New Zealand Intends To Accept Visitors From Late April 2022

As it slowly emerges from one of the world’s longest COVID-19 lockdowns, New Zealand plans to welcome visitors from late April 2022. The plan is to open the border in different phases and only allow fully vaccinated New Zealanders and eligible people arriving from Australia to skip the mandatory hotel quarantine period first. On November 14, New Zealand shortened its hotel quarantine period from 14 to seven days for fully vaccinated travelers.

People arriving in New Zealand will still need to self-isolate for seven days Photo: Getty Images

Starting in the first phase of the reopening on January 16, 2022, they will no longer have to quarantine in a hotel but will be required to self-isolate at home for seven days. They will also have to undergo COVID-19 testing on arrival and departure.

Visitors will still need to self-isolate

Under phase two of the border reopening, New Zealand passport holders and people with a permanent resident visa will be able to come to New Zealand from other countries starting February 13, 2022. In phase three, beginning on April 30, 2022, New Zealand will welcome fully vaccinated people arriving as tourists from all countries.

With 84% of all people in New Zealand now fully vaccinated for COVID-19, people have been questioning the need to have a seven-day isolation period before being allowed out in the community. Using Australia as an example, they say that no arrivals from Australia have tested positive during hotel quarantine since August. When speaking about the easing of New Zealand’s entry rules today, the New York Times quotes the minister responsible for New Zealand’s pandemic response Chris Hipkins as saying:

“It’s very encouraging that we as a country are now in a position to move towards greater normality. I do want to emphasize, though, that travel in 2022 won’t necessarily be exactly the same as it was in pre-2020 travel.”

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Tourism accounted for over 5% of New Zealand GDP

Representatives from the tourism industry who have borne the brunt of the lockdown are speaking out about the seven-day isolation period. Before COVID-19, tourism was a huge part of the New Zealand economy and provided locals with 230,000 jobs. It also brought in over 30 billion dollars a year which is over 5% of the countries Gross Domestic Product (GDP). During the lockdown, domestic tourism has flourished, yet locals only spent a third of what foreigners leave behind.

Air New Zealand at Wellington
Domestic tourism has boomed. Photo: Getty Images

When defending New Zealand’s zero-COVID-19 strategy and cautious reopening, Mr. Hipkins pointed out the current crisis that is unfolding in Europe saying:

“As we move into 2022, we know that the pandemic is not over. It’s not going to suddenly end, and we only need to look at Europe to know that the path out of the pandemic is not a straightforward one.”

Air New Zealand will be pleased

After being locked out of the country for nearly two years, the end of the quarantine hotel period will make it much easier for thousands of Kiwis to return home. The news will also be welcomed by national flag carrier Air New Zealand who openly complained about the government when they decided not to restart the Tasman Sea travel bubble this year. Because of this Air New Zealand has had to cancel more than 1,000 flights in December.

Air New Zealand is unhappy that the government won’t reopen the travel bubble with Australia until 2022. Photo: Getty Images

What do you think about New Zealand’s approach? Are they being too cautious, or are they right to insist on home isolation for seven days? Please tell us what you think in the comments.