1 Aug 2023

Covid-19 mandatory self-isolation period could soon be relaxed, PM hints

12:12 pm on 1 August 2023
Collage of Covid test and person wearing a mask.

Photo: 123rf.com / Composite Image - RNZ

New Zealand's mandatory seven-day self-isolation requirement for Covid-19 could be relaxed by the end of the month, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has indicated.

Most Covid-19 rules were dropped last September, such as the traffic light setting, vaccine mandates and a requirement to wear masks in places other than healthcare settings, but the seven-day isolation period for those who have the virus has remained.

Cabinet last reviewed the requirement in April, ahead of winter.

That notice expires at the end of August.

Hipkins said a decision would be made before then on whether to relax the isolation requirements.

"We did signal last time that we thought as this current notice period drew to a close that it was likely we would see Covid-19 being transitioned to a business-as-usual approach for the health system."

Hipkins said New Zealand's health system was still under pressure, and the government was focused on getting through winter.

"We're still working our way through winter.

"Winter is one of the most critical points for the health system, when it comes under the most pressure."

National Party leader Christopher Luxon said it was time to move on and it could have been done already.

"Our view is we want to move, we've got to move on beyond Covid. We've been too slow coming out of it, other countries have moved ahead and opened up their economies in a much better way."

Luxon said people could be trusted to manage Covid themselves.

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