Australians and Kiwi expats will soon be able to return to New Zealand with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiling a five-step plan for the re-opening of international borders.
Fully-vaccinated New Zealanders in Australia will be able to return home from February 27 at 11.59pm. They will be able to avoid quarantine but will have to self-isolate at home. The self-isolation period will be 10 days.
As part of step two, from March 13, Kiwis further abroad will also be able to avoid quarantine, as will skilled workers and working holiday visa holders.
When Australians can visit New Zealand
But Australians looking to cross the Tasman will only be able to do so from July. No specific date was provided but Ms Ardern said “no later than July”. Aussies will also be subject to self-isolation instead of state hotel quarantine.
"It's time to move," Ms Ardern said.
"Now it is time to move forward together, safely."
As part of the changes, all arrivals will be given three rapid antigen tests at the airport to take home — one for initial use, one for use later in isolation, and another as backup.
"That gives us the best chance of identifying cases that have come across the border," Ms Ardern said.
Ms Ardern said the final step will see New Zealand’s borders completely re-opened to the international community from October.
NZ's border policies have minimised the loss of life during the pandemic, first eliminating Covid-19 in 2020, then delaying the arrival of the Delta and Omicron variants.
New Zealand's five-step border reopening plan
Step one – Vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travellers can return to New Zealand from February 27 at 11.59pm.
Step two – New Zealanders in other parts of the world and other eligible travellers are allowed to arrive from March 13 at 11.59pm.
Step three – Offshore temporary visa holders and up to 5,000 international students are able to arrive from April 12 at 11.59pm.
Step four – Australians can travel to New Zealand by July 2022.
Step five – By October, New Zealand reopens borders to the rest of the world.
However, there have been growing calls to lessen quarantine provisions - known locally as MIQ - as Kiwis seek easier pathways in and out of Aotearoa.
The case of Charlotte Bellis, a pregnant Kiwi journalist working in Afghanistan who found herself unable to navigate MIQ rules to come home to give birth, has reignited calls to ease restrictions.
Beyond Ms Bellis, there are thousands of other trans-Tasman families or Kiwis seeking to travel for myriad reasons.
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