New Zealand to Start 5-Stage Reopening Plan This February

The Prime Minister of New Zealand has announced the re-opening of borders to visitors in five stages, starting at the end of February, after its earlier plans to do so were haltered by Omicron. 

“With Omicron’s arrival, we pushed that change in border settings out – to give ourselves the chance to roll out boosters – a chance most other countries never had,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a speech on Thursday.

“With our community better protected we must turn to the importance of reconnection. Families and friends need to reunite. Our businesses need skills to grow. Exporters need to travel to make new connections,” Ardern added.

Under the five-step plan, vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents traveling from Australia would be the first group to be allowed in, followed by vaccinated citizens and visa holders coming from the rest of the world, and then all other vaccinated visitors. 

According to the plan, the country’s expensive isolation facilities (MIQ) would not be needed as travelers could self-isolate at home for ten days.

However, unvaccinated travelers and those who do not meet New Zealand’s vaccination requirements but are eligible to enter New Zealand would continue to enter MIQ.

Ardern said the two-week gap would enable public health systems to adjust for the likelihood of more cases in the community and allow the border systems to “keep scaling up in the safest way possible”.

New Zealand has been closed for nearly two years, apart from a short-lived travel bubble with Australia.

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