New Zealand to stay closed to visitors until April 2022

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New Zealanders and residents of most countries will be allowed quarantine-free entry from February 13.

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New Zealand will keep its borders closed to most international travelers for the next five months, the government said on Wednesday, adding that the border restrictions have been cautious since COVID-19 hit in March 2020.

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With its geographic isolation, the South Pacific country imposed some of the strictest pandemic restrictions among OECD countries, limiting the spread of COVID-19 and helping its economy to bounce back faster than many of its peers.

But an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant earlier this year has forced a change in strategy, with the main city of Auckland now only slowly opening up as vaccination rates climb.

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Fully vaccinated international travelers will be allowed to enter the country from April 30, 2022, with a re-opening over time, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told a news conference.

Residence visa holders in New Zealand and neighboring Australia can travel to New Zealand from 16 January, while New Zealand and residence visa holders from most other countries will be allowed from 13 February.

‘Phased Approach’

“A phased approach to reconnecting with the world is the surest way to carefully manage risk,” Hipkins said.

“This minimizes any potential impact on vulnerable communities and the New Zealand health system.”

Travelers will no longer be required to stay at state quarantine facilities, he said, but will take other measures, including a negative pre-departure test, proof of thorough vaccination and a COVID-19 test on arrival.

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