COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

Please find below the latest developments and any new travel guidelines relating to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and the response from the New Zealand Government and Auckland Airport response.

This is a rolling update – you’ll find the latest information upfront.

Update: Monday 24 February

From today, the Government has extended the enhanced border measures relating to COVID-19 for another eight days. They are due to be assessed again on Tuesday, 3 March.

Information from Friday 21 February

As part of the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 prevention efforts from Friday 21 February, any passengers who have arrived from or transited through mainland China or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days is required to complete a self-isolation and support registration form at border control.

Health staff and interpreters will be on-site to manage the form and meet flights from China. The forms will then be processed by Healthline who will also follow up with the passengers via a phone call.

This means it will take longer for arriving passengers to clear border formalities. We ask travellers for their patience and understanding and appreciate your contribution to managing the public health risk.

Information from Sunday 2 February

From Monday 3 February the Government is placing temporary entry restrictions into New Zealand on all foreign nationals travelling from, or transiting through mainland China.

The advisory means the following:

  • Changes come into effect Monday 3nd February
  • Those who have been in or transited through mainland China after 2 February 2020 will be refused entry to New Zealand
  • Any foreign travellers in transit to New Zealand on 2 February 2020 will be subject to enhanced screening on arrival but, pending clearance, will be granted entry to New Zealand
  • New Zealand citizens or permanent residents (and their immediate family) are exempt but will required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival back in the country
  • The restrictions will stay in place for up to 14 days and will be reviewed every 48 hours
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has also raised its travel advice to New Zealanders for mainland China to “Do not travel”, the highest level

Key contacts:

New Zealand Government travel advice:

Foreign embassies and consulates in New Zealand:

Airlines using Auckland Airport:

Which airlines fly between Auckland Airport and mainland China?

Six airlines fly between Auckland Airport and five cities in mainland China. China Southern flies to Guangzhou (averaging 14 flights a week for January 2020); Sichuan Airlines to Chengdu (three flights); Air China to Beijing (seven flights); Air New Zealand (seven flights) and China Eastern (nine flights) to Shanghai; and Hainan Airlines to Hainan (three flights).

What will happen to Chinese visitors who are already in New Zealand or travellers who are booked to travel via Chinese airports to other destinations?

The restrictions don’t apply to flights or travellers leaving New Zealand for China, but there may be flight schedule changes.

Passengers planning to travel to China or via China to other destinations globally are asked to contact their airline or travel agent regarding the status of their flight before coming to Auckland Airport, in case of any flight schedule changes.

What about New Zealanders planning to travel to mainland China?

If you are planning to travel to mainland China please check the Safetravel website, your travel agent or airline for the latest information on travel impacts.

On 2 February the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade raised its travel advice to New Zealanders for all of mainland China to “Do not travel”, the highest level.

Is there any impact to people travelling to other countries?

This change only affects travellers arriving in New Zealand on flights from or via mainland China. However, restrictions affecting travel from or via China are already in place in other countries so may impact onward travel from New Zealand.

As at 2 February (10am NZ time), countries that have announced border restrictions for foreign nationals include:

  • Australia
  • Afghanistan
  • Japan
  • Mongolia
  • Nepal
  • North Korea (DPRK)
  • Pakistan
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • USA

Will it make the airport busy?

Because of the introduction of new travel restrictions, all passengers departing New Zealand on international flights should allow additional time to complete check-in. Due to enhanced screening it may take longer for arriving passengers to clear border formalities.

We ask travellers for their patience and understanding during this busy period.

Information from Friday 31 January

What is Auckland Airport doing about COVID-19 ?

Auckland Airport is working closely with the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) to support border security requirements.

In addition to this, Auckland Airport is following the ARPHS Ill Traveller Protocol, in line with international health regulations. The protocol is a well-established multi agency process to effectively monitor, assess and manage ill travellers arriving on planes and ships into New Zealand.

As a precautionary measure, Auckland Airport has asked all precinct workers to follow recommendations from the World Health Organisation, as outlined below:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.

We will continue to follow advice from ARPHS and MOH and provide updates to our staff and people working at Auckland in line with this.

Is it safe to come to the airport and into the terminals?

The health and safety of everyone in our terminals is always our top priority. We are in regular contact with the health authorities and following their recommendations to maintain this.

To date there have been no cases reported in New Zealand of COVID-19 and the MOH currently believes that the risk of a sustained outbreak is low.

If there is someone ill in the terminal, what should we do?

For staff: It’s important to note that although ARPHS staff are onsite, normal “ill traveller protocol” procedures remain in place. Therefore, it’s imperative that all medical incidents involving public, passengers and staff continue to be reported through to the Incident Control Room for further assistance.

For travellers; Travellers experiencing symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness are recommended to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their healthcare provider. You can call Healthline free on 0800 611 116 for health advice and information.

How long will this go on for?

Auckland Airport is following guidelines from the MOH and will keep supporting public health staff on site for as long as the MOH and ARPHS feel they are needed here.

Should I wear a face mask?

You can wear a mask if you would like to, but it is not a requirement of the MOH at this stage, unless you are in close contact (more than 15 minutes) with a traveller who is showing symptoms of respiratory illness.

Can I wear a face mask at the airport?

Absolutely, though please remember you may be required to remove it at various stages for security requirements. Please also follow the instructions on the mask and dispose of it correctly in a rubbish bin.

Washing hands

Do I need hot water to wash my hands?

One of the best protections is to regularly wash your hands. The World Health Organisation recommends washing hands with soap and running water (any temperature). The key is to do it on a regular basis after the following activities:

  • After coughing or sneezing
  • Before, during and after you prepare food
  • Before eating
  • After toilet use
  • When hands a visibly dirty
  • When caring for the sick
  • After handling animals or animal waste.

If still concerned you can also follow this up with hand sanitiser – available in all helpdesks.

If I work in the terminal do I need to take any extra precautions?

This is a good opportunity to refresh yourself on your health and safety protocols. In particular:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
  • Follow best practice hygiene and wipe down surfaces that are in regular use.

Ministry of Health advice for travellers

On Thursday 30th January, the MOH advised that anyone who has recently been to Wuhan or Hubei province should self-isolate for 14 days after leaving Hubei province.

This means you should avoid situations that could facilitate the transmission of the virus such as social gatherings and events where you come into contact with others in particular, child care/pre-school centres, primary and secondary schools (including staff and students), aged care, healthcare facilities, prisons, public gatherings.

MOH Risk Assessment

The Ministry of Health (MOH) assessment of risk as of Saturday 1 February states that due to the time of year (Chinese New Year) and New Zealand’s links with China there is a high chance that there will be one or more cases of COVID-19 imported into New Zealand. However, if this is the case, they consider the likely spread person-to-person, e.g. its contagiousness, to be moderate and the chance of a widespread outbreak to be low.

About COVID-19

The virus can cause acute respiratory infection ranging from mild to severe. Most of the infected people have had mild to moderate illness. More information on the signs and symptoms can be found here.

On Thursday 30 January the WHO declared the outbreak a global health emergency.

The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what could happen if the virus spreads to countries with “weaker health systems” which are ill prepared to deal with it. The WHO said there had been 98 cases in 18 countries outside of China, but no deaths. The vast majority of the cases outside of China have a travel history to Wuhan or contact with someone with a travel history to Wuhan.

The WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restriction based on the current information available.

The WHO's definition of a public health emergency is: "An extraordinary event which constitutes a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease, and potentially requires a coordinated international response."

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