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: 22 October 2021

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COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020

The COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 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.

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:

Designated testing places for saliva testing approved under clause 13(3) of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Required Testing) Order 2020

The Director-General may designate places as designated testing places for the purpose of saliva testing under clause 13(3) of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Required Testing) Order 2020. On 12 August, the Director-General designated the locations in the notice attached as designated testing sites from the dates specified in the notice.


COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021

The first Vaccinations Order came into force at 11.59pm on 30 April requiring that all work in MIQ settings must 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 Vaccination Order, which made it compulsory for most border workers to be vaccinated, was announced by the Government on 8 July and came into effect at midnight on 14 July 2021. 

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.

 The Ministry of Health has announced the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order will be updated to require a new set of workers in the health and disability sector to be fully vaccinated by 1 December 2021. It requires that specified health care roles be undertaken only by vaccinated people because they risk being exposed to, and infected by, COVID-19 in the course of their work activities. This will come into effect on 25 October 2021.

The specific roles affected by the Order are outlined in Schedule 2.


Epidemic Notice

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.

On 8 September 2021, the Prime Minister renewed the Epidemic Notice for three months 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.

Duration of the Epidemic Notice

The Notice lasts for three months from 8 September 2021 unless the Government chooses to lift it earlier.

The Notice can be extended again if required.


Border Orders

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021

The first Vaccinations Order came into force at 11.59pm on 30 April requiring that all work in MIQ settings must 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 Vaccination Order, which makes it compulsory for most border workers to be vaccinated, was announced by the Government on 8 July and comes into effect at midnight on 14 July 2021. 

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.

The specific roles affected by the Order are outlined in Schedule 2.

COVID-19 Public Health Response (COVID-19 Testing) Order 2020

A new health order came into force at 11.59 pm 14 August requiring those who work at Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities, at Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga, to be tested for COVID-19 by Monday 11.59 pm 17 August. 

An amendment to the Order was put in place on 17 August, to:

  • specify more precisely that only higher-risk workers at Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga are required to be tested
  • extend the deadline for testing affected workers by three days, to Thursday 11.59 pm, 20 August
  • extend the time period of exemption from further testing if a test has already been done from 12 pm 12 August to 12 am 12 August 2020.

Testing is part of our rapid response to detect any cases and contain the outbreak of COVID-19, and to protect the health of workers, their families and whānau and the broader community.

The purpose of this amendment was that we focus testing those at ports who are considered to be higher risk first, and by doing so quickly detect any cases. 

It’s important that we use legal measures such as this with discretion and in proportion to the risk level. This Order applied to those people where it was considered there was greater risk, but noting that it was still important that all those who work at the border and who are not affected by this order get a test and this remained voluntary. 

This Order has now been revoked and has been replaced by the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Required Testing) Order 2020.

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Required Testing) Order 2020

The purpose of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Required Testing) Order 2020 is to prevent, and limit the risk of, the outbreak or spread of COVID-19 by requiring testing and medical examination of certain higher risk border workers: those who work in managed isolation and quarantine facilities, as well as workers at ports and airports at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19.

There have been subsequent Amendments to the original (Required Testing) Order.

Maritime Border Order

The original Maritime Border Order 2020 came into effect at 11.59pm on Tuesday 30 June 2020.

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border) Order (No 2) 2020 is in effect from 11.59pm on Sunday 6 September. This replaces the previous Order, that governs persons who arrive in New Zealand by sea.

The Order continues the prohibition on foreign ships in New Zealand, with a range of exceptions. Exceptions include fishing ships, cargo ships and those that have been granted permission if there is a humanitarian reason or a compelling need for the ship to be delivered to a NZ business.

It requires most arrivals by sea to have quarantined or isolated on board their ship for at least 14 days since the last port of call or since it last took crew, and requires every person on board the ship to meet the low-risk indicators (including a negative COVID-19 test) before any person may enter the New Zealand community.

In addition, if a person wishes to depart a vessel, they require the approval of a Medical Officer of Health, and all other persons on board must also meet the low-risk indicators before the person may disembark.  If persons arriving by sea cannot appropriately isolate or quarantine on board their ship, they will be transferred to a MIQ facility. It outlines the rules for safe crew changes and introduces infringement offences under the COVID-19 Act.

Air Border Order

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Air Border) Order (No 2) 2020 is in effect from 11.59pm on Sunday 6 September and replaces the previous Order.

The Air Border Order (No 2) 2020 still requires all arrivals to New Zealand by air to undergo medical examination and/or testing for COVID-19 on arrival and commence isolation or quarantine as soon as practicable after arrival.

It requires people arriving at the air border to maintain physical distancing and wear PPE as directed in the airport. It contains provision for certain arrivals to be excluded from these requirements. The Minister of Health has the discretion to exempt people or classes of people from any requirements that are imposed by the Air Border order.

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.

This order replaces the Notice Under Section 37 of the Medicines Act 1981 (Gazette 2020-go1737) and broadens the group of Point-Of-Care tests the restrictions apply to.

The reason for the issuing of the Order is to prevent testing for COVID-19 using unverified or unaccredited methods or tools and prevent the misinterpretation of any results.

Information about process for applications made for authorisations under the POCT Order

Application Form: To import, manufacture, supply, sell, pack or use a Point of Care Test for SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 infection or immunity (Word, 98 KB)

Applications will be acknowledged within five working days of receipt.

The information provided will be reviewed by a Subject Matter Expert (SME) group.

The SME group may contact applicants directly for additional information or to arrange for evaluation of the product, if required.

The SME group will provide a recommendation to the Ministry of Health which will take the following into consideration:

  • the technical performance of the product
  • the clinical use scenarios for the product in the New Zealand context (who can use the product and under what circumstances).

If the SME group recommends that authorisation for import/supply/use (as relevant) should be sought from the Director General of Health, the National Laboratory Testing team will seek authorisation.

The authorisation, if approved, may include some conditions around the use of the product.

Applicants will be advised on either the progress of the application, or, the outcome of the application, within 25 working days of receipt.


Health Act Orders

There have been several orders produced under the Health Act 1956 for New Zealand’s COVID-19 response. These have now been revoked or replaced by orders made under COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020.

For further information about the previous Orders see Parliamentary Counsel Office COVID-19 legislation.


Section 70

To underscore the importance of individuals following the advice they have been given by the public health units or the national contact tracing team, a Section 70 of the Health Act 1956 can be issued.

A Section 70 order enables an authorised Medical Officer of Health to require those in the order to meet public health requirements to undergo testing and to isolate until they receive their result. Any time a person receives a direction from a medical officer of health they must comply with it.

Current section 70s are listed below.


Section 70 - Persons who have returned a positive test for COVID-19 – 15 October 2021

I, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health and medical officer of health for all health regions, give the following direction under section 70(1)(e), (ea), and (f) of the Health Act 1956 for the purpose of preventing further outbreak or spread of COVID-19, which I consider to be a significant risk to the public.

Persons to whom this direction applies
  1. This direction applies to every person who has returned a positive test for COVID-19.
  2. However, this direction does not apply if a medical officer of health confirms that the person is no longer infectious (that is, if the result is indicative of a historical infection).
What affected persons are required to do
  1. A person to whom this direction applies must—
    1. remain isolated or quarantined at:
      1. at their usual place of residence (which for visitors, includes accommodation), unless otherwise specified by a medical officer of health at (ii) or (iii) below
      2. a Government authorised quarantine or managed isolation facility as specified by a medical officer of health; or
      3. other location (including a hospital) as specified by a medical officer of health; and
    2. report and submit for medical examination and testing at times and places as required by a medical officer of health; and
    3. if the person is in an authorised quarantine or managed isolation facility,—
      1. remain in their room unless authorised to leave for the purpose of fresh air and exercise; and
      2. maintain physical distancing from others within the facility (to the greatest extent practicable); and
      3. wear personal protective equipment as directed by a medical officer of health or health protection officer; and
    4. if the person is at their usual place of residence or another location specified by a medical officer of health, leave that location only—
      1. to report and submit for testing if required by a medical officer of health or health protection officer; or
      2. to access an essential health service that cannot be deferred until the person is deemed no longer infectious; or
      3. as otherwise necessary to preserve their own or any other person’s life or safety.
  2. Clause 3 applies for 14 days from the onset of symptoms or positive COVID-19 test (if they remain asymptomatic), including 72 hours symptom free, and they meet the criteria for release for isolation as determined by a Medical Officer of Health or health practitioner responsible for their care.
Revocation
  1. The Section 70 - Persons who have returned a positive test for COVID-19 notice dated 8 October 2021 is revoked.
Relevant information

Failure or refusal to comply with this direction is an offence under section 72 of the Health Act 1956, punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, a fine not exceeding $4,000, or both.

Direction under s 70 of the Health Act 1956 - 8 October 2021 (PDF, 105 KB)

Section 70 issued, locations of interest in New Zealand – 29 August 2021

For the purpose of preventing further outbreak or spread of COVID-19, which I consider to be a significant risk to the public, I, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health, make the following direction under sections 70(1)(ea) and (f) of the Health Act 1956:

This direction applies to any person who attended the locations of interest at the times and dates (New Zealand Standard Time), as set out in Schedule 1.

I require these people to do the following:

  1. Comply with the requirements relating to the location of interest they attended as listed at Schedule 1: a. If required to self-monitor for symptoms, follow the instructions as set out in Schedule 1.
    1. If required to self-isolate at their usual place of residence (which for visitors, includes accommodation), except as required to report and submit for testing as directed: 1. to remain isolated or quarantined at their usual place of residence for a time as advised by, or on behalf of a Medical Officer of Health, but:
    2. no longer than 14 days from the date of their last potential exposure to COVID-19, as set out in guidance published on the Ministry of Health website.
  2. Report themselves for medical testing by contacting Healthline (0800 358 5453) or completing the Location of Interest form at: (https://tracing.covid19.govt.nz/loi), and advising that they are a contact of a case of COVID-19.
  3. Submit themselves for medical testing for COVID-19 at a time and place appropriate to their current location and the time of their last potential exposure to COVID-19, as set out in requirements published on the Ministry of Health website.

Failure or refusal to comply with this direction is an offence under s 72 of the Health Act 1956.


Section 70 issued, for household members of a person who has been at a NZ location of interest or who has been categorised as a close contact – 29 August 2021

For the purpose of preventing further outbreak or spread of COVID-19, which I consider to be a significant risk to the public, I, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health, make the following direction under sections 70(1)(ea) and (f) of the Health Act 1956:

This direction applies to:

  • any household member of a person who has attended the specific locations of interest at the times and dates as set out in Schedule 1 and has been required to isolate or quarantine, or who has been categorised as a close contact.

I require these people to do the following:

1. Stay at their usual place of residence (which for visitors, includes accommodation), except as required to report and submit for testing as directed, until the person who has been at a location of interest, or who has been categorised as a close contact, has received a negative 5 day test result, or until after an earlier negative test result if contact between the two people had ceased.

Household members may undertake essential personal movement for limited recreation purposes while they are in quarantine, in compliance with requirements on physical distancing and other restrictions relating to exercise or other recreation.

The direction does not apply to persons who are required to provide an essential health service (being a service provided for the purpose of assessing, improving, protecting, or managing the physical or mental health of individuals or groups of individuals) or managed isolation or quarantine services as long as the following conditions are met:

  1. The person is vaccinated, having received 2 injections of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine;
  2. The close contact of the household member has been tested for COVID-19 following the exposure event and has received a negative result;
  3. The negative test result must be from a RT-PCR test (a test for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) viral ribonucleic acid using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction); and
  4. No household members have symptoms of COVID-19.

 Failure or refusal to comply with this direction is an offence under s 72 of the Health Act 1956.


Managed Isolation and Quarantine Order

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Isolation and Quarantine) Order 2020, is a new Order that governs the legal requirements for people while they are in a managed isolation and quarantine facility (MIQF). 

It sets out that all persons in MIQF must be there for at least 14 days and meet the low-risk indicators (e.g. have a negative COVID-19 test) before they can leave.

The Order clearly sets out what is taken into account for a special authorisation to leave isolation or quarantine early. This includes a risk-based approach which the Chief Executive of MBIE can use if authorising early exit for an exceptional reason.

It allows for a caregiver of a vulnerable person to enter a MIQF to provide care.

It incorporates (and revokes) the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Security of Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities) Order 2020, which restricts entry to MIQ facilities and sets out a risk assessment for those who do unlawfully enter.

As the Chief Executive of MBIE is now responsible for the operation of MIQ facilities, the amendments provide further clarity around when decisions should be made based on advice from a health professional or Medical Officer of Health versus when decisions may be operational in nature.


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 who are unable to leave New Zealand should  request an extension check. Confirmation of extensions will be emailed to all visa holders.

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

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