After weeks of watching other countries react and respond to Omicron, it seems the time has finally come for New Zealand to bolster our defences.
First on the list of tactics: pushing out changes to our border rules until the end of February.
The Government has announced several changes to help prepare the country for the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Many of the changes, announced today by Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, relate to 2022 travel rules for early next year.
Reopening plan delayed
With New South Wales now expecting to record 25,000 cases a day by end of January, Hipkins said the mid-January border opening was now too high risk.
The three-phase reopening plan will be pushed out to the end of February.
Initially, Phase 1 was planned to take effect on January 16. This stage would allow fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers to travel from Australia and self-isolate at home for seven days instead of going through MIQ.
Phase 2, would have allowed fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers from all other countries to travel to New Zealand with self-isolation instead of MIQ. This stage was planned for February 13.
The delay is to provide the opportunity for more Kiwis to receive a booster dose of the Covid vaccination - three doses provide better protection against Omicron.
Hipkins also announced that from January, the interval between the second vaccine dose and the booster shot will also be reduced from 6 months to 4 months. This means more than 82 per cent of vaccinated New Zealanders will eligible for a booster by the end of February 2022.
Pre-Departure Test window reduced
Those entering New Zealand will now have to provide a negative pre-departure test 48 hours before travelling, instead of the previously accepted 72-hour window.
Temporary change to MIQ
Currently, MIQ is seven days followed by 3 days at home. This will change to 10 days with a negative test required on day 9 before release. Travellers will not be able to spend any of their quarantine time at home.
Crackdown on international flight cases
If an international flight passenger tests positive, all fellow passengers will be treated as close contacts, rather than just those sitting close to them.
Will travel to the Cook Islands be affected?
Those planning a tropical trip can sigh in relief - the announcement does not affect the planned resumption of the Cook Islands bubble. Quarantine- and isolation-free travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands will still resume on January 14.
Very High-Risk list revised
All countries will be removed from the Very High-Risk country list.
Currently, this list includes countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi and Papua New Guinea.