The New Zealand government announced a phased approach to reopening its border on 24 November last year.
On the same day, South Africa reported Omicron, a new COVID-19 variant, to the World Health Organisation.
It wasn’t long before other countries around the world started to report their first cases of Omicron. As a result, New Zealand decided to change its reopening plan.
Phased reopening plan pushed out to the end of February 2022
On 21 December last year, Immigration New Zealand announced that it’ll push out the reopening of its borders until the end of February 2022.
Immigration New Zealand’s statement said the following:
There is no doubt this is disappointing and will upset many holiday plans, but it is important to set these changes out clearly today so they can have time to consider those plans.
COVID-19 keeps throwing new curveballs, and we have to respond in a way that continues to protect lives and livelihoods without putting in place restrictions and lockdowns unless absolutely necessary.
Waiting till the end of February 2022 will increase New Zealand’s overall protection and slow Omicron’s eventual spread.
The reopening was planned for 16 January originally
New Zealand’s initial plan was to kick off with the first phase of its border plan on 16 January of this year.
In this phase, New Zealand will allow travel from Australia for:
- fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens,
- residence-class visa holders, and
- other travellers eligible under its current border settings.
Travellers won’t have to spend time in Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ).
The second and third phases were planned for 13 February and 30 April, respectively.
The second phase will allow travel from all other countries around the world, except Very High-Risk countries, for the same group of people as in the first phase.
The third and last phase will see New Zealand allowing travel to the country for all fully vaccinated travellers from around the globe.
As with the first phase, eligible travellers from the second and third phases won’t have to stay in MIQ.
No announcement on a new date yet
New Zealand has not yet made any further announcements regarding the border reopening. We suspect that New Zealand may release an update in the next week or two, as we near the end of February.
Hopefully, the border reopening does start at the end of the month! New Zealand has been good at containing the spread of Omicron so far.