New Zealand to reopen border to vaccinated foreign travelers, 2 years on from COVID closure

·2 min read

New Zealand will reopen to most international travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 next year, in a gradual lifting of border restrictions that have been in place since March 2020.

Why it matters: NZ imposed some of the world's toughest pandemic measures and largely contained the virus to managed hotel quarantine facilities for returning New Zealand residents. Its economy had rebounded before Delta arrived in August and domestic restrictions returned.

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The big picture: COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told a briefing Wednesday that from 11:59pm on Jan. 16, fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travelers can travel to NZ from Australia without staying in quarantine facilities, though there are negative test requirements.

  • They will initially have to self-isolate for seven days, with the goal of removing the requirement at some point. "We will keep that under constant review," Hipkins said.

  • The border would open to fully vaccinated NZ permanent residents from all other countries from Feb. 13, and foreign travelers who are inoculated against COVID-19 can travel to New Zealand from April 30.

Yes, but: People from countries classed as "very high risk" still won't be permitted to enter NZ. Papua New Guinea is currently the only nation that would be affected by this.

For the record: Auckland, NZ's most populous city and the center of the Delta outbreak, has been under restrictions since August.

  • These are beginning to ease amid the ongoing Delta outbreak, as the country moves to the COVID-19 Protection Framework. This includes a vaccine mandate for businesses such as bars, restaurants, gyms and hair salons — which means they can't operate unless all staff are fully vaccinated.

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