Govt vows to keep Covid restrictions until October

New Zealand will retain some coronavirus prevention measures until the back end of the year

Speaking on Thursday, New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said the nation would not be free of Covid-19 restrictions until October as the government plans a phased reopening of the border. 

“Our strategy with Omicron is to slow the spread, and our borders are part of that,” Ardern told a business audience in Auckland. 

From February 27, vaccinated New Zealanders in Australia can travel home without the need to stay at state-managed quarantine facilities. Two weeks later, New Zealand citizens around the world will also be able to return without the need to stay at the quarantine centers.

Some skilled workers, as well as foreign vaccinated backpackers, will be allowed in from March 13. In April, up to 5,000 international students will be given permission to enter.

Tourists from visa-free countries, including Australia, will only be allowed to enter from July. Under the current plans, those from the rest of the world will be forced to wait until October.

Ardern said that all travelers would still have to self-isolate for 10 days, while noting that opening the borders in a managed way would ensure the healthcare system could manage the anticipated increase in cases.

The highly contagious Omicron variant has already been detected in New Zealand and is responsible for a small uptick in infections.

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