What We Know About New Zealand’s Planned Border Reopening

Entry restrictions will be progressively eased from mid-January 2022, with priority given to fully vaccinated citizens living abroad.

Lake Matheson in the South Island’s West Coast region. (Photo: Yoal Desurmont/Unsplash)

New Zealand’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has just released a definitive timeline for the country’s phased reopening to international travelers. The first stage will kick in on January 17, 2022, when fully vaccinated Kiwis in Australia and their dependents no longer face two-week quarantines in MIQ (managed isolation) facilities, although they would have to self-isolate at home for seven days and undergo regular post-arrival testing. Hipkins said the self-isolation requirement would be maintained “while it is needed,” based on advice from public health experts. Citizens, permanent residents, and other eligible travelers who have not been double-jabbed will need to spend seven days in MIQ facilities followed by another three days of self-isolation at home.

Then on February 13, managed quarantines will be scrapped for fully inoculated New Zealanders living in other countries. But foreign tourists must wait until April 30 to regain quarantine-free access to the island nation. Incoming travelers will have to present a negative result from a pre-departure Covid-19 test, carry proof of vaccination, and fill out a declaration that they had not been to a “very high risk” country within the previous 14 days. “A phased approach to reconnecting with the world is the safest approach to ensure risk is carefully managed,” Hipkins said. “This reduces any potential impacts on vulnerable communities and the New Zealand health system.”

The minister added that Brazil, Fiji, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan would be taken off the “very high risk” list from early December, allowing New Zealanders in those countries to go through shortened self-isolation periods should they return home for the year-end holidays. The only remaining nation in that category, Papua New Guinea, will continue to be classified as such. Notably, New Zealand is no longer pursuing a travel bubble with Australia; this means that most Australian holidaymakers will have to wait until the end of April 2022 to cross the Tasman without needing to quarantine.

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