New Zealand From January 17 next year, the international border will be reopened to citizens of the country who have been fully vaccinated against Kovid.
From this date the double-jabbed kiwi will be able to fly from Australia to New Zealand without having to undergo managed isolation and quarantine – which has limited space available – and can complete home quarantine.
The reopening of the border has been pushed back until after the Christmas school holiday period, throwing thousands of trans-Tasman family holiday plans into chaos, despite NZ opposition to open the border before was called.
There will be a further easing of travel restrictions from February 14, 2022, which will allow NZ citizens from most other countries – considered ‘very high risk’ – to fly into the country and avoid MIQ.
And finally from April 30, 2022, the Ardern government will open the border in phases to all foreign nationals and international visitors.
The New Zealand government is allowing fully vaccinated New Zealand residents to enter the country without hotel quarantine from 17 January (Picture: NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern)
On Wednesday, Jacinda Ardern’s COVID-19 response minister Chris Hipkins confirmed the opening dates and said travelers would still need a negative pre-departure test, proof of vaccination and a travel history declaration.
“It is about opening the borders in a progressive and secure manner,” he said.
Currently, overseas New Zealanders must win a spot in the Quarantine Lottery – with limited places – and spend 10 days in isolation before entering the community.
This has caused much anger, with many people locked up in their own country, and thousands of different families.
‘When it comes to COVID-19, there are often no easy decisions. We have often been faced with the task of making less-than-worst decisions… Seema is clearly an example of this,’ he said.
About 20,000 people are affected by canceled Air New Zealand flights as of January, with the airline offering refunds (Picture: Sydney airport in November)
The announcement provides some clarity to those looking to return to or travel to New Zealand after Air New Zealand canceled 1,000 flights this week due to ‘ongoing uncertainty’ over border closures.
The airline has canceled almost all flights to and from Australia till December 31.
At least 20,000 passengers have booked tickets on flights, all of them hopeful that countries will reopen to each other first Christmas,
The move comes after Jacinda Ardern’s government made a recent statement that they would be unlikely to lift harsh travel restrictions before the new year, throwing travel plans for families and vacationers alike into chaos.
Air New Zealand’s chief customer and sales officer Lynn Geraghty said the airline was left with little choice but to cancel flights – dashing long-awaited reunification plans for thousands of people.
“This will be particularly difficult news for families and friends who were hoping to catch up on Christmas,” Ms Geraghty said.
‘I appreciate how difficult this news will be, but our hands are tied until border restrictions are eased, and we get more clarity from the New Zealand government.’
Affected customers should be able to get a refund on their tickets or keep the cost of the fare with the airline in credit.
New Zealand’s travel ban in place since July after Jasina Ardern slammed borders closed to Australians
On Tuesday, New Zealand’s opposition leader Judith Collins said a fed up Kiwi was heading to Australia because of her government’s handling of the lockdown and border rules.
She alleged that NZ was jeopardizing its international reputation by reopening the border by 2022, when it should allow fully vaccinated, freedom of movement for COVID-negative travellers.
“The trans-Tasman bubble needs to open,” Ms Collins said in Wellington on Tuesday.
‘We need to stop this fortress mentality, and we need to reconnect with the world in a safe way.’
NZ’s management of the Delta outbreak, which came from NSW in August, dominates Kiwi politics.
Since September, the government has besieged Auckland to tackle the caseload.
Now, Jacinda Ardern’s government is prioritizing dismantling that internal border rather than reopening international borders, citing the ‘cumulative risk’ of too many changes at once.
Holiday reunion plans for thousands of Australians and New Zealanders with family in Tasman despite high vaccination rates refusing to lift travel restrictions (Picture: Sydney airport in November)
Tight restrictions within the country are expected to be eased from 3 December and will allow businesses to operate in its largest city, Auckland.
A new traffic light system will rate areas as red, orange or green depending on the level of exposure to COVID and vaccination rates.
Auckland, the epicenter of Delta’s outbreak, will start in red, making face masks mandatory and limiting gatherings in public places.
Ms Ardern said about 83% of eligible New Zealanders have been fully vaccinated, while 88% have had their first shot.
The government had earlier said the country would abandon lockdown measures and move to traffic-light systems to manage outbreaks after 90% of the eligible population was fully immunized.
Ms Ardern and Mr Hipkins address reporters in Wellington last week (pictured)