New Zealand recently announced that it will be requiring international travellers to be fully vaccinated to travel to New Zealand. That, however, doesn’t mean international students can pack their bags and travel to the country just yet. According to the Australian Associated Press, via The Examiner, New Zealand could see a relaxation of international border rules by Christmas.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government is preparing to allow Kiwis with COVID-19 to stay at home or isolate at community facilities if they do not need hospital-level care, said the report. A predicted surge of COVID-19 cases prompted the changes.
Ardern could loosen the compulsory 14-day stay in a quarantine hotel, also known as the Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ), on arrival. “We are actively considering our MIQ settings in light of the fact that we are unlikely to get back to zero cases,” COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins was quoted saying. “You can expect to see us talking more about that fairly soon.”
International travel has been on hold since July, when New Zealand suspended the trans-Tasman bubble due to an uptick in cases in New South Wales and Victoria. New Zealand’s government has no plans to reopen the bubble despite several COVID-free regions in both countries, including Wellington and the South Island.
New Zealand was previously mulling a traffic light system for arrivals in early 2022 based on travellers’ risk profiles. It is unclear if the government plans to continue with the plan, said the report.
Travellers must be fully vaccinated to travel to New Zealand
From November 1, non-citizens who plan to travel to New Zealand will have to be fully vaccinated. “Getting vaccinated is the most effective measure against the transmission of COVID-19, and the risk of serious illness or death,” said Hipkins in a statement earlier this month.
“To further reduce the possibility of the virus getting through our border, we are introducing the requirement for air travellers aged 17 and over, who are not New Zealand citizens, to be fully vaccinated to enter New Zealand. This is an important step in our Reconnecting New Zealand strategy.” Currently, non-citizens can only travel to New Zealand if they have “a critical purpose to travel.”
Travellers will be required to declare their vaccination status when registering with the Managed Isolation Allocation System, and present proof of vaccination or a relevant exemption to their airline and to customs officers upon landing.
Hipkins said most people coming to New Zealand are already vaccinated, but the vaccine mandate “makes it formal and will provide an extra layer of protection at the border.” He added that Air New Zealand passengers must be fully vaccinated from February 2022.
Those who travel to New Zealand will still be required to complete 14 days of quarantine, and all travellers except those from exempt locations will still need to have evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result from an accredited laboratory within 72 hours of their first scheduled international flight.
“This requirement will be an interim measure while development continues on the traveller health declaration system, which will introduce the ability to digitally verify the vaccination status of people arriving into New Zealand,” said Hipkins.