New Zealand unveils plan to reopen tourism from 27 February

New Zealand has established a five-step strategy to allow fully vaccinated travelers in the country from the end of February. Self-isolation is required, but the hotel’s quarantine has been lifted.

New Zealanders fully vaccinated and held in Australia will be the first group of people allowed to return from 27 February.

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

Starting 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 keep this type of quarantine “light” because it is “highly likely that they will come into contact with the highly transmissible Omicron variant on their journey”.

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

“As the isolation period shortens for close contacts here in New Zealand, as with phase two of our Omicron response, returnees will also need to self-isolate for seven days,” he added.

Passengers should expect painfully slow speed reopening process In the next months. But, as they say, something is better than nothing.

Step 1 – Twice-vaccinated New Zealanders can return home from Australia from 27 February.

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

Step 3 – Up to 5,000 international students are allowed into the country as of April 12. The rest will not be admitted until October, effectively ruling out on-campus 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 need a visa will be able to return in October.

“Opening up in this managed way balances traveler flows so people can come together and fill our workforce shortages, while ensuring that our healthcare system can manage an increase in cases,” said the prime minister. Minister Ardern in a speech in Auckland on Thursday.

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

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

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