New Zealand will reopen its borders to vaccinations in the first months of 2022, the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak in the first month of the year. The country's borders have been closed for more than a year and a half.
New Zealand citizens and visa holders from Australia, the rest of the world and all other vaccine visitors will be able to enter the country from the end of April. They will not have to go through the country's expensive and highly-space limited managed isolation facilities.
Chris Hipkins said that closing the border was one of the first steps they took to keep the country safe. The international restrictions around our border have been difficult for many people.
The news of a border reopening will be a huge relief for many overseas New Zealanders who have been stranded for most of the last year, competing for a small number of spots in managed isolation.
Being locked out of the country has taken a toll on many. Matt Hipkins, a New Zealander in Hong Kong and member of the GroundedKiwis advocacy group, said he was overwhelmed by the announcement.
He said that he was in tears because he was apart from family. I wasn't ready for the emotional release, the stress that has been built up over the past year. I am not given to being overly emotional but this has taken me by surprise and made me feel like I am being allowed back to my home and family.
Others celebrated on social media. People in our office are crying. Reuniting with family. I will see my mom again. Pollyanne Pea is on social media. Pea said that her mother had missed a lot of important events in her grandson's life.
The announcement was a mixed bag. Mrid Narayan said she felt a mixture of relief and betrayal.
She said that she never thought she would have to take a lottery to return to her home.
Chris Hipkins defended the government's decision not to reopen the borders before Christmas. We need to be very careful when reopening the border because of the global Pandemic that continues to rage.
Some people and businesses want us to open before Christmas, but others want us to be cautious. Hipkins said that the end of heavily restricted travel is in sight.
The border will open in stages. Hipkins said that New Zealanders can travel to New Zealand from Australia without staying in managed isolation. They can come from all other countries. International tourists will be able to travel to New Zealand from the end of April. Only one country will be classified as a very high risk, and that's Papua New Guinea.
Hipkins said that managed isolation would be around for a long time. We will eventually reach a point where people will be able to move freely across the border, and those periods of self isolation won't be required. We are not at that point yet.