No entries for foreign nationals will be allowed until the end of April 2022 when the new blueprint kicks in for a phased reopening.
Having implemented and enforced some of the world’s toughest pandemic border restrictions, New Zealand has announced that the rules will stay in place for a further five months before they officially open next year.
According to New Zealand’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, New Zealand citizens who have been stranded in Australia will finally be able to return from mid-January onwards. However, Kiwis who need to enter from other countries will need to wait at least until February.
As for foreign nationals, no entries will be allowed until the end of April under a new blueprint created for a phased reopening.
“We acknowledge it’s been tough, but the end of heavily restricted travel is now in sight,” Hipkins told reporters.
Having closed their borders in March last year, New Zealand required all international arrivals into the country to observe a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine, which had only recently been cut to seven days. Even after the reduction of quarantine days, travellers were only allowed in under the requirement that they were fully vaccinated, and had passed a series of Covid-19 tests.
The country’s strict travel requirements though effective, came at quite a cost to New Zealanders who were deterred from returning home to visit dying relatives due to no available rooms as restrictions had overtaxed the hotel quarantine system.
The new border announcement is New Zealand’s next step in restructuring their Covid-19 response to end lockdowns as the country has now recognized that the coronavirus and its more contagious Delta variant are destined to be endemic and impossible to avoid.
Cut off to the world, New Zealand’s strategy of eliminating the virus had capped the country’s Covid-19 death toll at only 40 deaths among a population of five million. In regards to the Delta variant, however, officials have admitted that total elimination of the virus is no longer feasible.
In response to New Zealanders around the world wanting borders to be open for Christmas, Hipkins has said that it wasn’t exactly a realistic expectation yet.
“There continues to be a global pandemic, with case numbers surging in Europe and other parts of the world,” he said.
“So we need to be careful about reopening our border, that’s what we’re doing and what we’ve always done.”
He also said that starting from December onwards, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Fiji and Brazil would no longer be classified as very high-risk countries, and nationals from those countries will be able to travel to New Zealand starting from April 30, 2022. There is also the possibility that personalised arrangements would be allowed for international students and Australians needing entry before April 30, but with no guarantees.
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