Wellington: Fully vaccinated New Zealanders will find it easier to come home from January 2022, with foreign nationals to follow from April onwards, as the government removes the requirement for managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) for most travellers, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Wednesday.
Fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers can travel to New Zealand from Australia without staying in MIQ from 11:59 p.m. local time on January 16, 2022, according to a plan announced by Hipkins at a press conference. Fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers can travel to New Zealand from all other countries from 11:59 p.m. local time on February 13, 2022, Hipkins said, adding all fully vaccinated individuals will be able to travel to New Zealand from April 30, 2022, onwards, with the re-opening staged over time.
"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, following our transition into the traffic light protection framework system and lifting of the Auckland boundary," he said.
The MIQ policy is replaced by a mandatory seven-day self-isolation, he added.
All travellers not required to go into MIQ will still require a negative pre-departure test, proof of being fully vaccinated, a passenger declaration about travel history, a day 0/1 test on arrival, a requirement to self-isolate for seven days, and a final negative test before entering the community, according to the government's reconnecting strategy.
"It's very encouraging that as a country we are now in a position to move towards greater normality," Hipkins said, adding the strategy will continue to be reviewed against the risk posed by travellers entering New Zealand.
"The border is our biggest risk for new cases," Hipkins said, adding the current outbreak which now has more than 7,000 cases associated with it, stems from a single traveller travelling from Australia to New Zealand.
A phased approach reduces any potential impacts on vulnerable communities and the New Zealand health system, he said, adding further details on how self-isolation will be implemented will be made available in December, and include guidance on how people can travel from their arrival airport to their location of self-isolation and requirements for the places where they can self-isolate.
On Wednesday, New Zealand reported 215 new community cases of COVID-19 Delta variant.