Most foreign travelers who are fully vaccinated will need to wait five more months before they can enter New Zealand, according to the country’s border reopening announcement.

New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has outlined the country’s latest border reopening plan on November 24, 2021. 

Hipkins has outlined a staged reopening of international borders, with foreign travellers who are fully vaccinated against COVID able to enter the country from April 30, 2021, two years since the country closed its borders in March 2020.

“Closing our border was one of the first steps we took to keep our country safe from COVID-19 and it’ll be the last thing we open up, following our transition into the traffic light protection framework system and lifting of the Auckland boundary,” Chris Hipkins said in a statement.

“We have a clear, simple and safe plan, including a mandatory period of self-isolation. The border will open in three steps and all travellers not required to go into Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) will still require:

  • a negative pre-departure test

  • proof of being fully vaccinated

  • a passenger declaration about travel history

  • a day 0/1 test on arrival

  • a requirement to self-isolate for seven days, and

  • a final negative test before entering the community

Fully vaccinated citizens, residents and tourists will be allowed to enter the country in three phases.

  • Step 1 – opening to fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and those residence-class visa holders and other travellers eligible under our current settings from Australia from 11.59 pm local time on January 16, 2022 (provided they have been in Australia or New Zealand for the past 14 days)

  • Step 2 – opening to fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and those residence-class visa holders and other travellers eligible under our current border settings, from all but Very High-Risk countries, from 11.59pm local time Sunday February 13, 2022.

  • Step 3 – opening to fully vaccinated foreign nationals (possibly staged by visa category), from April 30, 2022 onwards

“Some people and businesses want us to start to open up before Christmas, and that’s understandable, but others want us to be more cautious. We acknowledge it’s been tough but the end of heavily restricted travel is now in sight,” Hipkins said.

“A phased approach to reconnecting with the world is the safest approach to ensure risk is carefully managed. This reduces any potential impacts on vulnerable communities and the New Zealand health system.”

Hipkins said New Zealand's international border remained the biggest risk to introducing COVID cases into the country.

The country has recorded more than 10,600 cases and just 40 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

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