This week, we’re taking the next steps in our plan to reconnect New Zealand with the world. Vaccinated Kiwis overseas are now able to return home without entering MIQ or having to self-isolate.
Over the past two years, the protections at our border have served us well, keeping COVID at bay and our communities safe. Thanks to measures like MIQ, New Zealand has had fewer COVID deaths than most other countries, and we’ve had time to protect more people with boosters before Omicron spread into our communities.
But while our border controls have saved countless lives, we also know they’ve been tough for many people. For many Kiwis, being separated from loved ones overseas has been one of the hardest parts of the pandemic. That’s why we’ve always said that as soon as it was safe to do so, we’d move forward with our plan to ease border restrictions and reconnect New Zealand with the world.
This week, following updated advice from health experts, we’ve been able to take the next steps in our plan. Here’s what this means for Kiwis returning home, and for tourists wanting to enjoy everything Aotearoa has to offer:
From 11:59pm on Wednesday 2 March, vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travellers from Australia no longer need to self-isolate when entering the country. All travellers are required to take a rapid antigen test on the day they arrive and on day 5/6.
From midnight on Friday 4 March, vaccinated New Zealanders from all other countries no longer need to self-isolate when entering the country.
From 11:59pm on Sunday 13 March, other eligible travellers such as working holiday visa holders and RSE workers will no longer need to self-isolate upon arrival.
All travellers will be required to take a rapid antigen test on the day they arrive and on day 5/6.
Temporary work visa holders who meet relevant visa requirements, and up to 5,000 international students, can travel to New Zealand without needing to self-isolate, as long as they are fully vaccinated and test negative upon arrival. This step is currently scheduled to begin in April.
All fully vaccinated travellers from Australia and other visa waiver countries can enter New Zealand without needing to self-isolate, as long as they test negative upon arrival. This step will begin by July at the latest, but is likely to begin earlier, depending on how the pandemic progresses.
All other visitors and students who require a visa to enter New Zealand will be able to travel into the country without needing to self-isolate, as long as they test negative upon arrival. This is scheduled for October, but Cabinet will also consider if this can start sooner.
As we ease our border restrictions, we’re making sure we do it as safely as possible. That’s why our plan is carefully phased, staggered into five steps to manage the number of people coming in and limit any extra pressure on our health system. All travellers will be required to get a negative pre-departure test before they get on the plane, and managed isolation will still be required for some people, including unvaccinated New Zealanders. These measures, along with our high vaccination rates and traffic lights framework, will help ensure we can continue to protect lives and livelihoods going forward.
We know this week’s announcement will be welcome news for Kiwis overseas, but it’s also a huge milestone for our tourism sector. Here in New Zealand, we take pride in our manaakitanga and our hospitality, and it’s been tough not being able to welcome tourists to our shores throughout the pandemic. While it will take time for our tourism industry to rebound, we’re looking forward to once again showing visitors the best of New Zealand’s unique attractions as we secure our recovery.
Together, Kiwis have achieved so much over the past few years. Thanks to our collective efforts, we’ve avoided the devastation seen in other countries, protected our health system and economy, and saved lives. Now, we’re in a strong position as we take the next steps and move forward with our plan to reconnect with the world.
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