When Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced plans to allow fully vaccinated Kiwis to travel next year, many of us responded with tears of joy.
Questions quickly followed as we wondered about the details. Where can we self-isolate and how do we get there from the airport? Who can we see during self-isolation and can we order Urbereats?
Here is what we know so far about what self-isolation will look like for travel early next year.
Who is self-isolation an option for?
From January 17 2022, fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents returning from Australia can skip managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) and instead self-isolate.
To do this, they will need a negative pre-departure test, proof of full vaccination, declaration of travel history and a final negative test after the seven days of isolation.
Where can I self-isolate?
Until exact requirements are released, the Ministry of Health's current self-isolation regulations does give us an idea.
According to the existing advice, you can stay anywhere in the country that has:
-Access to a GP or Covid-19 testing centre
-Cell phone coverage, a landline or wi-fi
-Contactless access to food and other supplies
The ideal place to stay is in a standalone private residence, however, apartments and sole-occupancy rentals like hotels, motels or Airbnbs are also acceptable. If staying here you must let them know you are self-isolating.
Meanwhile, shared accommodation like hostels or boarding houses is off the cards.
How do I get there?
The government will release more details about travel between airports and locations of self-isolation in December.
Currently, those travelling from MIQ to self-isolation can take any form of transport if they wear masks and are encouraged to take the most direct route without stopping.
Can I see people when I self-isolate?
The good news is that returning travellers will be allowed to see people. The catch? You can only see whoever you're staying with.
If you self-isolate in your own home or flat, the only people allowed in the house during that period are the people you usually live with - your whānau or flatmates. Any flat parties or gatherings will have to wait.
Similarly, if you isolate with your parents in a family home, the only people allowed in will be you and whoever lives there; visitors like aunts, uncles, siblings or friends will have to stay away until isolation is over.
However, any occupants not self-isolating will be able to leave to go to work and school as per usual.
Can I leave self-isolation?
Barring an emergency, the Ministry of Health states that you cannot leave your place of self-isolation other than to get a Covid-19 test.
Hipkins seconded this and said they expected people to stay in their bubbles for the seven day isolation period.
Will self-isolation only last 7 days?
Yes, but this is contingent on returning a negative Covid-19 test on your final day.
Those staying in rental or temporary accommodation will need to ensure they could stay longer.
What protocols should I follow if I self-isolate in a house with other people?
If you choose to self-isolate with people you have not travelled with, such as family or flatmates, the Ministry of Health has recommendations for reducing risk.
-Staying in separate beds or bedrooms,
-Wearing a face mask in communal areas
-Maintaining a two-metre distance
-Keeping shared spaces well ventilated
-Sanitising shared spaces like bathrooms and kitchens after use
Is there anyone I shouldn't self-isolate with?
But it's worth avoiding staying with people who are more vulnerable to Covid-19 such as children, the elderly and those who are immunocompromised.
Can I get deliveries?
You can order items to your place of self-isolation but only if they can be paid and delivered outside in a contactless way.
Will fully vaccinated travellers always need to self-isolate?
As with many things concerning the pandemic, no one can be absolutely certain what the future of self-isolation will look like. However, Hipkins said it would be "under constant review" as they navigate the tricky balance between travel restrictions and public health.
Is there anywhere I can travel without needing to self-isolate?
If you are fully vaccinated, you will be able to travel all around Aotearoa this summer from December 15, when Auckland's border lowers.
For those wishing to head a little further away, the Cook Islands travel bubble will resume on January 14 2022. This makes it the only country Kiwis can visit without any quarantine or self-isolation at either end of their trip. Find out more information on the bubble here.
Read a full explainer on the recent travel announcements here.