Most travelers entering New Zealand must self-isolate: Ardern

Mar 14 , 2020. 4 hours ago – 15:36 – KYODO NEWS

(File photo shows New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.)

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand – Most travelers entering New Zealand, including citizens and residents, will be required to enter 14 days of self-isolation as a preventative measure against coronavirus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Saturday.

The premier said the restrictions were the toughest and most wide-ranging border protection measures in the world and will be reviewed in 16 days time.

“Cabinet made far reaching and unprecedented decisions today because these are unprecedented circumstances,” she said at a press conference in Auckland.

People entering New Zealand from Pacific island nations, which collectively have no cases of COVID-19 infection, are the only travelers exempt from the restrictions, which begin at midnight on Sunday.

Ardern also said all cruise ships will be told not to come to New Zealand until June 30.

Earlier Saturday, the country’s heightened preventative measures led to the cancellation of a national memorial service commemorating the first anniversary of the deadly mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.

The memorial for the March 15 terror attacks was originally scheduled to be held on Sunday. But organizers said because the event is non-ticketed it would be difficult to trace any transmission of the virus, if it were to occur.

New Zealand has confirmed six cases of coronavirus, all of which are located in Auckland. However organizers were expecting many attendees to travel from across the country and Australia, where 200 cases and incidents of community transmission, have been confirmed.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said at a press conference the emotional nature of the memorial meant people may find it more difficult than usual to maintain social distancing precautions.

“I think if it had been something else, it’s much easier to stand back, but your heart naturally goes out to people and there is a desire and need to embrace,” she said.

In the shootings a total of 51 people were killed after a gunman stormed the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in central Christchurch. The attack was the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand’s history.

Representatives of the Al Noor and Linwood mosques said private gatherings will be held in lieu of the public memorial.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 29, faces an array of charges, including 51 counts of murder and one count of engaging in a terrorist attack. He is due to go on trial in June.