New Zealand Drops Vaccine And Testing Requirements For International Travelers

New Zealand has lifted all COVID-19-related travel restrictions and testing requirements, the government has announced.

Starting September 13, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern eliminated all vaccine requirements, as well as the requirement to self-test after arrival. Testing will be “encouraged” but not compulsory from now on.

“It’s time to safely turn the page on our COVID-19 management, and live without the extraordinary measures we have previously used,” Ardern said in a statement. “Today marks a milestone in our response. Finally, rather than feeling that COVID dictates what happens to us, our lives, and our futures, we take back control.”

In the past, New Zealand required visitors to produce proof of vaccination and test immediately upon arrival and again on days 5 and 6 and report the results. 

According to the government, the country will continue to offer free rapid antigen testing for arriving travelers at the airport.

With the exception of healthcare contexts, New Zealand has also lifted mask-wearing regulations, though individual facilities may continue to enforce their own mask restrictions.

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For its part, Air New Zealand has told reporters that it will relax mask regulations on international and domestic flights. The airline will continue to make masks available to customers who request them.

“Masks have played an important part in keeping customers, crew and communities safe during the Covid pandemic, but it’s time to say farewell,” Air New Zealand’s Chief Customer and Sales Leanne Geraghty said in a statement provided to News Outlets. 

“While some customers and employees will welcome this news, it doesn’t mean masks are disappearing forever. We really encourage customers to continue to do what makes them comfortable, which is the same message we’re sharing with our employees.”

According to government data, New Zealand has vaccinated 90% of people 12 years of age and older with at least two doses of the Covid 19 vaccine.

New Zealand reopened to vaccinated tourists in May this year before relaxing pre-entry testing requirements for vaccinated travelers in June and easing restrictions on cruise ships in August.