New Zealand Announces Phased Reopening Plan — What to Know

Self-isolating and testing will still be required.

People wearing face masks walk in downtown Wellington, New Zealand,
Photo: Guo Lei/Getty Images

New Zealand announced on Thursday that it will implement a phased border reopening starting next month — following nearly two years of strict travel restrictions and a closed border.

To start, the country will allow vaccinated citizens and residents of New Zealand returning from Australia on Feb. 27 before allowing those citizens and residents traveling from the rest of the world to return on March 13, according to the government's laid out plan. Travelers will have to self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival.

Then in July, New Zealand will welcome fully vaccinated Australians as well as fully vaccinated travelers from countries that do not require a visa, which includes the United States. However, visitors will also have to self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival.

By October, New Zealand plans to open up for all visa categories, including student visas. A self-isolation period was not specified in the final tier of the reopening plan.

All travelers will also have to take a pre-departure test (which is currently a PCR test taken within 48 hours of the scheduled departure), and will be given three rapid antigen tests at the airport: one to take on the first day, one to take on day 5/6, and an extra just in case.

"By the time we start to reopen our border, we'll be one of the most vaccinated and most boosted countries in the world and the COVID-19 Protection Framework will be well established in helping to manage COVID outbreaks," Chris Hipkins, the country's minister for COVID-19 response, said in a statement. "Our plan has built-in protections to help manage risks such as future variants. A phased approach to reopening reduces the risk of a surge of cases, while prioritizing the return of New Zealanders and much needed entry of skilled workers."

The opening plan is a delayed version of what the country announced in November when it initially expected to start allowing fully vaccinated New Zealanders to return from Australia without a hotel quarantine in January.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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