23 Apr 2020

Covid-19: Customs investigates Ruby Princess

12:12 pm on 23 April 2020

Customs is leading an investigation into the Ruby Princess cruise ship's visit to New Zealand, which is responsible for a cluster of 22 Covid-19 cases in the country.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: The Ruby Princess cruise ship is seen docked at at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that international cruise ships would no longer be allowed to dock at Australian ports.

Photo: 2020 Anadolu Agency/ AFP

The ship's owner Carnival is under investigation in Australia after hundreds of passengers were infected with the virus.

The Ruby Princess visited New Zealand from 11-15 March, docking in Milford Sound, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington and Napier before returning to Sydney.

After the Australian investigation was announced earlier this month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asked Crown Law to investigate and Attorney-General David Parker has received legal advice.

New Zealand agencies were now engaging with Australian authorities and sharing information with them, Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry said.

"Our investigation seeks to establish whether any offences have been committed, including against the Customs and Excise Act 2018, specifically whether the cruise ship made the appropriate declarations prior to arrival and receiving clearance to enter New Zealand."

*See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

Offences against the Customs and Excise Act 2018 can carry a term of imprisonment or a fine, including against a body corporate.

Customs was liaising with the Ministry of Health, Crown Law and Australian authorities.

"We are unable to comment further at this time, due to the ongoing investigation both here in New Zealand and in Australia," Berry said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs