COVID-19 Response

The below information is intended to provide the latest updates of our involvement in the response to COVID-19 through Operation PROTECT.

COVID-19 information for our personnel and their families can be found on the Force4Families website.

Information last updated: 27 November 2020

Media releases 

Prepared to help

We are a Force for New Zealand, actively supporting the All of Government COVID-19 response, and Operation PROTECT remains an NZDF priority.

Regardless of the alert level, we will continue to play our part in the All of Government response while maintaining our normal responsibilities and operational commitments.

We are structured, equipped and trained for a range of crisis contingencies and this is evidenced in the wide range of roles we have filled to date as part of the COVID-19 response.

We are contributing expert personnel in a wide range of planning functions across the All of Government response.

Support to the Government 

By the numbers

In total there are currently 906 NZDF personnel supporting the All of Government (AoG) response to COVID-19.

This includes a small group involved in roles in planning and logistics at places such as Police National Headquarters, Ministry of Health, and the Operational Command Centre.

On an operational level, most personnel are involved in security and staff roles at Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities, as well as at the maritime border.

Isolation and Quarantine

We currently have a small number of personnel working alongside other agencies in the Regional Isolation and Quarantine Co-ordination Centres located throughout the country.

Our personnel working in the Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities have a range of duties which include providing information to returnees, co-ordination between facility and other agency staff, assisting with security, and oversight and guidance on procedures within the facility.

We are just one part of the team working in each Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facility. Each team has representatives from Ministry of Health (health and wellbeing), Defence (admin and logistics), Police and Aviation Security (security) and Ministry of Social Development (welfare).

Air Commodore Darryn Webb has been seconded to the All of Government COVID-19 National response and is currently the Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine. Air Commodore Webb has been involved in Government repatriation planning efforts since the beginning of April.

The Director General of Health has authorised enforcement officer powers under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 to members of the Armed Forces working within Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities. Members of the Armed Forces are now able to give legally enforceable directions, and to request a person to provide identifying information. Examples of directions given may be for a person to stay in their room, and an information request could include a request for someone to provide their name.

Maritime Border

Our personnel are supporting the NZ Customs Service with Maritime Security and Border Monitoring.

About 80 NZDF personnel drawn from the Navy and the Air Force are supporting NZ Customs with port patrol and enforcement activities under the Maritime Border Order at ports throughout the country.

The Director General of Health has authorised enforcement officer powers under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 to members of the Armed Forces working at the Maritime Border. These powers will allow members of the Armed Forces to operate more effectively and offer some protection for going about their general tasks.

While deployed in support of NZ Customs, members of the Armed Forces are now able to give legally enforceable directions, request a person to provide identifying information, and have been granted the power of entry to places and crafts. Examples of directions given may be for a person to remain on board their ship, and an information request could include a request for someone to provide their name. An example of the power of entry could be to board a ship if there was reason to believe that people who were isolating were not complying with directions.

Operational outputs

The current level of commitment is significant for the NZDF and we continue to review our activities to ensure we can meet our obligations under Op PROTECT while also maintaining our training commitments to personnel, force generation activities, mandated operational deployments and ability to respond to requests for aid to the civil power.

There has understandably been some requirement to postpone or cancel activities. However, priority is being placed on maintaining activities which directly contribute to operational readiness.

While our support to our operational deployments continues, additional considerations have been added in to our planning cycles to ensure we are prepared for any contingencies related to COVID-19, and its impact on our ability to move our personnel internationally in a safe manner.

Protecting our personnel

We are actively protecting our personnel so we can continue to protect New Zealand. 

We have an active strategy to protect our personnel throughout the full range of alert levels. Protective measures are in line with Ministry of Health Guidelines and cover both individuals and workplaces.

Personnel working within the Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities comply with the health protection measures required at all times.

There are clear protocols in place within the facilities for when personal protective equipment should be worn. This ranges from no equipment required, to gloves and masks, or full gown, gloves, mask and goggles to be worn depending on the task and circumstance.

If our personnel become symptomatic while working within the Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities, they are isolated on site until they can be assessed by medical personnel. They will be tested for COVID-19 and isolated until the results of that test are known.

If our personnel become symptomatic after leaving a Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facility, they immediately self-isolate and contact their closest Defence Health Centre for assessment. Any further actions will be in line with Ministry of Health Guidelines and as directed by their health professionals.

Additional consideration has been given to our personnel who live in shared accommodation such as barracks, with each barrack block being treated as a household bubble for the purposes of contact tracing and any required periods of isolation.

Images and video

You can view our imagery and video here.

Contact

Media enquiries about our involvement in the response to Covid-19 can be directed to the All of Government response team at media@mbie.govt.nz

For all other media enquiries, please call Defence Public Affairs on 021 487 980 or media@nzdf.mil.nz