New Zealand has revealed its approach towards reopening for tourism. The country gained a reputation for its no-nonsense approach to dealing with the pandemic, enforcing lockdowns over just a few cases and all-but sealing off its borders to international travelers in an effort to prevent cases of Covid-19 from being imported from abroad. Now, for the first time since the pandemic, international travel looks set to become a reality in the coming year.
The country is set to adopt a multi-staged approach to its upcoming reopening, with different groups being allowed in at different periods throughout the coming year, but a flare up of positive cases is likely to see the country return to square one. Here’s everything you need to know about the reopening plans that New Zealand announced this week, plus a look at the present day Covid-19 situation in the country.
New Zealand Reopening – What Travelers Should Know
Despite being a problem for travelers, New Zealand’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been praised by people around the world, and cited as an example of the effect that swift, decisive action can have. Cases of Covid-19 remained low throughout the pandemic, and the country’s reluctance to ease its restrictions during periods of particularly low cases ensured they remained low, when other countries around the world experienced several new waves.
Since April, New Zealand has enjoyed a travel bubble with Australia, allowing travelers to be able to fly between the two countries without needing to quarantine. However, rises in positive cases in both countries led to the bubble being paused and restarted on several occations, leaving travelers in limbo and friends and families separated. This week however, New Zealand announced new plans to open up to international travel next year.
New Zealand’s plans to reopen were outlined by the country’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins. The country’s first stage of reopening will see fully vaccinated citizens of New Zealand and residents of the country who are currently in Australia be allowed to return from January 16th. Just a few weeks later, on February 13th, New Zealanders that are currently in other countries will be allowed to return home.
The final stage of the country’s reopening will see foreign visitors able to visit the country for the first time in over a year. Foreign travelers will be granted entry from April 30th, in a move that will see the country completely reverse its travel restrictions in just a few months. Those entering New Zealand will still face some restrictions – all arrivals must be vaccinated and tested for Covid-19 upon arrival, and must then self-isolate for seven days.
While travelers will have a little longer to wait until they can visit, the reopening strategy has been planned with safety in mind. Speaking about the decision to reopen, Hipkin said:
“A phased approach to reconnecting with the world is the safest approach to ensure risk is carefully managed. This reduces any potential impacts on vulnerable communities and the New Zealand health system.”
The decision to announce their reopening plans comes off the back of a period of uncharacteristically high case levels. The country has a 7-day rolling average of 189 cases, and had recently set their new pandemic record of 222 cases. Around 70% of the country are fully vaccinated.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories