Pharmacies waiting on the arrival of rapid antigen tests the afternoon before the rollout of the testing regime say they should have been given more time.
As Auckland's border opens tomorrow, proof of a supervised rapid antigen test will be required by travellers from the city who are not vaccinated.
Free rapid antigen testing will be rolled out at around 600 pharmacies across the country tomorrow, with 250,000 tests already dispatched on Tuesday - including 65,000 to pharmacies - according to the Ministry of health.
Auckland's Bays Health Pharmacy owner and pharmacist Monterrey Wigglesworth said they were still waiting on tests at 3pm today, and she also had not been able to access the computer system required to conduct them.
"I've done all the training online but I haven't got the test in my hand and I've got bookings already," she said.
"If we don't have access to the computer system, which supposedly we should have before this, then we'll start out manually, giving people pieces of paper, and possibly texting from our own text system.
"It shouldn't have come down to this, it shouldn't be coming down to the day before and we don't have all the resources."
They had ordered 300 tests. Wigglesworth said she had bookings up until December 30, including seven tomorrow.
"I understand the need but it's a lot of pressure. We want to offer the services and everything but luckily we have staff that are willing to work extra at this time."
Hamilton Pharmacy owner and pharmacist Raman Saini said ordering the rapid antigen tests had required opening a new account, which had likely delayed some pharmacies.
He said Hamilton Pharmacy had received its order of 100 tests, but his other pharmacy had not managed to create an account in time, and therefore had no stock.
"I imagine there's a lot of people who haven't been able to order because they haven't had that account because it hasn't been needed [before now]."
"The problem is that there hasn't been enough time to roll it out properly."
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said a project team had worked "at pace" with pharmacy representatives and DHBs for the rollout of supervised rapid antigen testing.
"The Ministry has made all efforts to ensure sufficient stocks of rapid antigen tests are available as needed by community pharmacies to meet testing demands, and we have encouraged them to 'front-load' as much as possible so they have test kits on hand."
Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand chief executive Andrew Gaudin said everything possible had been done to prepare pharmacies but they would be under greater pressure due to the rollout of the tests.
"While pharmacies have always stepped up to support their communities during Covid-19 lockdowns, and with Covid-19 vaccinations and vaccine passes, the timeframe for implementing rapid antigen tests has been very short.
"This will put pharmacies under greater pressure. We ask that people be respectful of this, and that they are patient if they need to wait for some services."
People eligible for a rapid antigen test could book or turn up at the pharmacy – but they should be prepared to wait.
"Pharmacies are working under immense pressure to offer Covid-19 vaccinations, vaccine passes and now rapid antigen tests on top of their normal pharmacy services," Gaudin said.
"Depending on a pharmacy's workload, people may need to wait for some services, and we ask that they be patient. People also need to be aware that not all pharmacies have the capacity to offer this service."
Test results would be available 15 minutes after the rapid antigen test, and people would be contacted via text message – which could be used as official proof of a negative test.
In the event of a positive test, the pharmacist would contact the person and instruct them to seek a PCR test immediately.