New Zealand’s intentions to reopen its borders and enable foreigners to enter the country next year have been revealed. Visitors who are fully vaccinated can enter starting on April 30 and will be required to self-isolate for seven days upon arrival. From early next year, more New Zealanders will be able to go home under the same conditions. The action relaxes tight restrictions that have kept many citizens and visitors out since the Covid epidemic began when borders were slammed shut. Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins detailed the planned staged reopening, saying it “the safest approach to ensure risk is carefully managed”.

Fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents who are currently in Australia will be able to return from January 16 onwards in the first phase of the reopening. New Zealanders who are currently residing in any other country will be able to enter on February 13. From April 30, foreign visitors will be the final group to be allowed entry into the country. All tourists must be fully vaccinated, self-isolate for seven days, and have their Covid levels tested upon arrival. “This (phased approach) reduces any potential impacts on vulnerable communities and the New Zealand health system,” Mr. Hipkins said. Only New Zealand nationals and permanent residents are currently permitted to enter the country, and they must stay in government-run quarantine motels for seven days. The rules have effectively kept away many New Zealanders who seek to return because these have restricted spaces.