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COVID-19 Testing Infringement Notices Issued To Border Workers

The first infringement notices for border workers who have not complied with COVID-19 testing requirements have been issued, the Ministry of Health has confirmed.

A total of 18 infringement notices, containing a fine of $300 each, have now been issued to border workers who have not complied with testing for COVID-19 under Schedule 2 of the Required Testing Order.

“Our border workers are on the frontline of Aotearoa New Zealand’s efforts to keep COVID-19 out of our communities, so it is critical to support this workforce as best we can,” the Ministry’s Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay says.

“Border controls are a key tool for stopping the introduction and spread of new cases from overseas and remain central to our elimination strategy, which has served us so well. Routine testing of border workers checks that those protective measures are working properly, it keeps our workers safe, assists us with detecting any cases so that we can contain them quickly, and ultimately helps to protect all New Zealanders from the virus.”

More than a quarter of a million tests of border workers (269,658) have been undertaken since August 2020 when mandatory border worker testing was first introduced and overall compliance with the testing is 87 percent.

“The vast majority of workers are complying with the requirements and we thank them for doing this to keep others safe,” Dr McElnay says.

The infringements follow many attempts made by the Ministry to contact these workers to provide support and assistance to comply including; being provided testing opportunities; provided reminders and given a formal warning – through a letter directing them to get tested.

The notices were emailed or posted, with individuals receiving 28 days to pay.

The Required Testing Order requires workers in specified roles at New Zealand’s maritime and air borders, and at managed isolation facilities and quarantine facilities, to undergo surveillance testing for COVID-19 on an ongoing basis.

The Government acted to further strengthen Aotearoa New Zealand’s border response to COVID-19 by making use of the Border Worker Testing Register mandatory for employers in April this year.

The Ministry has sent out 92 directive letters to border workers to date. In June, 52 directive letters were sent resulting in 29 border workers getting tested. Of the 18 who have now been issued infringement notices, five were subject to the 7-day test cycle; and 13 were on the 14-day test cycle.

“Moving from monitoring to enforcement is a precautionary – but necessary – approach to keep COVID-19 out of our community,” Dr McElnay says.

Further information about the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Required Testing) Order 2020 is available on the Ministry of Health website.

Notes:

The purpose of the Required Testing Order is to prevent, and limit the risk of, an outbreak or spread of COVID-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Order came into effect on 29 August 2020 and requires workers in specified roles at New Zealand’s maritime and air borders, and at managed isolation facilities and quarantine facilities, to undergo surveillance testing for COVID-19 on an ongoing basis.

The Ministry of Health has a responsibility to ensure Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBUs), and border workers, play their part to comply with the requirements of the Required Testing Order to keep COVID-19 out of our communities.

Compliance by PCBUs and workers to the requirements of the Required Testing Order has been high. The vast majority of workers comply with the requirements and the Ministry thanks them for doing this to keep others safe.

Since the Border Workforce Testing Register was made mandatory, on 27 April 2021, the Ministry has worked closely with PCBUs and workers to provide education and support to comply with the testing requirements under the Required Testing Order.

These testing measures aim to increase the safety of isolation and quarantine facilities and border workers, and to strengthen barriers to prevent COVID-19 entering New Zealand across the border. Workers at the border and those working in isolation and quarantine facilities all have an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 through interaction with travellers and cargo arriving from overseas.
 

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