Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the changes to the border restrictions this afternoon, which means from midnight Wednesday fully vaccinated New Zealanders can return from Australia without needing to self-isolate.
Step 2 of the reopening plan has also been brought forward a week, allowing New Zealand travellers from the rest of the world to come home from midnight Friday. Originally the timeframe revealed by the government required those travellers to enter managed isolation.
"I know this will be welcome news to the members of our team overseas who are eager to travel home to see loved ones as soon as possible. We can't wait to see you," Ardern said.
"As we move through the Omicron outbreak and peak, we will continue to move restrictions when advised it is safe to do so. Today that is what we have been told, and that is what we are doing."
However, unvaccinated returnees will still need to enter MIQ, with the PM saying MIQ still remains a useful tool even if it is not used to the same extent as it was in the past, and has the capacity to scale up if needed.
All travellers would need to do a pre-departure test before getting on the plane, and would still need to do a Rapid Antigen Test on the day they arrived and day five or six and all positive tests would be followed up with PCR testing.
The cabinet will soon consider any further changes to the timeline of the border reopening shortly, which could pave the way for non-New Zealand travellers to arrive on our shores sooner than anticipated.
"The advice from our experts is that getting over the peak of Omicron should be factored into this timing and those decisions.
"But as a result of the decision taken today I can assure you now, that as we open, all vaccinated travellers who test negative on arrival with a rapid antigen test will be able to immediately enjoy New Zealand and all it has to offer and not have to self-isolate."