Fully vaccinated Kiwis and travellers will be able to bypass New Zealand's managed isolation at the border from early next year.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has announced a three-step approach that will allow fully-vaccinated people to travel more freely in and out of New Zealand from next year.
What are the phases, when will they begin and what will be required from travellers?
From 11.59 pm Sunday, January 16 2022, fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers can travel from Australia without needing to go through MIQ. Instead, you can isolate at home for seven days.
From 11.59 pm Sunday, February 13 2022, fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers can travel to New Zealand from all other countries.
From April 30 2022 onwards, all fully vaccinated individuals can travel to New Zealand.
However, even fully vaccinated travellers will need more than a passport and a plane ticket.
In addition, travellers will require:
- A negative pre-departure test
- Proof of full vaccination status
- A declaration confirming you have not been to high-risk countries
- Seven days in self-isolation
- A final negative test before entering the community
Further information about home isolation will be announced in December.
Why a phased approach?
During the announcement, Hipkins said the steps were about easing restrictions in a safe way.
Phasing the approach was the safest way to reconnect New Zealand with the rest of the world, whilst still protecting vulnerable communities and health systems, he said.
Hipkins said the self-isolation trial for businesses had partially informed the decisions made today.
What if I am not vaccinated?
Unvaccinated travellers will need to go through MIQ for seven days then self-isolate for a further three days.
Why isn't phase one happening sooner?
For many who had hoped to cross the ditch in December, the news may be a disappointment. However, Dr Ashley Bloomfield said allowing vaccinated people into the country still posed a risk as just one traveller could start a new outbreak.
With New Zealand moving to the traffic light system on December 3 and Auckland's border opening on December 15, Bloomfield added that it was important to bed in processes around Auckland's domestic travel first.
While dates for the first two phases are 'quite solid', Hipkins said that phase three's date could be subject to change if necessary.
What about the Cook Islands?
The Cook Islands travel bubble is due to resume on 14 January 2022.
New Zealand's air links to Rarotonga will remain quarantine-free.
As the Cooks Prepare to lift quarantine requirements, Kiwis will be exempt from quarantine on return to New Zealand.
Visitors over 12 will still need to be fully vaccinated and complete a Cook Islands pre-departure form 72 hours before flying.
In the meantime, many will be crying tears of joy at finally having a few dates in sight.