16 Sep 2021

Covid-19: Weekly tests for essential workers crossing Auckland border come in tomorrow

6:21 am on 16 September 2021

Essential workers crossing Auckland's level 4 border will not have to show they have tested negative for Covid-19, only that they have had the test.

A police checkpoint in Mercer, near Auckland's border with Waikato.

A police checkpoint in Mercer, near Auckland's border with Waikato. Photo: RNZ/Nick Monro

From tomorrow, the Ministry of Health will require all workers crossing the boundary to have had a Covid-19 test in the previous seven days.

It is part of surveillance testing to keep Covid-19 at bay.

Thousands of permitted workers cross the alert level boundary each day and from tomorrow, the police will turn those around who do not have evidence of a test.

The trucking industry group, Transporting New Zealand, said proof of a test is enough.

Its chief executive Nick Leggett said if drivers had to wait for the results to come back, there could be lengthy delays in moving goods.

"It's obviously more straightforward to demonstrate that a test's been done rather than have to wait for the result. I think if we were in a position where the whole industry was having to wait for a negative result you would see freight potentially grind to a halt," he said.

"It's for the Ministry of Health to set the rules rather than the industry, we're just following the rules but I'm assuming it meets the requirements for the government's intentions on surveillance testing."

Leggett said the industry has had a week to prepare for the new testing regime.

"I'm confident that there will be no issues with transport companies in terms of their ability to demonstrate that their staff are following the law and having the required tests every seven days and that's the industry's contribution to continuing the country's fight against Covid."

The Ministry of Transport says so far 176 employers have registered for saliva testing, covering 1824 workers.

Another 351 permitted workers have registered as individuals.

"Many hundreds have been delivered in the last few days. I think it's an important development for the country because I think saliva testing from now on will hopefully be used very widely," Leggett said.

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