Home / World News / Latest on Covid Tests, Vaccines and the Omicron Variant: Live Updates

Latest on Covid Tests, Vaccines and the Omicron Variant: Live Updates

Video

transcript

transcript

New Zealand Announces Plan to Reopen Its Borders

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country would begin to ease strict border controls and quarantine rules for citizens and travelers who have received at least two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Today I’m announcing that the fully vaccinated Kiwis and other currently eligible travelers from Australia will be able to travel to New Zealand from 11:59 p.m. Sunday 27 February. And instead of going into MIQ, will be able to self-isolate. In step two, just two weeks later, fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other currently eligible travelers from the rest of the world will also be able to travel into New Zealand without going through MIQ. While we will no longer require people to enter managed isolation, at this stage travelers will be asked to follow broadly the same requirements we have in New Zealand for people who are deemed close contacts at the time of their travel. That means currently returning New Zealanders will need to self-isolate for 10 days. But as the isolation period drops for close contacts here in New Zealand, as it does in Phase 2 of our Omicron response, so too will returnees only need to isolate for seven days.

Video player loading
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country would begin to ease strict border controls and quarantine rules for citizens and travelers who have received at least two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.CreditCredit…Hannah Peters/Getty Images

New Zealand will ease the strict border controls and quarantine rules it has maintained during the pandemic under a five-stage plan announced by the prime minister on Thursday, gradually reopening to travelers from abroad over the next nine months.

New Zealanders in Australia will be able to return home beginning at the end of February without spending time in hotel quarantine, the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said at a news conference to announce the changes to the border policy.

“Families and friends need to reunite,” she said. “Our businesses need skills to grow. Exporters need to travel to make new connections. It’s time to move again.”

Starting just before midnight on Feb. 27, New Zealanders and other eligible travelers who have received at least two doses of a vaccine against Covid-19 will be able to travel home from Australia. On March 13, the border will reopen to vaccinated citizens arriving from elsewhere in the world.

Vaccinated New Zealanders will still be required to isolate at home, with the length of their isolation determined by the country’s “close contact” policy at the time of their arrival. New Zealanders who are not vaccinated must still spend time in quarantine, and the government is evaluating facilities designed for that purpose.

Noncitizens will also be able to return in phases starting in March, beginning with essential workers and skilled workers earning at least 1.5 times the median wage, as well as the family members of high-skilled workers already in the country. In April, the border will reopen to up to 5,000 international students and temporary visa holders.

Then in July, Australians and all other travelers who can normally enter the country without a visa, including tourists from the European Union and the United States, will be able to come to New Zealand. Finally, travelers who require a visa will be allowed to enter the country in October, Ms. Ardern said.

Ms. Ardern said the July date for letting in travelers with visas was “the latest we expect this to begin.”

“There is a high likelihood of this date coming forward as we progress through the next stage of the pandemic,” she said.

New Zealand closed its borders in March 2020, imposing a strict hotel quarantine requirement for citizens. After October 2020, however, it began to limit the number of people who could enter the country’s hotel quarantine, creating intense bottlenecks among the throngs of New Zealanders desperate to return home.

A staged plan to reopen was outlined late last year, but was deferred after the more contagious Omicron variant caused cases to soar around the world.

The country’s border policies were in the global spotlight this week after Charlotte Bellis, a former journalist for Al-Jazeera based in Kabul, Afghanistan, spoke publicly about her difficulty securing a spot in New Zealand’s hotel quarantine in order to return to the country to give birth. The government currently faces legal challenges to its border policies from a group of expatriate New Zealanders called Grounded Kiwis.

At the news conference, Ms. Ardern defended the hotel quarantine system, known as MIQ, even as she acknowledged that the closures had been difficult for many people. “The anguish of MIQ has been real, and heartbreaking. But the choice to use it undeniably saved lives,” she said.

About brandsauthority

Check Also

Buy buy residence: The Perth houses for sale worth checking out in Swanbourne, Mount Lawley and Palmyra

6 James Road, Swanbourne Price Guide: Around $6 million Agent: Justin Davies, Space Real Estate …

%d bloggers like this: