New Zealand’s Covid-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins has said that the country’s borders will resume to international visitors in 2022.
As of 16 January 2022, fully vaccinated New Zealand nationals and residents holding a residence-class visa will be allowed to enter the country without having to undergo a duration of managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ).
Fully vaccinated international travellers will be able to enter New Zealand from 30 April 2022 onwards, followed by a gradual reopening of the country’s borders (for returning citizens and residents) in January and February.
The Minister’s announcement left open the potential that the April 2022 wider openness may be “staged by visa category,” but no other information is available at this time. Minister Hipkins also stated that under the new strategy, even fully vaccinated visitors to New Zealand will be required to follow some quarantine and testing criteria.
Hipkins agreed that many New Zealanders expected the border to be open for Christmas, but he said that was unrealistic. “There continues to be a global pandemic, with case numbers surging in Europe and other parts of the world,” he said. “So we need to be careful about reopening our border, that’s what we’re doing and what we’ve always done.”
Every passenger travelling to New Zealand will require:
- a negative pre-departure test
- proof of being fully vaccinated
- a passenger declaration of travel history
- an arrival test
- a requirement to self-isolate for seven days, and
- a final negative test (at the end of the prescribed isolation period) before entering the community
“We always said we’d open in a controlled way,” said the Minister. “Retaining a seven-day isolate at home period for fully vaccinated travellers is an important phase in the reconnecting strategy to provide continued safety assurance. These settings will continue to be reviewed against the risk posed by travellers entering New Zealand.”
This week, the government also declared that the countries now classified on its “extremely high risk” country list will be eased. With the exception of New Zealand citizens and their families, travel from those countries is effectively prohibited.
“The Very High-Risk classification for Indonesia, Fiji, India, Pakistan, and Brazil will be withdrawn in early December,” according to a government statement dated November 24. “Travelers from these countries will be allowed to enter New Zealand on the same basis as travellers from most other countries.”
After the anticipated modifications to the list in December, only Papua New Guinea will be classified as a “very high risk” country for New Zealand. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, New Zealand’s borders have been effectively closed to foreign travel, and the scheduled reopening in April 2022 will be just over two years after the original shutdown of international travel in and out of the country.
At this time, there are no occurrences of the Omicron variant in New Zealand, but the evolving worldwide situation demonstrated the need for a cautious approach at the border, she said. “Omicron serves as a reminder of the danger that still remains at our borders,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
New Zealand has among the world’s strictest border regulations. International students are not likely to be able to go to New Zealand again until April 30. Chris Hipkins, the Covid-19 response minister, had stated that “bespoke” arrangements may allow international students and Australians to depart before April 30, but that no promises could be made.
On the other hand, New Zealand has imposed new border controls for visitors from nine southern African countries: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Seychelles, Malawi, and Mozambique.