New Zealand, a country known for their beautiful landscapes and extreme outdoor activities is one of the latest countries to alter their reopening plans due to the rapid rise of the new variant of Covid-19, Omicron.
New Zealand Reopening Delays
New Zealand, a country that closed their borders to international travel in March of 2020, had been due to open WITHOUT a quarantine on January 17th 2022 exclusively for New Zealand citizens and visa holders coming from Australia. This was to be the first part of a three phase reopening system which was announced on November 24th of this year – coming only months after the Australia and New Zealand travel bubble program had been suspended.
Now, due to the spread of the Omicron variant, New Zealand has changed their rules once again for their own citizens — pushing a quarantine free opening to at least the end of February 2022. This change, which is to begin on December 24th, is likely to be a disappointing blow to its citizens who have waited nearly two years to possibly travel abroad to see loved ones and friends and return home quarantine free.
That is not the only change though, up until recently New Zealand citizens who were returning to their home country were required to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test 72 hours before their flight, with a stay in MIQ (Managed isolation or quarantine) for seven days followed by a three day at home quarantine. But the recent changes this week have altered this as well. With these new rules implemented, returning Kiwis will now have to acquire a pre-departure Covid-19 test within 48 hours before departure and then stay in MIQ for a mandatory TEN day stay — entirely at an assigned hotel.
New Zealand Compared to the Rest of the World
As the rest of the world struggles with the ever spreading variant, New Zealand Covid-19 cases on the other hand have been on a downward trend — due mainly to the tight restrictions the country has kept throughout the pandemic. As of now, there have only been twenty-two cases of Omicron detected so far in the country, with all those cases coming from travelers in MIQ — which means there has been no community spread of this variant so far.
New Zealand is hoping by pushing back their reopening date, more of their population will be able to receive both of the vaccinations within this timeframe. As of December 16th, 90% of all eligible citizens over the age of twelve have received both doses of the vaccine.
The New Zealand government has made no mention of whether or not the next two phases of their plan will be pushed back, but given the way that they’ve been extremely cautious up to this point, further changes should be expected. Phase two was to begin on February 14th, which was said to allow all vaccinated travelers to enter the country, except those that are traveling from a high risk country.
Surprisingly, as of right now, the government has not actually compiled a list of very high risk countries. Phase three was set to begin on April 30th, which would have opened the border for all vaccinated tourists from anywhere around the globe regardless of risk.
The New Zealand government hopes to revisit the topic in February and assess the situation more at that time.
According to the government’s official Covid-19 page, “By the end of February 2022 when we revisit the phased border re-opening, around three million more Kiwis will be eligible for the booster shots and the rollout to 5 – 11 year-olds will be well underway”.
With any luck, we can all be catching flights to Auckland to go bungee jumping off bridges and white water rafting by summer 2022 (or winter if you’re down under!)
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories