New Zealand on Thursday said it would begin easing Covid-19 restrictions that have been in place on its national borders since March 2020.
Chris Hipkins, minister in charge of New Zealand’s Covid-19 response, said that from November, travelers from Pacific countries such as Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu will no longer need to quarantine on arrival. The 14-day hotel quarantine period will be shortened to seven days for fully vaccinated travelers from abroad, with a plan to move to a system of home isolation for fully vaccinated arrivals later in 2022. “It’s time we reopened to the world. We can’t remain shut behind the walls of Fortress New Zealand,” Hipkins said at a news conference.
Data from Johns Hopkins University show that the country reported 96 new cases and no deaths on Thursday. New Zealand was an early adopter of strict border restrictions in response to the pandemic, closing off leisure traffic to one of the most desirable destinations in the world. It tried a “travel bubble” with big neighbor Australia but suspended that in July as the Delta variant spread.
Even with this announced easing, New Zealand is planning on strong efforts keep Covid-19 in check. All foreign nationals entering New Zealand will need to be fully vaccinated starting November 1. Air New Zealand, the country’s flag carrier airline, has said passengers on its international flights will need to be fully vaccinated. It will start implementing the policy on February 1, 2022.