New Zealand is reopening its borders sooner than originally planned as the government looks to learn to live with COVID-19 and accelerate the country’s economic recovery from the devastating effects that the pandemic has had on its tourism industry.
At just before midnight on Tuesday, 12th April, Australians will be allowed to travel to New Zealand without needing to quarantine and then just two and a half weeks later, vaccinated travellers from visa-waiver countries will be allowed to enter New Zealand.
Travellers from countries including the United Kingdom, United States, Japan, Germany, South Korea and Singapore will be eligible to enter New Zealand before the borders are reopened to all international arrivals later this year.
New Zealand had largely managed to keep COVID-19 at bay by closing its borders two years ago but the Delta variant and Omicron variants broke through the country’s defences and forced a rethink as to how New Zealand would manage the pandemic.
“Closing our border was one of the first actions we took to stop COVID-19 two years ago. It did the job we needed,” the New Zealand government said on Wednesday. “But now that we are highly vaccinated and predicted to be off our Omicron peak, it is now safe to open up.”
The first part of the border reopening plan for Australian citizens has been timed to coincide with the school holidays. Prior to the pandemic, trans-Tasman travel accounted for around 40 per cent of all international arrivals to New Zealand.
“While we know it will take some time to see tourism scale up again, today’s announcement will be a welcome boost for our tourism operators who have done it harder than many over the last two years.”
Tourists will be required to take a pre-departure test and then two rapid antigen tests within the first six days of arriving in New Zealand. The government had originally planned to make tourists self-isolate on arrival for as long as 10-days.
The government is yet to announce when tourists from non-visa waiver countries might be allowed to come to New Zealand. The original plan wasn’t to reopen the border to these travellers until October but this might alos now be brought forward.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.