Covid-19 test requirements for travellers heading for New Zealand look set to be scrapped from early next week.
Facing increased pressure to do away with the costly and disruptive tests, it is understood the Government is poised to announce they will go.
An announcement could be made as early as tomorrow that would require law changes and mean the tests could no longer be required by the start of next week.
A spokesman for new Covid-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall said the future of the tests had been discussed at Cabinet on Monday.
Scrapping the requirement would bring New Zealand into line with a growing number of countries that have done away with them. The United States has just dropped them, joining much of Europe, Australia, many Pacific Island countries and growing numbers of Asian nations in no longer requiring tests.
The travel and tourism industries have been pushing hard to allow vaccinated travellers - including returning Kiwis - to be able to avoid the tests which must be supervised and are costly and disruptive. They could stand people overseas until they test negative.
Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran yesterday told the Herald he hoped the tests would be gone in time for the July school holidays. The tests added friction to travelling and costs.
He recently had to pay US$100 ($160) for a supervised rapid antigen test in New York.
In Brisbane they have cost travellers $72 and in London $100 and some have complained of increased difficulty finding the places to get tests.
House of Travel commercial director Brent Thomas hopes there will be changes to difficult and time-consuming forms. The firm had also heard of people have missing flights waiting for Covid test results at airports.
''This change will reduce the cost of travel – especially significant for a family travelling, as it means that customers will not incur additional cost as they will be able to travel back rather than wait for the required number of days after testing positive.''
Act Party leader David Seymour said today Verrall's expected announcement that pre-departure testing will be gone next week is the kind of common-sense practicality the role needs.
"Pre-departure testing has long passed its use-by date. ACT called for it to go a month ago but just like with MIQ, scanning, and the whole Traffic Light System, the Government is a bit slow to catch on.''
He said Verrall is off to a good start by dumping rules that don't make sense.
Earlier this week National's Covid-19 Response spokesman Chris Bishop said New Zealand should follow the lead of the US and drop all pre-departure testing requirements for incoming passengers.
"Australia did away with pre-departure testing weeks ago, and now the United States is following suit. The world is moving on, but New Zealand insists that anyone coming here must present a negative test before getting on a plane."
He said the former Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins had admitted the value of the pre-departure testing is now low and a month ago said that its "days were numbered".
"Pre-departure tests made sense when we were pursuing elimination. But they make zero sense when we already have thousands of cases a day at home,'' said Bishop.
"New Zealand businesses and tourism operators are crying out for support, and this is a simple, logical way to remove a barrier to coming here that is past its use-by date.''