After spending a month in lockdown, New Zealand has today moved from the COVID-19 alert level 4 to level 3. The government had closed the country’s borders and imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As well as allowing some of the population to return to work, this latest development means eased restrictions for arriving and departing superyachts. 

“With our government taking a hard and fast approach to the pandemic, after four weeks of full lockdown we have seen some really positive results,” comments Ben Osborne, director 37South Yachts. “From 28 April, we move into what the government is calling level 3, where superyachts will be allowed entry into New Zealand on a case-by-case basis. Once we move into level 2, we understand this will again be reviewed and, all going well, restrictions eased further.”

New Zealand's Ministry of Health has issued advice stating that all superyachts and pleasure craft wishing to enter the country during the current border restrictions will be assessed by border agencies on a case-by-case basis. Vessels given approval to arrive will be required to provide information about the health of those on board and potential exposures to COVID-19. If the craft arrives within 14 days of departure from the last port of call health officers will meet the craft on arrival, along with other border agencies. The persons on board will complete 14 days of self-isolation on board the craft (less the time spent at sea) either at anchor or a secure berth.

Currently, the formal statement from New Zealand’s customs department reads; “New Zealand’s border is currently closed to almost all travellers to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Effectively, the New Zealand border is closed for all but essential travel. Only New Zealand citizens and residents, as well as some other specified travellers, are permitted to enter New Zealand without having to apply for an exception. Visa waiver crew (including Australian citizens not resident in New Zealand) travelling on superyachts and pleasure craft are not exempt from the closure of New Zealand’s border, and current immigration instructions state they must be refused entry permission unless they meet one of the exceptions.”

While there is no travel permitted around New Zealand, superyachts are also now able to leave. The Ministry of Health has advised that all superyachts and other pleasure craft looking to depart New Zealand during the current border restrictions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Vessels may leave New Zealand if they do not have COVID-19, or a reasonable suspicion of COVID-19, on board, are adequately prepared for their journey and do not pose a high threat to public health (e.g. by requiring search and rescue assistance by NZ).

The customs department has instructed in its statment; “All superyachts and pleasure craft looking to depart New Zealand during the current border restrictions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis prior to approval being given. The assessment will take into account the presence of or reasonable suspicion of COVID-19 in those on board, and that vessels and crew are adequately prepared for their journey and do not pose a high threat to public health.”

37South is currently working on a number of specific cases with New Zealand’s Immigration department to see if foreign superyacht crew are allowed entry into New Zealand, and will update SuperyachtNews.com on the outcomes in due course. The company has reportedly had no issues with foreign crew leaving the country.


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