Early in 2022, the eyes of Fortress New Zealand will open to vaccinated visitors

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New Zealand wants to allow vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries to enter quarantine-free starting in early 2022, as it prepares to reopen its borders after nearly 18 months of pandemic-induced isolation.

New Zealand was able to eradicate Covid-19 considerably faster than almost all other countries because to tight border controls and its geographic advantage, but the Pacific island nation of 5 million people was virtually locked off from the rest of the globe.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday that the country is still not ready to fully open up, but that it will do so gradually beginning in early 2019.

In a speech announcing intentions to reconnect New Zealand with the rest of the globe, the 41-year-old leader said, “We’re simply not in a position to fully reopen just yet.”

“When we move, we’ll be cautious and slow,” she explained, “because we want to move with confidence and conviction.”

From the first quarter of next year, Ardern said, the government will consider allowing vaccinated passengers from low-risk countries to travel without quarantine.

Self-isolation or a shorter stay at a quarantine hotel will be required for those traveling from medium-risk nations. Those arriving from high-risk nations or who have not been vaccinated will still be held in quarantine for 14 days.

Some vaccinated travelers will be allowed to take part in a test program from October to December this year, in which they will be permitted to travel while remaining self-isolated at home.

Ardern has received international acclaim for successfully controlling local Covid-19 transmission through a stringent elimination effort. Only 2,500 cases and 26 deaths have been reported in the country.

However, as private enterprises and the public sector cope with workforce shortages and reduced earnings, pressure to reopen borders has grown.

Despite the phased reopening, Ardern stated that the government will stick to its virus-eradication policy in order to protect its hard-won status as one of the few virus-free countries.

“That is not to say that the settings we have today, will be the settings we have forever. That is something no one wants “she stated


Ardern also said that the country will speed up its vaccination rollout, with all eligible ages being able to book their vaccine by Sept. 1 and a six-week gap between doses being implemented to ensure that more New Zealanders are at least partially vaccinated.

New Zealand’s vaccination program has been slower than most other countries, with just about 21% of the population fully vaccinated so far.

Critics have criticised the government for delaying vaccination, claiming that the government must move faster to protect people before opening borders.

“While vaccination rates are improving, we are still the slowest in the OECD and 120th in the world,” said Judith Collins, leader of the opposition National Party.

“This is not the front of the line we were promised, and it is simply insufficient in light of the increased risk posed by new varieties.”

Due of outbreaks caused by Delta in Australia, Ardern suspended the so-called “travel bubble” that permitted quarantine-free travel between the two nations last month.

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