The New Zealand government has announced that all non-New Zealand citizens arriving into the country from November 1, 2021 must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Travellers will be required to declare their vaccination status, as well as presenting proof of vaccination or a relevant exemption to their airline and to Customs officers once they land, and will still be required to complete 14 days in Managed Isolation and Quarantine at their own expense.
Travellers except those from exempt locations will still need to have evidence of a negative test result within 72 hours of their first scheduled international flight.
The requirement will not apply to New Zealand citizens, children under 17, and those who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.
In a pilot project set to start in November, New Zealand is to begin allowing small numbers of vaccinated travellers to isolate at home instead of in state-run quarantine facilities as part of a phased approach to re-opening its borders, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last week.
The pilot will be open to 150 people, who must be New Zealand citizens or residents and are fully vaccinated, Ardern said at a news conference.
“While this is a pilot, it gives you a sense of where we intend to go on our borders,” Ardern said, adding that the government was working on a wide range of options for allowing people back in safely.
“We’re working on building a greater evidence base for shorter periods of isolation in the future as well,” she said.
“Getting vaccinated is the most effective measure against the transmission of COVID-19, and the risk of serious illness or death,” COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.
“To further reduce the possibility of the virus getting through our border, we are introducing the requirement for air travellers aged 17 and over, who are not New Zealand citizens, to be fully vaccinated to enter New Zealand.
“This is an important step in our Reconnecting New Zealand strategy.”
The moves come as Air New Zealand introduced a ‘No Jab, No Fly’ policy for international travellers, which will take effect from 1 February 2022.
“Mandating vaccination on our international flights will give both customers and employees the peace of mind that everyone onboard meets the same health requirements as they do,” chief executive Greg Foran said in a statement.
However, while there has been talk of re-establishing a quarantine-free trans-Tasman bubble, possibly in time for Christmas, the New Zealand government is yet to give a timeline for its international border to reopen in 2022, leaving the industry pushing for clarity.
Speaking to New Zealand’s Newstalk ZB, Board of Airlines Justin Tighe Umbers said the clock is ticking for New Zealand with the rest of the world opening quickly.
“We don’t get a hoof on down here, when New Zealand flights have only got about 30 passengers coming into them in many instances, airlines are just going to shift their planes north.”
“If we don’t get a move on, we’re going to be back to the bad old days where we have to fly via Australia to get anywhere internationally.” He said.
Currently, around 78 per cent of NZ’s eligible population has received their first vaccine dose, with 46 per cent now fully vaccinated.
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