WELLINGTON, New Zealand — 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 travelers, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Wednesday.
Fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travelers can travel to New Zealand from Australia without staying in MIQ from 11:59 p.m. local time on Jan. 16, 2022, according to a plan announced by Hipkins at a press conference.
Fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travelers can travel to New Zealand from all other countries from 11:59 p.m. local time on Feb. 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 travelers 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 travelers 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 traveler traveling 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.
New Zealand reported 215 new Delta variant cases of COVID-19 in the community on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country’s current community outbreak to 7,484.
Among the new infections, 181 were recorded in the largest city of Auckland, 18 in nearby Waikato, three in Northland, 12 in Bay of Plenty, and one in Canterbury, according to the Ministry of Health.
A total of 87 cases are being treated in hospitals, including eight in intensive care units or high dependency units, a ministry statement said.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Zealand stands at 10,241 currently, according to the health ministry.
To date, 92 percent of the eligible population in New Zealand had their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and 84 percent are fully vaccinated, it said.