COVID-19: Epidemic notice and Health Act Orders

On Monday 23 March, 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.

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.

Duration of the Epidemic Notice

The Notice lasts for three months from 23 March 2020 unless the Government chooses to lift it earlier.

The Notice can be extended if required.

Health Act Orders

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level 2) Order 2020

From 12:01am on 14 May the following Order comes into effect. This Order outlines the functions of Alert Level 2, including gatherings, requirements for all businesses and services, funerals and tangihanga, infection control measure requirements for premises and ability to close non-compliant premises and prohibitions on gatherings.

On 27 May an amendment was made to this Order to allow businesses and services to have up to 100 customers and clients in a defined space within a workplace, raise the limit on gatherings of friends and whānau to 100 provided contact tracing requirements are met and clarify social gathering rules rather than those relating to businesses and services apply to faith-based gatherings and community club activities. This Amendment Order comes into effect 11.59am on 29 May 2020.

Health Act (COVID-19 Alert Level 3) Order 2020

From 11:59pm on 27 April the following Health Act Order comes into effect. This Health Act Order outlines the functions around isolation or quarantine requirements, essential personal movement or recreation, infection control measure requirements for premises and ability to close non-compliant premises and prohibitions on gatherings.

On 30 April an amendment was made to this order to allow people to leave their home or residence to care for their pets or other animals, and clarify recreational hunting or killing of game birds is prohibited.

On 12 May an amendment was made to this order to allow businesses to carry out necessary work ahead of New Zealand moving to Alert Level 2.

Section 70(1)(m)

On 24 March the Prime Minister, with agreement of the Minister of Health, issued an epidemic notice under Section 5 of the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006.

This allows the use of special powers by Medical Officers of Health in accordance with Section 70 of the Health Act 1956 for the purposes of preventing the outbreak and spread of COVID-19.

The following order requires premises to be closed, with the exception of essential businesses, and prohibits mass gatherings.

On 21 April an amendment was made to this order to allow businesses to carry out necessary work ahead of New Zealand moving to Alert Level 3.

Section 70(1)(f)

The following order clarifies the parameters of staying home at Alert Level 4 and any exceptions.

On 21 April, this order was extended to 27 April.

Section 70(1)(e),(ea) and (f)

The following order requires arrivals into New Zealand to be isolated or quarantined. 

On 21 April, this order was extended to 11 May.

On 8 May 2020, this order was extended to 22 June 2020.

Temporary visa holders

The New Zealand Government has issued an epidemic management notice and further strengthened travel restrictions, closing our border to almost all travellers from 23:59 on Thursday 19 March 2020 (New Zealand time).

Travellers with a temporary (work, student, visitor, interim and limited) visa expiring before 1 April 2020 who are unable to leave New Zealand must apply online for a new visa. An interim visa will be issued.

Travellers with a temporary visa due to expire between 1 April and 9 July 2020 will have their visas extended to late September. Confirmation of extensions will be emailed to all visa holders.

For further information, please see the New Zealand Immigration website.

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