COVID-19: Epidemic notice and Orders

Information on the Epidemic notice and Orders issued by the Government to manage specific matters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last updated: 26 September 2022

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COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020

The COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 (the COVID-19 Act) was passed as standalone legislation to provide a different legal framework for responding to COVID-19. The Act allows the Minister of Health (or the Director-General of Health in specified circumstances) to make orders under section 11 to give effect to the public health response to COVID-19 in New Zealand.

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Self-isolation Requirements and Permitted Work) Order 2022

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Self-isolation Requirements and Permitted Work) Amendment Order (No 2) 2022 (New)

This order is made by the Minister for COVID-19 Response under sections 11 and 15(1) of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 in accordance with section 9 of that Act.
This order amends the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Self-isolation Requirements and Permitted Work) Order 2022 (below). It comes into force at 11.59 pm on 11 March 2022.

Director-General of Health Notices pursuant to the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Self-isolation Requirements and Permitted Work) Order 2022

This notice is issued by the Director-General of Health pursuant to clause 30 and clause 27A of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Self isolation Requirements and Permitted Work) Order 2022 for critical workers delivering a critical health service who are confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19. It comes into force from 20 March 2022.

The following notices are issued by the Director-General of Health pursuant to the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Self isolation Requirements and Permitted Work) Order 2022 for critical workers. They come into force from 24 February 2022.

The following notices are issued by the Director-General of Health pursuant to the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Self isolation Requirements and Permitted Work) Order 2022 for critical workers. They come into force from 2 March 2022.

Specification of COVID-19 Vaccines Under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020

Sets out the doses of each COVID-19 vaccine or combination of COVID-19 vaccines specified in the Schedule to the notice that are required for a person to be “vaccinated” for the purposes of all or any legislation in, or made under, the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 that uses this defined term.

The schedule does not apply to vaccination obligations under the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Air Border) Order (No 2) 2020.

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Infringement Offences) Regulations 2021

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Infringement Offences) Regulations 2021 are made under the COVID-19 Act. The regulations set out three classes of infringement offence and penalties for each class and applies the classes to the infringement offences in the COVID-19 Act.

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Infringement Offences) Amendment Order 2021

This omnibus COVID-19 order assigns a class and penalty to each of the current infringement offences (except for the COVID-19 Protection Framework).

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Amendment Order 2021 assigns the class and penalty to infringement offences in the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Order 2021 (known as the ‘traffic light system’).

Notice of specified ‘COVID-19 tests’ for the purposes of clauses 19A and 19A of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 11)

Under clause 19A of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 11) 2021 (the Order), it is a requirement that certain persons crossing the Alert Level boundary must carry, and produce on the request of an enforcement office, evidence of having had a COVID-19 test administered no more than seven days before beginning their journey. This clause provides for the Director-General to specify the particular kinds of examinations or tests which are acceptable for this purpose by notice in the New Zealand Gazette and publication on a publicly accessible New Zealand Government website. Additionally, clause 19B imposes certain duties on employers of workers crossing the Alert Level boundary.

This notice sets out the kind of tests that the Director-General of Health has specified as ‘COVID-19 tests’ for the purposes of clauses 19A and 19B of the Order.

Authorisations of Enforcement Officers under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020

The Director-General may authorise suitably qualified and trained individuals to carry out any functions and powers as enforcement officers under section 18 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020. The Director-General has currently authorised three classes of persons as enforcement officers. Those classes of people are:

  1. WorkSafe inspectors
  2. Aviation Security officers
  3. Customs officers
  4. members of the Armed Forces
  5. COVID-19 Enforcement Officers (Maritime Border).

The authorisations describe the class of people that are authorised as enforcement officers, the powers (available under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act) that they may exercise, and the functions which they may carry out:

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021

The first Vaccinations Order came into force on 30 April 2021, requiring that all work in MIQ settings be undertaken by people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. This also applied to many government officials undertaking work in other high-risk border settings.

The expanded Vaccinations Order, which made it compulsory for most border workers to be vaccinated, was announced by the Government on 8 July 2021 and came into effect at midnight on 14 July 2021. 

The Ministry of Health then announced the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Amendment Order (No 3) which required:

  • education and health and disability staff to be fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022
  • corrections workers to be fully vaccinated by 8 December 2021.

See COVID-19: Mandatory vaccinations.

This amendment came into effect on 25 October 2021 and applied to the health and disability sector, education services and prisons.

It still applies to certain health and disability workers.

Any unvaccinated workers who have previously been assigned to work in these settings will need to discuss alternative options with their employers. They will not be able to continue to work in high-risk environments until they are vaccinated.

Workers covered in Schedule 2 part 10 of the Vaccinations Order were not covered by this mandate – this includes: 

  • workers at a food and drink business or service 
  • workers who carry out work at gyms 
  • workers who carry out work at permitted event, regardless of whether the work is carried out before people arrive at, or leave, the permitted event 
  • workers at close-proximity business or service 
  • workers who carry out work for a tertiary education provider at tertiary education premises that are located in an area described in Part 1 of Schedule 7 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Order 2021.

On the 14 February 2022, an amendment came into to effect, changing the mandated date for Health and Disability workers to receive their booster vaccination, from 11.59pm on Monday 14 February to 11:59pm Thursday 24 February 2022. 

On 25 March 2022, an amendment came into effect to expand the recognised list of COVID-19 vaccines under Schedule 3. This includes the addition of Novavax as a recognised primary course vaccine.

On 4 April 2022, an amendment came into effect removing Education and employers and their workers covered in Section 10 of the Vaccination Order, from mandatory vaccinations. It also removed Defence and Police staff unless they work at the border, or in the health and disability sector and are therefore still covered by the Vaccination Order

On 16 May 2022, an amendment came into effect that expands the recognised list of COVID-19 booster vaccines under Schedule 4 and introduces a new process for PCBUs (employers) with mandated workers to recognise and administer an exemption from vaccination for their workers for 100 days, if they can verify a COVID-19 positive test result.

On 30 June 2022, an amendment was announced removing Corrections workers and Border workers from mandatory vaccinations. This took effect at 11:59 pm on 2 July 2022. The amendment also removed Health and Disability workers who are not public facing in certain healthcare environments and/or do not provide healthcare services directly to health consumers. This took effect at 11:59 pm on 7 July 2022.

On 12 September 2022, the revocation of the Order was announced. This took effect at 11:59pm on 26 September 2022.


Epidemic Notice

On Monday 23 March 2020, the Prime Minister issued an Epidemic Notice under section 5 of the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006. This was based on advice received from the Director-General of Health in response to the increasingly complex and far-reaching response to COVID-19.

On 12 September 2022, the Prime Minister renewed the Epidemic Notice until 20 October 2022 pursuant to section 7 of the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006.

What is an Epidemic Notice?

This Government has chosen to go hard and go early in the response to COVID-19 for public health reasons. The package of measures introduced since 14 March have helped New Zealand take a precautionary approach to managing COVID-19.

An Epidemic Notice is a public policy tool to help Government agencies respond swiftly and effectively in a rapidly evolving situation. An epidemic notice enables the use of a number of ‘special powers’ in legislation.

In particular, it will allow for the extension of people currently in New Zealand on temporary visas that will expire between 1 April 2020 and the end of the Epidemic Notice. See the section below for more details.

More special powers may be used as the situation progresses and this page will be updated when they are.


Border Orders

Maritime Border Order

The Maritime Border Order 2020 was revoked at 11:59pm 12 September 2022.

Health Act 1956

Air Border Order

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Air Border) Order 2021 was amended at 11:59pm 12 September 2022 to remove all vaccination and testing requirements for travellers to New Zealand (including for air crew), and to allow people exhibiting the symptoms of COVId-19 to travel.

The Order still retains the requirements for travellers to provide information to assist with contact tracing.

Authorisation of import of Point of Care Tests for limited use under the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Point-of-care Tests) Order 2021

This notice takes effect at 11.59pm on 27 February 2022.

Authorisations for importing, supplying, selling and using of point-of-care tests under clause 8(1) of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Point-of-care Tests) Order 2021

The Director-General may authorise (otherwise prohibited under clause 7) any person or classes of persons to import, manufacture, supply, sell, pack, or use a point-of-care test for the purpose of testing for COVID-19 under clause 8(1) of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Point-of-care Tests) Order 2021. The Director-General, on 2 December 2021, has authorised the following persons or classes of persons in the attached Notice to do the listed activities.

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Point-of-care Tests) Order 2021

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Point-of-care Tests) Order 2021 came into force 22 April 2021. This order prohibits a person from importing, manufacturing, supplying, selling, packing, or using a point-of-care test for SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 unless the Director-General of Health has:

  • authorised the person’s activity; or
  • exempted the point-of-care test from the prohibition.

Find out more at COVID-19 Public Health Response (Point-of-care Tests) Order 2021.


COVID-19 Order Exemptions

Class-based exemptions from the requirements of orders made under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 are published in the New Zealand Gazette.

Current exemptions are also posted below.

Medicines Act 1981

Notice under Section 34A of the Medicines Act 1981 authorising off-label administration of COVID-19 Vaccine – interval between second and third doses

The Notice authorises the ongoing delivery of third (or booster) doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the reduced 3-month dose interval since completion of a primary COVID-19 vaccine course.

Notice under Section 34A of the Medicines Act 1981 authorising off-label administration of COVID-19 Vaccine – fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine

The notice for at-risk groups recommended to receive a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, authorised by the Director-General of Health under s34A of the Medicines Amendment Act 1981.

Section 34A of the Medicines Amendment Act 1981 provides for the Director-General of Health to authorise the administration of already consented COVID-19 vaccines (consented under sections 20 or 23 of the Medicines Act 1981) to any people specified in the notice.

The section requires the Director-General to be satisfied that the proposed administration of the COVID-19 vaccine is an appropriate measure to manage the risks associated with the outbreak or spread of COVID-19, and to have regard to the therapeutic value of the administration versus any risks to any person of receiving a vaccine.

This notice sets out the recommended groups the Director-General has authorised to receive a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to boost immunity and continue to be as protected as possible against COVID-19. No person in these groups is required under any Order to receive a fourth dose, but those in the recommended groups will be able to access a fourth dose at any available COVID-19 vaccination site.

Notice under Section 34A of the Medicines Act 1981 authorising off-label administration of COVID-19 Vaccine Nuvaxovid

This notice authorises the administration of a fourth dose of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine Nuvaxovid on the same basis as the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty, to broaden access to booster doses for groups at greater risk from COVID-19 and thereby helping to manage the risks associated with the outbreak and spread of COVID-19.

Section 34A of the Medicines Amendment Act 1981 provides for the Director-General of Health to authorise the administration of already consented COVID-19 vaccines (consented under sections 20 or 23 of the Medicines Act 1981) to any people specified in the notice.

The section requires the Director-General to be satisfied that the proposed administration of the COVID-19 vaccine is an appropriate measure to manage the risks associated with the outbreak or spread of COVID-19, and to have regard to the therapeutic value of the administration versus any risks to any person of receiving a vaccine.

In this section

  • The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Point-of-care Tests) Order 2021 prohibits a person from importing, manufacturing, supplying, selling, packing, or using a point-of-care test for SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 unless the Director-General of Health has authorised the person’s activity or exempted the point-of-care test from the prohibition. Read more
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