We will have to wait a little longer before we can get to New Zealand. The country’s borders will remain closed to foreign travelers until the end of April, according to the gradual reopening plan unveiled on Wednesday.

The minister in charge of the fight against Covid-19, Chris Hipkins, on the other hand indicated that New Zealanders stranded in Australia could return from mid-January, those from the rest of the world having to wait until February. “We recognize that the situation has been difficult, but the end of travel restrictions is now in sight,” he said.

Home isolation

New Zealand had closed its borders in March 2020. All people arriving from abroad were required to observe a two-week quarantine in a hotel. This period has recently been reduced to seven days. However, the minister went further on Wednesday by announcing that with the gradual opening of its borders, to Australia and then to the rest of the planet, travelers will have to isolate themselves at home for seven days after proving to be fully vaccinated and negative for coronavirus.

The announcement comes amid growing pressure from New Zealanders stranded abroad and frustrated at not being able to book rooms in insufficiently quarantined hotels. Chris Hipkins admitted that many residents wanted the borders to reopen for Christmas, but he felt that was unrealistic. “The global pandemic continues, with an increase in the number of cases in Europe and other parts of the world,” he said. The minister said that from next month, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Fiji and Brazil would no longer be classified among the countries at very high risk, which will allow their nationals to travel to New Zealand from April 30.

New Zealand announced earlier this week a change in its strategy to fight Covid-19, deciding to contain the Delta variant rather than eliminate it. The disease has only killed 40 people in a population of five million, but the authorities admitted that this variant was a game-changer and that they had to abandon their zero Covid goal.

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