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COVID-19: implications for our practice

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Printed: 19/06/2021
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Last updated: 17/05/2021

COVID-19 guidance for international travel of tamariki and rangatahi in care

We have additional considerations as a result of the recent changes to COVID-19 restrictions when tamariki and rangatahi in care are to travel overseas, including when a placement is to be made or they are going on holiday.

Context of this guidance

This guidance should be read alongside our existing policy for overseas placement and travel, and associated documents, which includes guardian consent and the required approval processes. This existing guidance regarding travel and placement overseas still applies with the exception that, while COVID-19 is a factor impacting travel overseas, all approvals for travel to places other than to Australia and the Cook Islands must be made at a DCE level.

Policy: When children and young people move (including overseas)

The COVID-19 travel policy includes information about approvals, including for staff-related travel overseas.

Staff resource: COVID-19 travel policy

Travel to Australia and the Cook Islands

New Zealanders can now travel between New Zealand and Australia and New Zealand and the Cook Islands without having to quarantine on arrival in either location.

At this stage, a travel bubble only exists between New Zealand and Australia and New Zealand and the Cook Islands. There is no bubble between Australia and the Cook Islands. This means that anyone traveling into New Zealand from either country must stay in New Zealand for 14 days before traveling to the other country. 

These arrangements could change at very short notice if there is community transmission of COVID-19 in either country, and either Government could pause quarantine-free travel for a time to assess the risk or suspend travel for a longer period. The New Zealand Government has developed guidance for how a case in Australia or the Cook Islands would be managed.

How a COVID-19 case in Australia would be managed — quarantine-free travel | Unite against COVID-19

How we would manage travel to the Cook Islands if there is a COVID-19 case | Unite against COVID-19 

Because of this it is important to check the status of the travel bubbles before you start any planning for a tamaiti to travel. The best way to do this is by reviewing the Government COVID-19 website.

Unite against COVID-19

It is critically important that before any travel is approved or undertaken there is consideration of the possible impacts of COVID-19 and contingency planning is carried out. The Government has provided guidance on what travellers need to do before travelling to Australia or the Cook Islands, at the airport and on arrival to help with preparation. It is important to ensure that everyone travelling is aware of the border requirements in Australia or the Cook Islands nationally, as well as the state or territory te tamaiti is travelling to.

Quarantine-free travel | Unite against COVID-19 

New Zealand safe travel zone | Australian Department of Home Affairs

Travel and border control | Cook Islands response to COVID-19 

Consultation with your manager and the International Child Protection Unit is essential at the earliest opportunity when international travel is being considered and before decisions and travel arrangements are made.


Approval for travel to Australia and the Cook Islands is set out in the Social Work Delegations.
Delegations for overseas travel – Placement, extended period or holiday

Contingency planning must cover:

  • arrangements in the event of community transmissions in a place that tamariki are travelling to and which leads to a local lockdown or restrictions on movement
  • the possibility of having to quarantine on return to New Zealand and/or on entry to Australia or the Cook Islands if the Government decides this is required due to community transmission where tamariki and caregivers have been travelling
  • the needs of tamariki and caregivers and how they will be met if they are required to stay overseas longer than expected – for example, if applicable, any medication required, arrangements for financial support or provision of education in the event of a significantly delayed return to New Zealand, and accommodation if it is not provided by an MIQ facility
  • making sure everyone is familiar with any restrictions that are in place where tamariki are travelling, and how these will be managed – for example, use of a COVID Tracer App and face masks.

Advice from the airline travel is booked with should be carefully reviewed to ensure an understanding of what will be required.

Travel to the rest of the world

At this stage, any international travel other than to Australia or the Cook Islands will require quarantine on arrival back in New Zealand. There may also be restrictions in place in the location that is being travelled to.

Before any other overseas travel arrangements are made, there must be evidence of rationale for why the travel is being undertaken and how any risks and needs will be mitigated and addressed.

Consultation with your manager and the International Child Protection Unit must be undertaken at the earliest opportunity when international travel is being considered and before decisions or plans are made. Final approval must be given by the DCE.


All decisions around international travel for tamariki and rangatahi in care should be clearly recorded in CYRAS and include the words COVID-19 in the casenote header.