New Zealand will accelerate the reopening of the COVID-19 border
New Zealand will accelerate the reopening of the COVID-19 border

New Zealand will accelerate the reopening of the COVID-19 border

SYDNEY – New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said her country will soon reopen its borders to tourists as it eases its COVID-19 restrictions and makes plans to allow international travelers after more than two years of border closures.

The prime minister issued the statement on Wednesday, saying vaccinated tourists from nearby Australia could enter New Zealand from April 12, followed by vaccinated visitors from visa-exempt countries such as the UK, Canada, Germany and the United States from May 2. None of the tourists will be required to enter into a mandatory coronavirus quarantine period upon arrival in New Zealand.

Ardern said it’s time to reconnect with the rest of the world. “We have now received guidance that it is safe to speed up the next phase of border reopening work significantly to welcome our tourists back,” she said.

“In doing so, we are sending a very clear message that we are accelerating our economic recovery. “Closing our border was one of the first steps we took to stop COVID-19 over two years ago, and reopening it will spur our economic recovery for the rest of the year.”

In addition to presenting evidence of vaccination, foreign tourists must also test negative for COVID-19 before leaving their home country and again before traveling.

Australians will be allowed to travel to New Zealand without having to be quarantined or isolated from 13 April.

FILE – A sign painted near the runway at Wellington International Airport greets travelers returning to Wellington, New Zealand, on April 19, 2021. The sign reads “Welcome Whanau,” in other words, a native Maori word meaning family. (AP Photo / Nick Perry)

Most international travelers have been excluded from New Zealand since March 2020. Border closures and strict barriers were at the heart of a COVID elimination strategy that worked in the beginning. However, New Zealand’s defense was eventually overwhelmed by the delta and omicron variants.

Daily case numbers are now over 20,000. Just a few weeks ago, they were under 1,000. Still, the government says it is able to put forward its plans to reopen the borders by several weeks due to New Zealand’s “strong health response” to COVID-19, including high vaccination rates. It has only registered about 115 deaths during the pandemic, according to official figures.

In February, New Zealand said international tourists would be able to return from July, but said that date would likely be advanced.

New Zealand travel industry officials have welcomed the accelerated reopening of borders.

Government figures have shown that tourism generated more than 5% of the country’s national income, or GDP, before the pandemic, and employed 8% of the labor force.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.

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