On 2 March the New Zealand Government extended new travel restrictions related to Covid-19 virus to visitors arriving from Korea and northern Italy. While these countries are not subject to a travel ban like China and Iran, it is likely at some point if the number of cases in these countries continue to build a travel ban will also be applied.
The travel restrictions for Korea and Northern Italy require individuals who have been in those countries within 14 days of arrival to register with Healthline and self isolate for a period of 14 days. This is very different to the travel ban that is in place for China and Iran.
To clarify, while the travel restriction requirements apply to all those arriving from Korea and northern Italy, the travel ban does not apply to New Zealand citizens or residents and their immediately members (spouse/partner, legal guardian, or dependent child under 24 years of age). Further, they do not apply to Australian citizens or permanent residents if New Zealand is their primarily place of established residence.
As a result of the travel ban, you may have employees or prospective employees holding temporary work visas who are currently unable to travel to New Zealand. If a prospective employee has recently been granted a visa allowing them to work for your company, we recommend carefully checking their visa to determine whether there are conditions requiring the holder to enter New Zealand by a particular date. If the individual’s “first entry before” date is approaching, their travel conditions may need to be extended to avoid the visa lapsing and becoming void. We have already extended some (resident) visas due to these issues although Immigration New Zealand (INZ) do not have a defined policy at this stage so they are reviewing each application on a case by case basis.
In addition, if you have employees travelling in from northern Italy and Korea then you also need to be aware and manage the 14 day self isolation period, with a view that in the short term the restriction for these countries may move to a ban so there is some risk of delayed entry for these countries too.
What we seem to be observing here is a phased border closing. Employers therefore need to be very mindful of allowing work related international travel and leave requests that involve international travel, in particular for those who hold temporary visas. It is possible, as the position escalates, that such employees may well be caught by a new restriction preventing them returning to work until they self isolate for 14 days (and with that the question arises is that paid or unpaid leave), or worse, being caught outside New Zealand and unable to return for a significant period of time if the country they are in is placed on the ban list while they are offshore.
Workplace Law team
Employment: Andrew Shaw, Fiona McMillan, Gwen Drewitt, Maria Green, Hannah Martin, Joseph Harrop, Holly Struckman, Alex Beal, Giuliana Petronelli, Abby Shieh
Immigration: Mark Williams, Rachael Mason, Daniel Kruger, Nicky Robertson, Julia Strickett, Ken Huang, Mary Zhou, Shi Sheng Cai (Shoosh), Sarah Kirkwood, Janeske Schutte, Lingbo Yu
ACC: Andrew Shaw
Health and Safety: Andrew Shaw, Fiona McMillan