New Zealand has announced that it will begin to relax its strict border controls in 2022.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced that, dependant on all citizens being fully vaccinated, a phased reopening of its borders can begin in early 2022.
Reiterating the importance of the vaccination, Arden declared that it “is the number one thing everyone can do to be protected against Covid-19, help accelerate our economic recovery, reduce the risk of lockdowns, and safely allow New Zealand’s borders to begin reopening next year".
To meet this goal, the country's national vaccination programme is being fast-tracked. “The first step in our plan is speeding up the vaccination process to ensure everyone is at least partially vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Under the new scheme, which has been recommended by the Strategic Covid-19 Public Health Advisory Group, the first phase will allow fully vaccinated visitors from low-risk countries to potentially spend less time in quarantine on arrival.
Ardern closed New Zealand’s borders early on in the pandemic, preventing all foreigners from entering and requiring all returning New Zealand residents to isolate for two weeks in a managed facility.
These measures – some of the toughest in the world – have been successful, with the small South Pacific nation managing to keep itself largely free of the virus, including the new, more contagious, Delta variant. To date, only 26 people in the country have died from the virus, and life within the nation has continued almost as normal.
In April this year, New Zealand established a travel corridor with its neighbour, Australia, to allow citizens to travel freely between the two countries. In July, however, this corridor was closed in response to rising cases in Australia.