New Zealand sets date to reopen to tourists after almost two years
Good news for those that like to travel.
After being one of the first countries to shut its borders during the Covid-19 pandemic, New Zealand has announced plans to reopen after nearly two years of restrictions.
As part of the phased reopening plans, fully vaccinated visitors will be allowed to enter the country from 30 April, 2022.
That is before the first stage of the border reopening whereby fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents will be allowed to return to the country from neighbouring Australia from 16 January onwards.
Meanwhile, fully vaccinated New Zealanders from most other countries - aside from those deemed "very high-risk" - will be allowed to return from 13 February.
These travellers will not need to enter the country's quarantine hotels but will need to self-isolate for seven days upon arrival.
As it stands, only citizens and permanent residents of New Zealand are able to enter the country and they must stay for a week in the quarantine hotels.
With the hotels' limited spaces, these measures have essentially prevented many Kiwis from entering New Zealand again.
“Closing our border was one of the first steps we took to keep our country safe from Covid-19 and it’ll be the last thing we open up," New Zealand's Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement.
“We have a clear, simple and safe plan, including a mandatory period of self-isolation.
“We are making this announcement today to give families, businesses, visitors and airline and airport companies certainty and time to prepare.
"It’s very encouraging that as a country we are now in a position to move towards greater normality."
While noting that some people and businesses want New Zealand to open up before Christmas, Hipkins said that expert advice "continues to show" that the border is New Zealand's "biggest risk for new cases".
“A phased approach to reconnecting with the world is the safest approach to ensure risk is carefully managed," he added.
"This reduces any potential impacts on vulnerable communities and the New Zealand health system."