Review of COVID-19 Border Measures (Aviation)
Provide assurance that the air border measures were appropriately managed, minimising the opportunities for the spread of COVID-19.
- Since February 2020 New Zealand has implemented, and continues to implement, a range of border measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19.
- The Border Executive Board’s predecessor, the Border Sector Governance Group (BSGG), pro-actively commissioned an independent review of COVID-19 aviation border measures in July 2020. The BSGG wanted to ensure the border measures in relation to COVID-19 were being applied effectively and to check what improvements could be made.
- At the time of the report, multiple border agencies had to make changes and create processes at speed to ensure the risk of COVID-19 entering through the aviation border was efficient and effective.
- The report identified recommendations to improve processes and practices to keep New Zealand's border safe from COVID-19.
- As the report noted, changes to the border measures that were implemented at pace during the time of the review posed a range of risks and challenges.
- Since the report was finalised in October 2020, border agencies have taken many steps to implement the recommendations of the review and tighten processes, procedures and information sharing around COVID-19 and border security.
These changes include:
- Establishing the Chief Executive level Border Executive Board to provide governance and oversight across New Zealand’s border system.
- Publication of formal direction and guidance including the Air Border Order, the Maritime Border Order, the Ministry of Health's Infection Prevention and Control guidance and guidance from the Privacy Commissioner on the sharing of personal information.
- Secondment of staff from key agencies into the Ministry of Health's Border Operations team.
- Regular meetings at strategic and operational levels to drive transparency and consistency across the sector.
- The introduction of pre-departure testing since the report was drafted provides additional assurance at reducing the risk to New Zealand from COVID-19. This also represents an exemplar of how border agencies including Health, Customs, Immigration and Transport can innovate and work effectively together.