New Zealand becomes the international border for citizens of the country who are 17 years or older.
From that date, Kiwis will be able to fly double-thrust from Australia to New Zealand without going through the Managed Isolation and Quarantine – which has limited spaces – and can complete the quarantine at home.
The reopening of the border until after the Christmas break has thrown the vacation plans of thousands of Trans-Tasmanian families into chaos, despite calls on the New Zealand opposition to open the border earlier.
From February 14, 2022, there will be a further easing of travel restrictions, allowing New Zealand citizens from most other nations – with the exception of those considered “very high risk” – to fly into the country and avoid MIQ.
And finally, from April 30, 2022, the Ardern government will gradually open the border to all foreign nationals and international visitors.
The New Zealand government will allow fully vaccinated New Zealand residents to enter the country without hotel quarantine from January 17 (pictured: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern)
On Wednesday, Jacinda Ardern’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed the opening dates and additional passengers would still need a negative pre-departure test, vaccination certificate and travel history explanation.
“This is about opening the borders in a progressive and safe way,” he said.
Currently, overseas New Zealanders must win a spot in a quarantine lottery – with limited spots – and spend 10 days in isolation before entering the community.
This has sparked many fears, locking many out of their own country and thousands of separated families.
“When it comes to COVID-19, there are often no easy decisions. We were often faced with the task of making the worst possible decision … the limit is clearly an example of that, ”he said.
Around 20,000 people have been affected by canceled Air New Zealand flights through January, with the airline offering refunds (pictured: Sydney Airport in November).
The announcement creates clarity for those looking to return to or visit New Zealand after Air New Zealand canceled 1,000 flights this week due to “ongoing uncertainty” about the border closure.
The airline canceled almost all flights to and from Australia by December 31st.
At least 20,000 travelers have booked tickets for the flights and everyone expects the countries to be reopened to each other before Christmas.
The move followed a recent statement by Jacinda Ardern’s government that they were unlikely to lift tough travel restrictions before the New Year, which threw travel plans for families and vacationers alike into chaos.
Air New Zealand’s chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said the airline had no choice but to cancel flights – dashing long-awaited reunion plans for thousands.
“This will be particularly difficult news for families and friends who were hoping to catch up over Christmas,” Ms. Geraghty said.
“I appreciate how difficult this news will be, but our hands are tied until the border restrictions ease and we can get further clarification from the New Zealand government.”
Affected customers should have their tickets reimbursed or the flight price credited to the airline.
New Zealand’s travel ban has been in place since July after Jacina Ardern slammed the borders for Australians
On Tuesday, New Zealand opposition leader Judith Collins said kiwis are fed up with moving to Australia because their own government is handling the lockdown and border rules.
She claims New Zealand is risking its international reputation by demanding that its borders reopen by 2022, when it should allow fully vaccinated, COVID-negative travelers to move freely.
“There has to be an opening of the trans-Tasman bubble,” said Collins on Tuesday in Wellington.
“We have to stop this fortress mentality that we have and we have to reconnect to the world in a safe way.”
New Zealand’s management of a delta outbreak that arrived from NSW in August continues to dominate Kiwi politics.
Since September, the Auckland government has been shielding to cope with the number of cases.
Now Jacinda Ardern’s government is prioritizing dismantling this internal border rather than reopening international borders, pointing to the “cumulative risk” of too many changes at once.
Plans for a vacation get-together for thousands of Australians and New Zealanders with their families across Tasman were thwarted by refusal to lift travel bans despite high vaccination rates (pictured: Sydney Airport in November).
From December 3, the strict restrictions within the country will be relaxed and companies will be able to operate in the largest city of Auckland.
A new traffic light system evaluates regions as red, orange or green depending on Covid exposure and vaccination rates.
Auckland, the epicenter of the Delta outbreak, will start in red, make face masks mandatory and restrict gatherings in public places.
Ms. Ardern said that around 83% of eligible New Zealanders are fully vaccinated while 88% received their first vaccination.
The government previously announced that the country would lift lockdowns and move to the traffic light system to deal with outbreaks after 90% of the eligible population were fully vaccinated.
Mrs Ardern and Mr Hipkins speaking to reporters in Wellington last week (pictured)