Zealand - costing about NZ$400 in some cases.

"People will, ultimately, need to secure their own pre-departure tests - I have been advised that there is a rapid testing station at LAX, at the airport there so people can get their PCR tests at the airport in Los Angeles but they'll need to meet the costs themselves," Hipkins told a news briefing on Sunday.

He said the requirements are part of the reality of international travel during a pandemic.

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Photo credit: Getty

"It's more difficult and it's more expensive than it would be in normal times, and people are going to find themselves subject to quite a number of tests.

"International travel is not an easy thing at the moment. That is certainly to be expected when we're dealing with a global pandemic."

Chris Hipkins and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Chris Hipkins and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty

Hipkins is confident 72 hours is enough time for travellers to receive a negative COVID-19 test result.

"Our timeframe is longer than [in] some countries - we're by no means the most draconian in terms of the testing we're requiring pre-departure," said Hipkins.

The measures are being put in place to keep everyone safe, he said.

"It's to keep passengers, staff, and everybody else safe."

COVID-19: Chris Hipkins reveals why the Government isn't subsidising pre-departure coronavirus tests
Photo credit: Getty

The testing announcement came after six cases of the new and more highly infectious strain of coronavirus from the UK was found in New Zealand, the Ministry of Health said on Sunday.

Scientists have said the UK variant of coronavirus is known to spread more quickly but there's no evidence it's more harmful.