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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Travel to New Zealand: latest advice as country prepares to reopen borders

New Zealand’s border reopening will happen in three stages. First, citizens and visa holders from Australia will be allowed in, then New Zealanders based in other countries, and finally all vaccinated visitors will be allowed to enter from the end of April 2022.

Arrivals will still have to endure a week-long self isolation, but they will no longer need to enter a managed isolation facility.

People have taken to social media to celebrate the news. @Lincoln81 tweeted: “I get to hug my mum again!” and journalist Sylvia varnham O’Regan tweeted: “Home is reopening. I am so happy!”.

Others are not pleased with the ongoing quarantine restrictions. Angela Davies tweeted: “Ridiculous that tourists entering NZ from end of April 2022 who already have had three vaccinations still have to self isolate for seven days.”

On a thread called Grounded Kiwis on Twitter, one user @Zelda_C_ wrote: “The timeline and the distinction between travellers is extremely disappointing and unnecessary. No logic in having NZ citizens wait till Jan and Feb, and as a non NZ citizen (not visiting for tourism), having to wait till May (even that is unsure) is painful and makes no sense.”

An estimated one million New Zealanders live overseas, with as many as 600,000 living in Australia. As it stands, those wanting to return must apply for an online ballet to secure a spot in a government-run isolation facility.

Below we outline everything you need to know about visiting New Zealand in 2022.

Can I go to New Zealand?

Not right now, unless you are a New Zealander with a ‘critical purpose for travel’ and are happy to endure a week-long quarantine in a government-run facility on arrival. 

From January 17 2022, fully-vaccinated New Zealanders from Australia will be able to enter without staying in a managed isolation facility, though they must isolate at a private address. The requirement for a ‘critical purpose for travel’ will also be dropped. The next stage is that fully-vaccinated New Zealanders from other countries will be able to enter from February 14 2022 with a week-long quarantine at home.

Fully-vaccinated foreign visitors will finally be able to enter from April 30 2022, with a requirement to self-isolate at home for seven days.

Are any countries on New Zealand’s red list?

Yes. New Zealand classifies countries as ‘very high risk’, but at the moment Papua New Guinea is the only country under that designation. The current very high-risk countries of Fiji, Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Brazil will be classified as safe from early next month.

Are flights operating to New Zealand?

A small number of flights are operating to New Zealand right now. In October, 10,748 people arrived in New Zealand and 9,574 departed. Direct flights from Melbourne, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Fiji are listed on Skyscanner in the coming weeks.

Will I need to quarantine when I arrive?

Yes. When New Zealand reopens to fully-vaccinated foreign visitors from April 30, they will have to self-isolate for seven days at a private address (not a government-run facility).

Covid response minister Chris Hipkins said self isolation requirements would be present for the foreseeable future. “We will eventually reach a point where people will be able to move much more freely across the border and those periods of self isolation won’t be required. We’re not at that point yet,” he said.

Do I need to take a test to travel to New Zealand?

It is likely that British travellers will need to provide evidence of a negative pre-departure test, taken 72 hours before travel to New Zealand. They will also need to provide evidence that they are fully vaccinated to board a flight to the country.

What happens when I land in New Zealand?

New Zealand’s reopening is still five months away, but it is likely you will undergo testing on arrival in New Zealand. You will also need to complete a passenger declaration form confirming your travel history.

How is the data looking in New Zealand?

In total, New Zealand has reported 10,610 cases of Covid-19. The vast majority of these have been recorded since August 2021, when the country experienced an outbreak of the delta variant. Right now the case rate per 100,000 over seven days is 27.46. Only 40 people in New Zealand have died of Covid-19.

To take a country of a similar population, by way of comparison, Slovakia has recorded 1,092,704 cases of Covid-19 and 13,985 deaths. The seven-day case rate is 624.58.

Will I be insured if I go?

The FCDO no longer advises against non-essential travel (i.e. holidays) to New Zealand based on its Covid risks, meaning travel insurance is easier to come by. However, some advisories are still in place for certain parts of the world. For the full list of advisories, see gov.uk. 

Do I need to take a test before travelling back to England?

No, not if you are fully vaccinated. If you are not double-jabbed, you must take a lateral flow test 72 hours before arriving in the UK and have an official certificate to prove it. If you fail to do so, you will be denied boarding, or risk a fine of up to £500 on arrival back in the UK. You can find the Government’s rules on testing before departure, here.

It is also compulsory to fill out a Passenger Locator Form to present to your airline and at the border.

Do I need to take a test or self isolate on my return to England?

Travellers who have received two doses of a Covid vaccine can avoid quarantine on their return home, but still need to take a non-NHS lateral flow test before Day 2. Those who haven’t had both jabs must self-isolate at home for 10 days. You will also need to take a PCR test on the second and eighth days of your self-isolation. If you opt in for Test to Release, you can take an extra test on Day 5 to exit quarantine (if your result is negative), but will still need to take the further test on Day 8.

It is possible, however, that the UK will scrap its testing requirements by the time New Zealand opens to the world on April 30. Check closer to the time to make sure you are up to speed on the rules, and set up an alert for New Zealand’s FCDO page for the latest changes.

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