New Zealand will reopen to visitors for the first time in almost two years.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern closed the borders early in the pandemic, and they have remained closed for nearly two years.
The country will first allow fully-vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residence visa holders from Australia to return on January 16, 2022.
This will then be extended to fully-vaccinated residence visa holders from most other countries on February 13.
All other vaccinated visitors will be allowed to re-enter the country from April 30.
As per Reuters, Covid-19 Response Minister Christ Hipkins said that those currently travelling will still need to self-isolate.
We will eventually reach a point where people will be able to move much more freely across the border and those periods of self isolation won’t be required. We’re not at that point yet.
He added that this precaution ‘reduces any potential impacts on vulnerable communities’.
However, travellers will no longer be required to stay in state quarantine facilities to do so.
Hipkins continued, ‘A phased approach to reconnecting with the world is the safest approach to ensure risk is carefully managed.’
The new rules will also require a negative pre-departure test, proof of vaccination and a Covid test on arrival.
While some are disappointed the country will not reopen for Christmas, Hipkins defended the decision.
As per The Guardian, he said:
Some people and businesses want us to start to open up before Christmas, and that’s understandable, but others want us to be more cautious. We acknowledge it’s been tough but the end of heavily restricted travel is now in sight.
The tentative reopening is inline with New Zealand’s Covid-19 response so far.
An outbreak in the Delta variant earlier this year delayed reopening, with the country’s main city of Auckland only now re-opening.