New Zealand Unveils Plan For Reopening of Tourism Starting on February 27

New Zealand Unveils Plan For Reopening of Tourism Starting on February 27

New Zealand has laid out a five-step strategy to allow fully vaccinated travelers into the country from February-end. Self-isolation is required but hotel quarantine has been lifted. 

Fully vaccinated New Zealanders stranded in Australia will be the first group of people allowed to return from Feb. 27. 

Inbound passengers will still have to self-isolate for 10 days but can do so at home. The change in rules comes in response to mounting criticism of Wellington’s controversial closed-border strategy to keep the coronavirus out.

As of today, New Zealanders must wait in line for a spot at one of the few hotel-quarantine facilities, which is not always easy to obtain.

The Prime Minister decided to maintain this sort of “light” quarantine because it is “highly likely that they’ll come in contact with the highly transmissible Omicron variant on their journey.”

It is likely to reduce to seven days once the number of COVID cases in New Zealand rises and the “close-contact” isolation rules change.

“As the isolation period drops for close contacts here in New Zealand, as it does in phase two of our Omicron response, so too will returnees only need to isolate for seven days,” she added.

Passengers should expect a painfully slow reopening process in the upcoming months. But, as they say, something is better than nothing.

Step 1 – Double-vaccinated New Zealanders can return home from Australia from Feb. 27.

Step 2 – Fully vaccinated people from all other nations can begin entering New Zealand on Mar. 13. This particularly applies to skilled and critical international workers.

Step 3 – Up to 5,000 international students are allowed into the country from Apr. 12. The rest will not be admitted until October, effectively ruling out campus-based studies before 2023

Step 4 – Australians and all other visitors who can normally travel visa-free to New Zealand are expected to be able to travel to the country by July.

Step 5 – All other visitors and students who normally require a visa would be permitted to return by October.

“Opening back up in this managed way balances inflows of travelers so people can reunite and fill our workforce shortages, while also ensuring our healthcare system can manage an increase in cases,” Primer Minister Ardern said in a speech in Auckland on Thursday.

There was “life before” the virus but “there will be life after Covid too,” she added.

New Zealand has a history of announcing border reopenings just to close them back a few weeks later. Let’s see how things go this time.