Coronavirus: New Zealand begins to reopen its borders to the world from January
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – New Zealand will reopen its borders to the world in the coming months, the government announced Wednesday, allowing the return of residents who have been displaced since January and tourists. from April.
The South Pacific country imposed harsh border restrictions when the pandemic began, effectively banning travelers and requiring returning residents to spend two weeks in a quarantine hotel run by the military. executive team.
Sometimes, demand for isolation beds has outstripped supply, causing some displaced residents to wait months for space.
During the first 18 months of the pandemic, border measures were seen as crucial in keeping New Zealand free of the virus.
But the outbreak in August proved unquenchable, prompting New Zealand to abandon its elimination strategy in October. Vaccination rates are also rising, making border measures increasingly difficult to justify.
Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins said the government had to make tough trade-offs to keep New Zealanders as safe as possible during the pandemic.
“We admit it’s been very difficult. Families have been torn apart. People find themselves sheltering in places they don’t expect to stay for long,” Hipkins said. “We are acutely aware of the impact these restrictions have had on individuals’ lives and their livelihoods.”
Under the government’s plan, all incoming travelers will still be required to self-isolate for seven days, at least for now.
Hipkins said it wants to minimize the risk of the virus posed by incoming travelers by reopening borders in phases.
Fully vaccinated New Zealanders will be able to return from Australia without quarantine from 16 January and from other countries after 13 February. Then the door will open accordingly. phased out for tourists and other visitors as of April 30.
New Zealand is also removing the very high risk designation for several countries including Indonesia, India and Brazil, allowing people from those countries to return or visit.
Earlier this week, New Zealand announced that bars, restaurants and gyms could reopen in Auckland from December 2, erasing the last vestiges of a lockdown that began in Auckland. the nation’s largest city in August.
It also heralds a new phase in New Zealand’s response to the pandemic, in which people across the country will need to be fully vaccinated to be able to partake in anything from haircuts to watching. a concert.
About 69% of New Zealanders are fully immunized, including 84% of people 12 years of age and older. New Zealand has reported just 40 coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began.