The New Zealand government has announced that it will remove managed isolation and quarantine requirements (MIQ) for fully vaccinated citizens returning to the country from 14 February 2022.
Under the new rules, all travellers exempt from MIQ will still need to self-isolate for a week and will be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival in the country, as well as a final negative test at the end of their isolation period.
They will also need a negative pre-departure test, a declaration about their travel history and proof that they are fully vaccinated.
Further details on how self-isolation will work will be shared next month.
Those who are not exempt under the incoming criteria, such as unvaccinated travellers and those travelling from high-risk countries, will still be required to adhere to the current requirements of a week in MIQ followed by three days of home isolation.
However, flag carrier airline Air New Zealand has already announced plans to require full vaccination for all travellers on its international network from 1 February.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins also confirmed that MIQ requirements for New Zealand citizens and residents returning from Australia would be lifted a month earlier, from 17 January.
The government also announced plans to begin reopening to all fully vaccinated foreign nationals from 30 April.
New Zealand continues to ease travel restrictions
The announcement confirms a new step in New Zealand’s plans to gradually ease Covid travel restrictions, both internationally and within the country itself.
The phased plans are intended to provide time to increase vaccination rates in the country, including the rollout of booster shots, as well as to manage ongoing easing of internal Covid restrictions such as the planned easing of travel restrictions into the city of Auckland on 15 December.
The government also plans to remove Fiji, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Brazil Currently Indonesia, Fiji, India, Pakistan and Brazil from its list of high-risk countries from early December.
“A phased approach to reconnecting with the world is the safest approach to ensure risk is carefully managed. This reduces any potential impacts on vulnerable communities and the New Zealand health system,” Hipkins said.
“Of course, we will eventually reach a point where people will be able to move much more freely across the border and those periods of self-isolation won’t be required,” he added. “We will keep that under constant review. We only want that self-isolation requirement in place for as long as it is justified on public health grounds.”
The government’s cautious approach reflects an uncertain reality in which some European countries have reintroduced some lockdown restrictions, and many governments worldwide have announced travel restrictions following the discovery of the new Omicron variant in southern Africa.