Coronavirus: What does New Zealand’s alert level 4 lockdown mean for travel?

Coronavirus: What does New Zealand’s alert level 4 lockdown mean for travel?

The country is about to shut down in response to the coronavirus outbreak – meaning all New Zealanders, except for those working in essential services, need to stay at home. 

But if you need to get elsewhere before the country is locked down, here is the latest advice for domestic travel for the next 48 hours. 

AIR TRAVEL

Air New Zealand will increase domestic flight capacity to allow people to get home before a country-wide lockdown to limit the spread of coronavirus starts on Wednesday.

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More domestic flights will be run by Air New Zealand to help people return home ahead of a full lockdown due to coronavirus.

SUPPLIED

More domestic flights will be run by Air New Zealand to help people return home ahead of a full lockdown due to coronavirus.

The airline made the announcement following the prime minister’s address on Monday. More information would be made available in the coming hours, it said.

If travellers were feeling unwell, particularly with a cough, shortness of breath or fever, or sneezing or have a runny nose, the Government urged them not to travel.

Once the alert level 4 lockdown is in place, air travel will only be available for people needing transport to undertake essential services, and for the transport of freight.

Visitors and tourists can use domestic air travel to proceed to an international airport to reach international airlines to travel home.

But the Government is warning travellers not to go to the airport unless they have a ticket. Instead, travellers should contact a travel agent or airline directly, or contact their country’s embassy.

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand said it would endeavour to operate its current schedule as planned until at least the end of the week.  

When alert level 4 is activated, air travel will be restricted to transporting people for essential services and for freight.

JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF

When alert level 4 is activated, air travel will be restricted to transporting people for essential services and for freight.

Air New Zealand was thrown a lifeline by the Government in the form of a $900 million loan but still needs to meet certain provisions including not closing any routes on its domestic network.

The airline had already planned to cut domestic capacity by 30 per cent because demand was affected by the Covid-19.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT AND CAR TRAVEL

Public transport will only be available for those working in essential services, for medical reasons and to get to the supermarket. 

Ferry services, road and rail will still be available for the transport of essential goods.

Driving in private vehicles is allowed, but where possible people must practice physical distancing.

Personal walks and other active travel is allowed, provided the two-metre physical distancing requirement is adhered to at all times.

InterCity Buses would still be operating but warned people over the age of 70, or with underlying conditions, not travel on its services. 

Ardern told the country roadworks would not be put in place to prevent people travelling to different regions.

People with any Covid-19-related issues who must travel are required to use private transport. If that’s not possible, they should call the Healthline (0800 358 5453) for advice.

TRAINS

KiwiRail has already suspended its three tourist trains as part of the response to the virus.

​​On Sunday, KiwiRail group chief executive Greg Miller said the Monday TranzAlpine, Northern Explorer and Coastal Pacific trains had been cancelled, and the services would be suspended until further notice.

KiwiRail has already suspended its three tourist trains as part of the response to the virus.

SUPPLIED/KIWIRAIL

KiwiRail has already suspended its three tourist trains as part of the response to the virus.

“The decision is in line with the Government policy of limiting non-essential travel around New Zealand.”

Full refunds will be available for impacted customers where we have cancelled services, he said. 

However, the Capital Connection service, a commuter service that runs weekdays between Palmerston North and Wellington, would continue to operate because of the role it plays in public transport.   

FERRY SERVICES

On Sunday, KiwiRail also made changes to its Interislander ferry service due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It had already reduced the passenger limit numbers on each sailing in order to allow for physical distancing.

From Monday, the Aratere would become a freight-only service, including rail freight and commercial vehicles, until the end of June.

“This move will help ensure resilience in shifting freight across Cook Strait,” Miller said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has raised the country's alert level to four: "I have a very keen sense of the magnitude of this moment in New Zealand's history and we did not take this decision lightly."

HAGEN HOPKINS/GETTY

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has raised the country’s alert level to four: “I have a very keen sense of the magnitude of this moment in New Zealand’s history and we did not take this decision lightly.”

Affected passengers have been transferred to the Kaiarahi or Kaitaki, which would continue to operate passenger and commercial vehicle services. 

“KiwiRail is committed to ensuring that Interislander remains operational, as a crucial transport link between the North and South Islands,” Miller said.

“These are unprecedented times for our business and for New Zealand as a whole. We thank our customers and the public for their patience during this period of uncertainty.” 



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