New Zealand’s intentions to reopen its borders and enable foreigners to enter the country next year have been revealed.
Visitors who are fully vaccinated can enter starting on April 30 and will be required to self-isolate for seven days after they arrive.
From early next year, more New Zealanders will be able to go home under the same conditions. The action relaxes tight restrictions that have kept many citizens and visitors out since the COVID epidemic began when borders were slammed shut.
On Monday, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins detailed the planned staged reopening, saying it is “the safest strategy to ensure risk is carefully managed.”
Fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents who are currently in Australia will be able to return from the 16th of January onwards in the first phase of the re-opening.
New Zealanders who are currently residing in any other country will be able to enter on February 13th.
From April 30th, foreign visitors will be the final group allowed entry into the country. All travellers must be fully vaccinated, self-isolated for seven days, and have their COVID levels tested upon arrival.
Only New Zealand citizens and permanent residents are currently permitted to enter the country, and they must stay in government-run quarantine motels for seven days. The rules have effectively kept away many New Zealanders who seek to return because they have restricted spaces.
New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to close its borders early in the pandemic, as part of a widely praised firm stance against COVID that resulted in few deaths. Aside from the travel restrictions, it used swift, harsh lockdowns to put an end to previous outbreaks.
However, the government has struggled to combat the virus’s extremely infectious Delta strain, forcing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to shift her approach from total COVID eradication to promoting higher vaccination rates and treating the virus is endemic.
It had set up a travel bubble with Australia earlier this year but had to call it off months later due to outbreaks in both nations.