New Zealand border – staged easing of MIQ requirements to begin mid-January

24 November 2021

New Zealand’s tight border control will begin to ease at the start of next year, with the government announcing managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) will no longer be required for fully vaccinated New Zealanders arriving from Australia in mid-January.

This will be followed by progressive relaxation of MIQ requirements for fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other ‘eligible travellers’ from other countries, then by a staged re-opening for foreign nationals from the end of April.

Obligatory quarantine has been hotly debated in New Zealand with limited availability of MIQ spaces proving particularly problematic. However, while the three-stage reopening will be welcomed by many, the experience in other countries suggest that there can be no assurance the new rules will not change again.

MIQ will no longer be a requirement for fully vaccinated:

  • New Zealanders and other ‘eligible travellers’ returning from Australia effective 17 January 2022.
  • New Zealanders and other ‘eligible travellers’ returning from other countries effective 14 February 2022.
  • Foreign nationals from 30 April 2022. This will be a staged reopening and further announcements are still to be made.

Eligible travellers include residence-class visa holders and other travellers eligible to enter NZ under the current border settings.

Travellers will still be required to:

  • Self-isolate at home for a period of seven days.
  • Show a negative pre-departure test.
  • Show proof of being fully vaccinated.
  • Provide a declaration about travel history.
  • Have a day 0/1 negative test and a negative test before leaving self-isolation.

The experience of recent times in other countries suggest that these new rules cannot be assumed to be absolute. The government will no doubt continue to monitor developments and while many hope for certainty, there is no assurance the rules will not change.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement that retaining a seven-day period of isolation at home for fully vaccinated travellers is “an important phase” and these settings will continue to be reviewed against the risk posed by travellers entering New Zealand.

The changes do not mean the end of MIQ as a system. Minister Hipkins said MIQ was always intended to be temporary at its current scale, but it would continue to have a role for the foreseeable future.

Further details on how self-isolation will be implemented will be made available in December.

Bell Gully will continue to monitor developments and keep you informed if further changes are announced.

If you have any questions about the border changes, please get in touch with the authors or your usual Bell Gully adviser.

Disclaimer: 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.