New Zealand to start easing border restrictions

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More than a year after first closing its borders, New Zealand has finally announced that it would start easing border restrictions.

The first stage starts on 14 November. The second stage kicks off in the first quarter of 2022.

The easing of the restrictions will still apply to all but New Zealand citizens and residents, though, with only a few exceptions.

Don’t be discouraged by this! The fact that New Zealand is making these changes is a positive sign and a step in the right direction.

Stage 1: Shorter stays in managed isolation quarantine facilities

From 14 November, the managed isolation quarantine (MIQ) period for international arrivals into New Zealand will reduce from 14 days to 7 days, followed by isolation at home for around three days.

The Minister for COVID-19 response, Chris Hipkins, said, “MIQ has served us well. Over 183,000 New Zealanders have returned home through MIQ since border restrictions were put in place last year, stopping cases at the border and allowing us to live life free of restrictions for the better part of 18 months.”

He added, “When MIQ was introduced, we didn’t have the vaccine, so every arrival posed a high level of risk. With most people returning now fully vaccinated, the risk profile of international arrivals has changed, so it’s time to start changing our MIQ settings.”

Rigorous COVID testing in MIQ and while in at-home isolation

All international arrivals will get tested for COVID on day 0/1, day 3, and day 6/7 of their stay in MIQ.

On day 7, people will get a rapid antigen test and undergo health checks before leaving MIQ to isolate further at home.

The final test, a PCR test, happens on day nine. and people will have to stay at home until the test results come back.

Stage 2: Home isolation for vaccinated overseas arrivals in the first quarter of 2022

In the first quarter of 2022, New Zealand will start allowing fully vaccinated international arrivals to self-isolate at home instead of in MIQ.

Minister Hipkins said, “…our priority at this stage is to safely transition to the traffic light system first and bed that in before adding the additional risk of international arrivals immediately before entering the community. When the COVID-19 Protection Framework is bedded in, 90 per cent of eligible New Zealanders will be fully vaccinated, so we will have a higher level of confidence than we do right now of allowing international arrivals to go straight into the community.”

More details to follow in November

New Zealand will start updating fees, exemption, and exception frameworks and isolate at-home guidelines at the start of November. Keep an eye on for all the details.

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