Announcement means borders will open two months sooner than the federal government’s timetable.
New Zealand will absolutely reopen its worldwide borders from July 31, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern mentioned on Wednesday, marking the top of one of many hardest border regimes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement means borders will open two months sooner than the federal government’s timetable for lifting its remaining pandemic restrictions.
New Zealand earlier this month started welcoming vacationers from greater than 50 international locations together with the US, Canada, Britain and Japan for the primary time in additional than two years, after earlier lifting restrictions on guests from Australia and Europe.
Most guests and returning residents should nonetheless present proof of a unfavorable COVID-19 outcome earlier than departure.
Talking at a lunch hosted by Enterprise NZ in Auckland, Ardern mentioned reopening the borders would assist alleviate abilities shortages, revive tourism and put immigration on a safer footing.
“We’re constructing on our confirmed plan to safe New Zealand’s financial future,” Ardern mentioned.
New Zealand relied closely on strict border controls to handle COVID-19. Whereas the South Pacific nation has reported fewer than 850 deaths all through the pandemic, its isolation inflicted a heavy toll on industries resembling tourism and left 1000’s of New Zealanders stranded abroad.
Eve Lawrence, common supervisor of Haka Tourism Group in Auckland, mentioned the announcement represents a “large step in the suitable course”, however COVID testing guidelines proceed to be a barrier to tourism.
“The obstacles we’re dealing with are pre-departure testing, the expense of this and the prolonged pre-departure declaration course of,” Lawrence advised Al Jazeera. “We actually want the pre-departure procedures to be lightened and testing to be dropped to ensure that many to nonetheless contemplate New Zealand a viable choice this 12 months.”
Lawrence mentioned she believes most New Zealanders will probably be glad to see the borders absolutely reopen after greater than two years of restrictions.
“It will give a much-needed increase in morale to tourism, agriculture and hospo [hospitality] companies and guarantee they will stay up for a affluent summer season season,” she mentioned.