Status of Covid-19 rapid antigen testing in New Zealand

Last updated 14 October 2021.

Here’s the Covid-19 testing situation, as it stands currently.

Covid-19 test regulations in New Zealand

  • No one is able to import, manufacture, supply, sell, pack or use a rapid Covid-19 test, without approval from the Ministry of Health. The legislation is available here: https://legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2021/0066/latest/whole.html#LMS451450
  • There is a current pilot trial running at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland. These trials will shortly be rolled out at Auckland City and North Shore hospitals.
  • Opposition parties are pushing for a faster rollout of rapid testing.
  • Importation/sale is separate from use. If a company gets approval to import a Covid-19 rapid test, their customers will each need to get approval to use the tests. Each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis by the Ministry of Health.
  • A coalition of companies have been given approval to import 300,000 rapid antigen tests. See NZ Herald: New Zealand businesses to import 300,000 rapid Covid tests – NZ Herald

Covid-19 test options available currently

The application process for approval takes a minimum of 25 working days — it’s not likely that there will be any options on the market for the general public within the next month.

Other countries

Australia: Rapid testing is available, under the oversight of a health practitioner. Tests can only be supplied to a health practitioner, or to a company who employs/contracts a health practitioner.
It’s expected that self-administered home testing will be approved in the future, but this is currently illegal.
UK: Rapid testing is available, with no restrictions for approved tests.
USA: Rapid testing is available, with no restrictions for approved tests.

Predictions

Restrictions on rapid Covid-19 testing in New Zealand is onerous currently, in contrast to other countries around the world.
We believe that restrictions will be rolled back in the near future, likely by the government setting guidelines regarding which companies may freely utilise rapid testing without requiring a permit.

Further updates

Sober Check has set up an email group to circulate updates and availability. Sign up here: Covid-19 rapid test signup