New Zealand has announced that it will remain closed to foreign travellers for another five months.
This comes as the nation slowly eases some of the world’s toughest pandemic border restrictions.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said New Zealanders who were stranded in Australia could return home from mid-January, however, travel from other countries will not be permitted until a month later.
Foreign nationals will have to wait until the end of April under a blueprint that sets out the phased reopening of society.
“We acknowledge it’s been tough, but the end of heavily restricted travel is now in sight”.
Since March of last year, New Zealand’s borders have remained closed with all international travellers required to quarantine for 14 days which has now been reduced to seven days.
Under the new regime, travellers will be required to self-isolate for seven days on the basis of being fully vaccinated and passing a series of Covid-19 tests.
This comes amid increasing pressure from New Zealanders who are stranded overseas and frustrated at being unable to book spots in the overstretched hotel quarantine system.
Hipkins acknowledged that many New Zealanders want the border open for Christmas but stated that this may not be a realistic expectation.
He stated, “There continues to be a global pandemic, with case numbers surging in Europe and other parts of the world”.
IMAGE – “Jacinda Ardern in Dunedin” by Wikimedia Commons is licensed under CC BY 4.0