New Zealand will keep its borders closed to most international travelers for an additional five months, the government said on Wednesday, highlighting a cautious easing of border restrictions in place since the COVID-19 hit in March 2020.
Besides its geographic isolation, the South Pacific country has enforced some of the toughest pandemic restrictions among OECD countries, limiting the spread of COVID-19 and helping its economy rebound faster than many of its peers.
But an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant earlier this year forced a shift in strategy, with the main city of Auckland only opening up gradually as vaccination rates rise.
Fully vaccinated international travelers will be allowed to enter the country from April 30, 2022, with a gradual reopening, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said at a press conference.
Fully vaccinated New Zealanders and residence visa holders in neighboring Australia can travel to New Zealand from January 16, while vaccinated New Zealanders and residence visa holders from other countries will be allowed to enter from February 13.
“A phased approach to reconnecting with the world is the safest approach to ensure risks are carefully managed,” Hipkins said.
“This reduces any potential impact on vulnerable communities and New Zealand’s health system.”
Travelers will no longer be required to stay in state quarantine facilities, he said, but other measures will be put in place, including a negative test before departure, proof of being fully vaccinated and a COVID-19 test on arrival.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by DAILYNEWSCATCH staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)