New Zealand plans to open its borders in early 2022. Initially, non-quarantine entry is to be allowed for fully vaccinated travelers from low epidemic risk countries.
Strict border controls and geographic location have helped New Zealand fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The Reuters agency pointed out that the 5-million-strong island nation in the Pacific managed to fight COVID-19 much faster than the rest of the world, but this put New Zealand practically completely cut off from the rest of the world.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday that the country is not yet ready for a full opening, but will open in stages from the beginning of next year. – We are simply not able to reopen fully yet – said the head of the government.
New Zealand – new entry rules
The gradual opening of the borders, as the Prime Minister pointed out, will mean a serious change of policy in the field of strict border controls, which has been going on for several months due to the pandemic. Thanks to the tight border of New Zealand, while it was largely successful in combating COVID-19, the entry of many foreign workers was blocked, resulting in acute labor shortages in some sectors of the economy.
The prime minister explained that, starting in the first quarter of 2022, New Zealand will introduce different border crossing routes for travelers from low, medium and high epidemic risk countries. “The risk of where a traveler is coming from will determine the next steps for that person,” said Ardern.
Under the new risk-based entry policy framework, vaccinated travelers from intermediate-risk countries will be either self-isolated or will stay in hotel quarantine reduced. Unvaccinated and vaccinated people traveling to New Zealand from high-risk countries will have to undergo the 14-day quarantine that currently applies to foreign travelers.
“If we abandon our border restrictions too soon, there will be no turning back and we may fall victim to the outbreak of the pandemic experienced by some countries that opened up early in the introduction of vaccines,” warned Ardern.
Coronavirus – New Zealand
New Zealand has been recognized as one of the most successful countries in managing the pandemic, mainly due to the introduction of strict entry rules in force from March 2020.
With 4.9 million people, the country has so far only recorded around 2,900 infections and 26 deaths, and has not been transmitting coronavirus for most of the pandemic.
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