Is New Zealand Allowing Visitors

Introduction

New Zealand has been relatively successful in managing the spread of COVID-19 and is now cautiously reopening its borders to visitors. The country’s government is carefully monitoring the situation and has taken extra precautions to ensure both citizens and travelers are safe in the country. The New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced a new travel policy in mid-July, allowing quarantine-free travel for travelers from many parts of Australia as well as a handful of other countries.

Background

New Zealand was one of the first countries to implement a strict quarantine and border closure in response to the coronavirus pandemic. International travelers were not allowed in or out of the country. This policy proved very effective and the daily virus caseload in New Zealand steadily reduced to near zero in June.
Meanwhile, the Australian state of Victoria experienced a sudden surge in cases and reimposed a shutdown in Melbourne, prompting a nationwide closure of the Australian-New Zealand borders in July.

Travel restrictions

New Zealand’s travel policy is quite restrictive. The policy requires travelers from Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States to present negative Covid-19 test results within 72 hours to gain entry into the country. All other international travelers, including those from other Pacific Island countries, require a valid visa plus a 14-day quarantine at an approved location such as a hotel.

Health and safety measures

The New Zealand government is taking a cautious approach to reopening the country, with strict health and safety measures in place. All travelers, whether quarantine-free or not, must fill out a form called ‘NZ COVID Tracer’ that includes detailed personal health information. This helps the government to monitor the health status of travelers and contact trace if needed.
Additionally, all travelers are required to maintain physical distancing, wear face masks in public, and follow other safety protocols.

Economic benefits

The reopening of the country’s borders to travelers is expected to bring economic benefits. Tourism, an important source of income for the country, is expected to make a comeback, although at a reduced scale.
Economic analyst Melinda Willams commented; “The tourism sector of New Zealand has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. Reopening the borders to travelers will not bring overnight success, but it will offer cautious optimism to the industry and help stimulate some economic activity in the coming months.”

Government support

The New Zealand government is providing support to the tourism sector in an effort to boost the economy. Prime Minister Ardern has allocated $280 million for ‘Tourist Boost’ to keep the industry afloat. Government-run marketing campaigns such as ‘Come to the Land of the Kiwis’ are also helping to attract more travelers to the country.

New Zealand Quarantine-Free Entry Criteria

Late July 2020, the New Zealand government relaxed some quarantine entry rules for travellers from Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the United States. A traveller from any of these countries must meet the following criteria in order to enter New Zealand without quarantine:

  • A Negative PCR test result from an approved lab in their country of departure within 72 hours of arrival.
  • A pre-departure online health declaration.
  • Committed to providing contact details and health information online for contact tracing.
  • Regulated arrival and airport transfer with specified transport.
  • Travel by private transport to final destination.

Criteria for visitors from Other Countries

Travelers from countries other than Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the United States must meet similar criteria as above, however, they must arrive on a non-stop flight and travel in a regulated manner with restrictions on the type of transport. Moreover, these travelers must undertake a 14-day isolation at an approved hotel in New Zealand.

Public Reception to the Relaxed Travel Rules

The easing of travel rules has been welcomed by many citizens of New Zealand, who are now looking forward to family reunions and business trips with various countries. Many have faith that the government will continue to pay strict attention to keeping the virus at bay, providing the necessary support to the local economy.

Strict Compliance to Rules

The government of New Zealand is ensuring strict compliance of the relaxed rules for the safety of all New Zealanders. Any traveler found deviating from the travel requirements shall be fined heavily and deported immediately.

Public Opinion on Traveller Entry into New Zealand

Public opinion in New Zealand on the relaxed travel rules is mostly divided between those who agree that loosening the travel restrictions will help revive the economy and those who are wary of the potential health risks involved. According to a survey conducted in July, of the people who responded, 74% were in favor of the policy, while the remaining 26% were opposed.

Education and Awareness

The New Zealand government has launched several campaigns to educate and raise awareness among travelers and citizens. These campaigns involve online training programs and videos about the virus and challenges associated with quarantine and safe travel.

Public Health Priorities

Public health is the top priority of the New Zealand government, with Prime Minister Arden regularly reminding citizens that the fight against COVID-19 is by no means over. Even with the eased travel restrictions, the government is relying on the adherence of the citizens to contain the spread of the virus and to mitigate risks of a potential second wave.

Conclusion

New Zealand is cautiously allowing international travelers, with citizens and travelers alike urged to obey all government-mandated health and safety rules. The government and citizens are keeping a close eye on the situation and monitoring the effects of the eased restrictions. It remains to be seen whether or not the relaxed restrictions and initiatives by the New Zealand government will bring positive benefits to the economy and the citizens in the longer term.

Diana Booker

Diana D. Booker is a freelance writer and editor based in Auckland, New Zealand. She has over 20 years' experience writing and editing for various publications. Diana is passionate about telling stories that capture the spirit of the country she loves and enjoys exploring its unique culture and landscape.

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