MIQ axed, borders to reopen for Kiwis

By Will Trafford

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced borders will be opened and MIQ axed for Kiwis returning from Australia from the end of this month, and from the rest of the world from mid-March.

Ardern gave a speech at BusinessNZ in Tāmaki Makaurau this morning detailing the plan which comes after weeks of pressure from overseas Kiwis threatening legal action against to return home.

Vaccinated kiwis can return from Australia from February 27th, but will need to isolate at home for 10 days; those unvaccinated will still be required to quarantine. 

The Prime Minister also said barring unforeseen developments such as the emergence of new, more threatening variants, New Zealanders elsewhere around the world will be able to return home from 11.59pm on March 13.

Skilled workers earning at least 1.5x the median wage and those on working holiday visas will also be able to enter from March 13, while temporary visa holders and 5000 international students can return April 12.

Leniency for skilled workers not earning 1.5 times the media wage will also be introduced April 12.

In July anyone from Australia or countries that participate in the Visa Waiver programme can enter the country and a new Accredited Employer Work Visa will open and the skilled worker exemption will be phased out.

During her speech Ardern defended the use of MIQ saying it was easy to 'hear the word MIQ and immediately associate it with heartache' but argued it was an essential tool to protect whānau from coronavirus.

"The choice to use it undeniably saved lives ... MIQ meant not everyone could come home when they wanted to but it also meant that Covid could not come in when it wanted to, either." she said.

Ardern says all travel restrictions in and out of Aotearoa will be removed and all visa categories will be accepted by October.

"We are vaccinated, increasingly boosted, and continue to prepare ourselves at home and work with a plan - and so now it is time to move forward together, safely." she said.