New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has given a strong direction to New Zealand’s travel plans moving forward, outlining her steps for “reconnecting New Zealand with the world,” including welcoming international visitors from the first quarter of 2022.
The unfortunate side to Ms Ardern’s announcement was a confirmation of many travellers’ and families worst fears, stating that the country will be closed to international visitors until at least the end of 2021, however, it isn’t yet clear if this will apply to the Trans Tasman bubble.
“We are simply not in a position to fully reopen just yet,” said Ms Ardern.
“When we move we will be careful and deliberate, because we want to move with confidence and with as much certainty as possible.”
Ms Ardern made clear that for now the priority is vaccinating the population and added that from next year New Zealand would be moving towards a new individual risk-based model for quarantine-free travel from the start of next year.
“Once enough people are vaccinated, we will be able to start the next step in the plan: a phased introduction of an individual risk-based approach to border settings in 2022.”
“Low-Risk, Medium-Risk and High-Risk travel pathways will be created, and which pathway a traveller takes will be based on the risk associated with where they are coming from and their vaccination status.”
“Each pathway will have testing and isolation requirements proportionate to that risk.”
Those in medium-risk countries will have to self-isolate or undertake a managed quarantine and those from high-risk countries will require a full two-weeks of managed isolation.
“To prepare for the medium-risk pathway, the government will run a self-isolation pilot in the second half of this year to test processes and systems for the safe use of this tool.”
New Zealand has currently given out approximately 2.29 million vaccine doses with 848,000 residents fully vaccinated, equating to 17.3% of the population.
However, this should soon speed up with all those over 16 becoming eligible for their first dose from September onwards.
Ms Ardern is positive about the situation moving forward.
“New Zealand remains in a strong position. We don’t have COVID in the community and our economy is more open than most.”
“Our plan to reopen our borders both protects the gains we have won, while setting us up to safely reconnect New Zealanders and business with the world and seize the opportunities created by our COVID success.”