New year changes will make it easier for Kiwis to come home

By Te Ao - Māori News

New Zealand will open its borders in three stages next year, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says. 

A three-step plan will first see fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travellers allowed to travel to New Zealand from Australia without staying in MIQ from 11:59pm on January 16.

"There will still be carefully managed processes for recent arrivals, including a mandatory seven-day self-isolation period for people who are not required to entire MIQ."

The second step is at 11:59pm on February 13, when the same people can do the same thing but from all other countries. From April 30, the third step means fully vaccinated foreign travellers will be able to enter the country, which Hipkins says will happen "in a staged way."

"We do know that the international restrictions in place around our border have been tough for many people. We are making this announcement today to give families, businesses, visitors, airlines, airports and others the time to prepare."

Travellers will still need to provide a negative pre-departure test, show proof of full vaccination, a passenger declaration on their travel history, take a day one/zero test upon arrival, the requirement to self-isolate and a negative test at the end of their isolation period.  

Hipkins also confirmed Indonesia, Fiji, India, Pakistan and Brazil would be removed from the high-risk countries list from early December. 

"Travellers from these countries will be able to enter New Zealand on the same basis as travellers from most other countries. That will allow New Zealand citizens, residence class visa holders, and other travellers eligible to come to New Zealand under our current border settings to travel directly to New Zealand."

Papua New Guinea remains on the list, Hipkins says.