Vaccine mandates have been canceled for domestic flights, with international services set to follow in May.
Now that New Zealand’s Covid-19 traffic light setting has been downgraded nationwide from red to orange, its flag carrier has begun the process of rolling back key restrictions. Domestic travelers no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative pre-departure test, though it is still mandatory to wear a mask at airports and inside the cabin except while eating and drinking.
Air New Zealand has already resumed food and beverage services on domestic routes, and today marks the return of Koru Hour, a popular offering that was suspended twice during the Covid-19 pandemic. Koru Hour is served on all weekday domestic jet services between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., when passengers can enjoy hand-cut cheese and crackers along with a selection of New Zealand wine and beer, all for free.
The airline initially announced its “no jab, no fly” policy for international travelers last October, and the rule took effect from February 1 this year. But the short-lived regulation will be phased out at 11:59 p.m. on May 1, when New Zealand’s borders reopen to travelers from all countries with visa-free access. This means that both vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers will be allowed on board the carrier’s flights.
In a statement, Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said New Zealand was moving back toward a sense of normality thanks to high vaccination rates and declining numbers of new infections. “As Omicron took hold in the community, we put in place several temporary measures aimed at keeping our employees, customers and New Zealand safe. After a careful risk assessment, we feel now is the right time to step back some of those measures,” he explained. “We’re aware that Covid is not behind us yet and we have taken a considered approach and will continue to revise safety measures depending on what we’re seeing here in New Zealand and around the world.”
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