New Zealand plans gradual border reopening to the world from early 2022

New Zealand will open its doors to vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries from early 2022, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced.

In a speech, Ardern said the government would ramp up New Zealand’s Covid-19 vaccination program in preparation for a phased re-opening. “Our ultimate goal is to get quarantine-free travel for all vaccinated travelers. And what you can see from today is that our direction and ambition are clear. But we’re simply not in a position to fully reopen just yet,” said Ardern.

Ardern said the borders would not reopen until after New Zealand’s vaccine rollout was completed at the end of the year. The rollout has been much slower than in most developed nations, although is beginning to accelerate. She further added that from the first quarter of next year, the country would begin allowing travelers to arrive on a carefully managed basis.

Travelers from medium-risk countries would undertake some form of self-isolation or a shorter stay in a quarantined hotel, while MIQ would still be required for those coming from high-risk countries, or those who are unvaccinated. 

New Zealand has recorded one of the lowest rates of Covid-19 infection among developed nations. 

New Zealand’s success in erasing the coronavirus has allowed life to return almost to normal. The South Pacific nation of 5 million people has reported just 26 deaths since the pandemic began.

That’s been achieved in part by closing borders to those who aren’t residents or citizens.

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“From a population basis, it makes sense to get as many New Zealanders at least partially vaccinated quickly,” Ardern said.

The changes were generally welcomed by business owners, including those in the struggling tourism industry. Before the pandemic, more than 3 million overseas travelers visited New Zealand each year and tourism was among the country’s largest industries.

About 29% of New Zealanders have received one dose of the vaccine so far and 17% are fully vaccinated.

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