New Zealand’s Plan To Restart Travel In 2022

New Zealand’s Plan To Restart Travel In 2022

44

New Zealand has arguably done the best job of any country when it comes to protecting its residents from coronavirus. The country’s borders have been almost entirely closed, and those entering the country have had to undergo a managed quarantine.

There have been a lot of questions about how New Zealand will eventually lift travel restrictions, and we now have an update.

New Zealand will start to open borders in 2022

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has outlined the country’s plans to lift travel restrictions. For the second half of 2021, the country’s priority is to get residents vaccinated, with all adults being eligible for a vaccine by September 1. But what about travel?

Starting in early 2022, the plan is to gradually reopen borders with a risk-based system. The country will designate places as being low-risk, medium-risk, or high-risk, and each pathway will have testing and isolation requirements proportionate to the risk:

  • Vaccinated travelers coming from low-risk countries will be able to enter without quarantining
  • Vaccinated travelers coming from medium-risk countries will have to either self-isolate and/or be in a managed quarantine facility
  • Vaccinated travelers coming from high-risk countries will have to complete a 14-day managed quarantine
  • All unvaccinated travelers will also have to complete a 14-day managed quarantine
  • All travelers will still have to complete testing both before departure and on arrival, the details of which are still being worked out

In the last quarter of 2021, New Zealand is planning on running a self-isolation pilot to test out the medium-risk approach. In other words, the country will test having vaccinated people coming from some countries quarantine at home for some amount of time, rather than in a government facility.

New Zealand’s borders may start to reopen in 2022

New Zealand may never reopen to unvaccinated travelers

In addition to the above, New Zealand hopes to eventually reopen to all vaccinated travelers with testing and without quarantine, though there’s no timeline for that. Interestingly there’s no plan to let unvaccinated travelers into the country without a quarantine, even far down the road.

That’s totally fair — after all, lots of countries have requirements to have certain vaccines, and coronavirus shouldn’t be any different.

My take on New Zealand’s reopening strategy

New Zealand has now outlined its border reopening plan as concretely as it has done up until this point, and I have a few thoughts:

  • I’d imagine that “low-risk” countries will be places that are really low risk, like Australia (before the current outbreak), etc.; given that New Zealand has taken a zero-tolerance approach towards coronavirus, I’m guessing the assessment of risk is different than it would be for the United States or United Kingdom, for example
  • For a vast majority of us, the only thing we can hope for is to be from a country categorized as being “medium-risk,” and even if you’re vaccinated that means you’ll need to get tested and quarantine for some amount of time, which will probably deter most tourists
  • New Zealand recently canceled its travel bubble with Australia, and it sounds like we shouldn’t expect that to return anytime soon; rather I suspect that in 2022, Australia could be one of the first countries placed in the “low-risk” category, assuming the situation there improves

I don’t think there’s a single right way to manage a pandemic (though I certainly think there are some wrong ways). My personal opinion is that once everyone has access to an effective vaccine for some amount of time, life should more or less return to normal (or at least a new normal).

Even among countries taking a zero-tolerance approach, we’ve seen different post-vaccination plans:

Singapore is taking a different approach to reopening

Bottom line

New Zealand plans to start opening to travelers in early 2022, after residents in the country have a chance to get vaccinated. However, even then not everyone will be allowed to enter the country without quarantine, even if vaccinated.

New Zealand will initially only allow “low-risk” vaccinated travelers without a quarantine. I’d expect those to be people from really low risk countries, and not anywhere in North America, Europe, etc. Meanwhile those from higher risk countries will still have to complete some sort of a quarantine, the details of which are being worked out.

What do you make of New Zealand’s border reopening plans?

Conversations (44)
Newest comments are displayed first.

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. RICHARD MACDONALD

    As expected, DELTA has arrived in New Zealand and 22 hours ago the whole country was locked down. Our Prime Minister has been weak in encouraging people to be vaccinated, as a result only 38% Kiwi's have had at least one jab.

  2. Bob

    Unfortunately the government of countries like NZ and Aus have created an expectation in their citizens that zero COVID forever is an achievable outcome. That is now a fantasy (and it probably always was) as we know COVID will be endemic.

    These governments now surely realize this (even if they aren't yet saying it publicly) but are faced with the challenge of changing the expectation in the population that they have created...

    (btw, this new...

    Unfortunately the government of countries like NZ and Aus have created an expectation in their citizens that zero COVID forever is an achievable outcome. That is now a fantasy (and it probably always was) as we know COVID will be endemic.

    These governments now surely realize this (even if they aren't yet saying it publicly) but are faced with the challenge of changing the expectation in the population that they have created...

    (btw, this new comment system where it only shows random selected comments on the main page, and you have to click "join the conversation" to see the actual comment thread is pretty annoying)

  3. Aaron

    The world needs to come to grips with the fact that covid is never going away. There will be mutation after mutation of the virus, and it's going to be as ubiquitous as the common flu. This notion of reaching "covid zero" is a fantasy.

    When HIV surfaced in the 70s/80s, there was a 100% death rate if you became infected. Yet, the world still managed to carry on. We even still had sex with...

    The world needs to come to grips with the fact that covid is never going away. There will be mutation after mutation of the virus, and it's going to be as ubiquitous as the common flu. This notion of reaching "covid zero" is a fantasy.

    When HIV surfaced in the 70s/80s, there was a 100% death rate if you became infected. Yet, the world still managed to carry on. We even still had sex with one another. And here we are, decades later, and it is still with us. One million people die each year from HIV/AIDS, and we still manage to live with it.

    Covid, on the other hand? Less than a 1% death rate, and our lives are in a complete upheaval. The sooner we can accept covid is here to stay, the sooner we can move on with our lives.

    1. snic

      There are two problems with your comparison of covid to HIV. First, HIV spreads much slower because it's an STD. Coronavirus spreads much faster. So if we assume the death rate is the same (1%), many more people will die of covid than HIV simply because many more people will get infected. Second, the death rate for HIV is actually lower than covid (0.5% vs about 1% for covid).

      Of course, the vaccines lower the...

      There are two problems with your comparison of covid to HIV. First, HIV spreads much slower because it's an STD. Coronavirus spreads much faster. So if we assume the death rate is the same (1%), many more people will die of covid than HIV simply because many more people will get infected. Second, the death rate for HIV is actually lower than covid (0.5% vs about 1% for covid).

      Of course, the vaccines lower the covid infection rate, which ideally will bring the absolute death rate (deaths from covid out of the entire population) down to something like what it is with HIV. But if variants emerge that escape the vaccines, that won't happen, at least not anytime soon.

  4. derek

    @skyward geek regarding if there are links about masks not working.

    Flimsy masks don't work too well.
    Good masks work well.
    Use a good mask or at least a mediocre mask. Not a flimsy cloth mask.

  5. Terry

    Covid will become 'endemic' like flu. Vaccines are a barrier, not always impenetrable. Herd immunity is probably impossible because of continuous mutations. NZ never had an end game for how to open up. Eventually, most countries will just have to vaccinate as many as possible, open up & get on with it, accepting a certain number of cases.

  6. Alan

    New Zealand would do very well to wait to vaccinate their population. Countries with high vaccination rates, like Iceland and Israel, are seeing cases spike exponentially. Iceland now has more cases than any time since the pandemic began.
    Given they have zero cases, they can wait until either better treatments are developed or more beneficial vaccines are released.
    As reported recently the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine may now be as low as...

    New Zealand would do very well to wait to vaccinate their population. Countries with high vaccination rates, like Iceland and Israel, are seeing cases spike exponentially. Iceland now has more cases than any time since the pandemic began.
    Given they have zero cases, they can wait until either better treatments are developed or more beneficial vaccines are released.
    As reported recently the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine may now be as low as 42%; vaccines that have trial results with efficacies less than 50% are rarely even approved and would result in a disaster for a country that has almost no one with natural immunity.

    1. snic

      The Pfizer vaccine efficacy against positivity for the coronavirus is reported to be 42% in a recent study that randomly sampled vaccinated and unvaccinated people. That may be due to the prevalence of the delta variant, which has an easier time infecting vaccinated people than the original variants. But the Pfizer vaccine's efficacy in preventing illness and death is far, far higher. Which is why it will still be beneficial for NZ and other countries...

      The Pfizer vaccine efficacy against positivity for the coronavirus is reported to be 42% in a recent study that randomly sampled vaccinated and unvaccinated people. That may be due to the prevalence of the delta variant, which has an easier time infecting vaccinated people than the original variants. But the Pfizer vaccine's efficacy in preventing illness and death is far, far higher. Which is why it will still be beneficial for NZ and other countries to vaccinate their populations with that vaccine, at least for now.

  7. Jcil

    I agree with those who think the chances of NZ opening in any meaningful way at any time during 2022 are nil. They won’t even keep the current travel bubble with Australia open.

    I also am beginning to have serious doubts that Air New Zealand and Qantas will ever be major long haul airlines again. Maybe they can survive as regional carriers, but I fear that their glory days in the group of premier international airlines are over.

  8. FOX

    Both Australia & NZ

    Both countries will be in a shit state - In my first visit in 1985 they looked like Vietnam, after we left in 1975.

    1. Vv

      It’s amazing there are real people who say this kind of BS.

  9. Jan

    Lmfao, this will never happen. The world will live with COVID being endemic and NZ (and AU) never opening again.

  10. John

    I personally like the Swedish approach. No masks, just live your life. It’s been proven masks don’t work and that the US mandating them is just pure control. And I feel the US has one of if not the best passport(s) in the world. We’re pretty much for now able to go anywhere we want that has opened up like Europe and Mexico. But countries like Japan and Australia are still closed and in Europe they got the short end of the stick.

    1. Skyward Geek

      Please provide links that masks don't work.

    2. Mh

      "It's been proven that people make false claims that masks don't work..."

    3. Alan

      Mexico has never closed to anyone by air or by land.

    4. snic

      It's been proven that US mask mandates are "pure control"? By whom? How?

      This idea that asking people to wear masks is a form of "control" strikes me as bizarre. As if politicians somehow get a kick out of making their constituents wear masks for no reason.

    5. The Uberflieger

      Masks absolutely DO work. Shame one you for spreading lies. Shame, shame, shame. It's people like you who allowed Delta to spread unchecked and delayed the end of the pandemic. Fvck you. You should be forcibly vaccinated, if you ask me.

    6. Vv

      People are still parroting the lie that Sweden has done well despite lax measures? That’s so 2020. Sweden has done 3x worse than it’s immediate neighbors with stricter measures.

      https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2021/aug/06/steve-deace/swedens-low-covid-19-death-tally-july-ignores-othe/

      Covid lockdown: Seven enduring claims fact-checked
      https://www.bbc.com/news/55949640

  11. Azamaraal

    In British Columbia we have over 72% doubly vaccinated as of this morning.

    We have restrictions imposed once again on travel to the Okanagan and size of indoor groups (6).

    Infection rates are almost as high as back in April.

    At one time a population density of 70% vaccinated was thought to be enough to stop or significantly decrease transfer of the virus. Delta seems to have proven that incorrect.

    If we do not see...

    In British Columbia we have over 72% doubly vaccinated as of this morning.

    We have restrictions imposed once again on travel to the Okanagan and size of indoor groups (6).

    Infection rates are almost as high as back in April.

    At one time a population density of 70% vaccinated was thought to be enough to stop or significantly decrease transfer of the virus. Delta seems to have proven that incorrect.

    If we do not see a significant decline in infection rates soon we should start to consider that the vaccines are not effective against Delta which is a big concern.

    Of course, 95% of infections are the under 40's who have not been vaccinated!

    1. EC2

      70% of people vaccinated that had a vaccine that confers immunity (exposure without infection) and/or natural immunity then “herd immunity”. Unlike a vaccine for the small pox these vaccines do not immunize one from coronavirus.

    2. snic

      The vaccine DOES immunize against serious illness. It also causes you to become MUCH less likely to be positive for the disease, which means that your chances of infecting someone else are MUCH less. The wrinkly is that the delta variant is much better than the original variants at infecting vaccinated people even while strongly protecting them from illness and death. So they can transmit the virus to others at a higher probability than assumed...

      The vaccine DOES immunize against serious illness. It also causes you to become MUCH less likely to be positive for the disease, which means that your chances of infecting someone else are MUCH less. The wrinkly is that the delta variant is much better than the original variants at infecting vaccinated people even while strongly protecting them from illness and death. So they can transmit the virus to others at a higher probability than assumed by the models saying that herd immunity would occur at 70 to 80% vaccinated.

  12. the other Steve

    Welcome to Fantasyland, folks! Oh, you coughed? Take a COVID test and go quarantine for three days. Oh, we have a positive test result? Lock the country down!

    The fact that we are allowing governments to get away with draconian lockdowns and testing/quarantine regulations just goes to show that the human race has decided to give up on itself. Why bother thinking for ourselves anymore when the governments can do that for us?

    1. snic

      I conclude just the opposite. NZ decided to protect its people despite the economic expense of closing the border. And this policy is very popular among New Zealanders. How is saving lives an example of the human race "giving up on itself"? That's a bass-ackwards world view.

  13. Luke

    Meanwhile from the across the Tasman sea down under:\

    "CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s capital will go into lockdown for a week starting Thursday after a single case of COVID-19 was detected and the virus was found in wastewater."

    For a single case they are locking down 400k residents!

  14. Steve

    Zero covid is a fantasy and a failed policy that many countries have failed to realize. Its never going away, the focus needs to be avoided deaths and hospitalizations and not worry about microscopic viral loads in everyone's noses. Its ok to have a bubble temporarily but look at the economic impact years later from isolation policies. Joke will be on them and anyone else who doesn't open back up to the world.

    1. Skyward Geek

      I agree. Zero COVID doesn't work.

      Getting your own population vaccinated, then open up, is the only way you get out of this mess. Protect your people, don't overwhelm your healthcare system, and meanwhile allow people to live their lives. Businesses should be free to require vaccination to enter, but not as a government mandate. But get the vaccine.

      That's where Australia totally failed and NZ is just catching up.

    2. The Uberflieger

      Governments should absolutely mandate vaccinations, particularly for inbound international travellers.

    3. Iain

      Zero Covid is the perfect policy. It’s just a shame that more countries didn’t try it. We focused on zero Covid, with the result of avoided deaths and hospitalisations and no worrying about any viral loads in everyone’s noses. What is the economic cost of death and hospitalisation?

    4. Never In Doubt

      LOL @Ian.

      COVID is never going away. It's going to be endemic everywhere, forever.

      The only way NZ keeps "Zero COVID" is by continuing the current restrictions, forever.

      They won't do that. They'll vaccinate whatever % of the population wants to be vaccinated and then open the borders and COVID will arrive.

      The alternative is permanent isolation.

    5. snic

      Adern said that shutting the borders has so far kept 10,000 New Zealanders alive, assuming a similar death rate to the US if the borders had been open. It's a very good point. Is the economic hit that NZ took by closing the border worth 10,000 lives? From what I've read, the hit was not that great, and most Kiwis would agree that it was worth taking it to save that many people.

      The worry...

      Adern said that shutting the borders has so far kept 10,000 New Zealanders alive, assuming a similar death rate to the US if the borders had been open. It's a very good point. Is the economic hit that NZ took by closing the border worth 10,000 lives? From what I've read, the hit was not that great, and most Kiwis would agree that it was worth taking it to save that many people.

      The worry is that "fully vaccinated' is a moving target as variants emerge, which means that opening the border is much farther in the future than 2022.

  15. Malc

    The problem with NZ is that they've gotten used to their little bubble. They still think they can keep it out – the prime minister affirmed that the elimination strategy is the one that they will follow. The good thing about recent studies overseas is that despite the likelihood of getting the virus even if fully vaccinated, you're unlikely to get very ill. As most experts say, this is how vaccines are supposed to work....

    The problem with NZ is that they've gotten used to their little bubble. They still think they can keep it out – the prime minister affirmed that the elimination strategy is the one that they will follow. The good thing about recent studies overseas is that despite the likelihood of getting the virus even if fully vaccinated, you're unlikely to get very ill. As most experts say, this is how vaccines are supposed to work. But NZ is living in a fantasy land, thinking that it can keep the virus out for years to come. They'll periodically have lockdowns and continue to jeopardise their economy until they eventually face the reality that the rest of the world is facing now.

  16. Andy

    There is an economic component to this. The NZ economy is suffering increasingly - not mainly because of the lack of tourists, but the lack of fee paying students, the lack of fruit pickers, the lack of opportunity of NZ businesses to visit their overseas clients. It's mainly the NZ resident traveller, as well as those from Australia, they have in mind.

  17. Never In Doubt

    There is 0% chance that NZ is *meaningfully* open in early 2022.

    Late 2022, maybe.

  18. Will

    I'm sure this will work out 100% as planned and the vaccines will remain highly effective and allow this system to be a striking success

    1. snic

      That sarcastic thought is more or less what was going through my head as I heard about NZ's plans. Even if the vaccines remain highly effective, the plan depends on a very high proportion of New Zealanders agreeing to get vaccinated and doing so quickly. While I expect the vaccination rate to be higher in NZ than in the US, if it's not up at 85% or 90%, NZ may still fear the virus enough...

      That sarcastic thought is more or less what was going through my head as I heard about NZ's plans. Even if the vaccines remain highly effective, the plan depends on a very high proportion of New Zealanders agreeing to get vaccinated and doing so quickly. While I expect the vaccination rate to be higher in NZ than in the US, if it's not up at 85% or 90%, NZ may still fear the virus enough to impose quarantine even on vaccinated travelers.

      And of course there will most likely be other variants after delta, which will require a new vaccine, which means NZ needs to buy 5 million doses of that vaccine and get everyone injected, which means that eliminating quarantine will be delayed by a year or more, which means that yet another new variant is likely to emerge, which means...

      I can forget about visiting NZ in my lifetime.

  19. Brandon

    @Chris

    So you’re very much a Debbie downer. If that were the case then why is most of Europe, Mexico, and Canada still open to Americans? I wouldn’t be surprised if Singapore reopens to vaccinated Americans at some point as well. Americans can travel many places, in comparison to Australians who can’t really go anywhere…

    1. Alan

      Mexico has never closed to anyone. You really cannot use that as an example.

  20. Chris

    I think it’s fair to say this is going to be normal and the as a US citizen, your passport will become far less valuable. Be glad you got to see the world hamper-free when you did, because it’s not going to be easy or worth it for most going forward.

    1. Never In Doubt

      There's so much nonsense in that single comment, it's hard to unpack.

      Is it that most countries will behave like NZ? Already nonsense, most countries aren't behaving like NZ!

      Is it that US passport holders will be disadvantaged (relative to the past) vs. holders of other passports? Also, nonsense! US passport holders are as free (in many cases more free!) to travel to third party countries as holders of other countries' passports.

      Was there other...

      There's so much nonsense in that single comment, it's hard to unpack.

      Is it that most countries will behave like NZ? Already nonsense, most countries aren't behaving like NZ!

      Is it that US passport holders will be disadvantaged (relative to the past) vs. holders of other passports? Also, nonsense! US passport holders are as free (in many cases more free!) to travel to third party countries as holders of other countries' passports.

      Was there other nonsense that I missed?

    2. Robert Schrader

      Travel restrictions related to Covid have nothing to do with the passport you hold. They are based on where you’ve spent the previous 14 days.

Featured Comments Load all 44 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Skyward Geek

Please provide links that masks don't work.

Mh

"It's been proven that people make false claims that masks don't work..."

Jcil

I agree with those who think the chances of NZ opening in any meaningful way at any time during 2022 are nil. They won’t even keep the current travel bubble with Australia open. I also am beginning to have serious doubts that Air New Zealand and Qantas will ever be major long haul airlines again. Maybe they can survive as regional carriers, but I fear that their glory days in the group of premier international airlines are over.

Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,523,713 Miles Traveled

25,807,500 Words Written

28,675 Posts Published