Despite New Zealand not having had any community Covid-19 cases for many months and being in the fortunate position of having limited restrictions, our borders remain closed to everyone other than a narrow category of mainly citizens, permanent residents and their spouses and dependents etc.
There has been mounting pressure on Government to explain its plans about reopening our borders, whether obtaining herd immunity remains a viable goal and whether some different objectives may now be more appropriate.
The Government has this morning made a number of announcements. In terms of people wanting to travel, the most important aspects are summarised below:
By 1 September 2021 anyone in NZ can be vaccinated – it had been sequenced on age category basis.
There remains considerable nervousness about the Delta variant and if it emerges then the plan is a sharp lockdown.
It is acknowledged that the borders cannot remain permanently closed and it is proposed there be increasing reliance of the vaccine instead of the borders, for protection.
An acknowledgement that the risks differ depending on the country from which travellers arrive.
A phased reopening of the borders starting from 2022.
Entry into NZ will depend on one's vaccination status and where one has been in the last 14 days.
Introduction of modified isolation, potentially in Q1 2022, so that one can isolate at home, or for a shorter isolation period at MIQ, depending on factors such as one's vaccination status, the country one has travelled from etc. A pilot scheme will begin in October 2021. The scheme to test the modified system will involve a small number of people and will likely apply to citizens, permanent residents etc. living in NZ and travelling overseas for a short period and to a 'low risk' country.
The ultimate goal is to get to quarantine-free travel for all vaccinated people.
There will of course be a requirement for testing, declarations and other protocols.
If you have any questions about the matters raised in this update, please get in touch with the contacts listed or your usual Bell Gully advisor.
This publication is necessarily brief and general in nature. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication.