Quarantine removed, self-isolation at home for arriving passengers

As New Zealand reconnects to the world, here are a few requirements

Image from Auckland International Airport Facebook

Venkat Raman
Auckland, February 22, 2022

Travellers arriving in New Zealand after 11.59 pm on Sunday, February 27, 2022, will receive a package containing Three Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), information and advice for their safety and protection. They would be required to self-isolate in their homes and do not have to enter a quarantine facility.

This constitutes the first stage of the Border Reopening Plan of the government.

The package and compliance will cover all arriving passengers including New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.

There is considerable excitement as New Zealand will be able to receive their loved ones (initially from Australia), who have been stranded across the Tasman for the past almost two years when the first lockdown was announced.

Two stages of opening

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern agreed that it would be ‘an extremely exciting experience.’

The first stage will allow New Zealanders and other eligible travellers from Australia to come into this country and go home without the need for managed isolation or quarantine.

The only requirement is that they should all be fully vaccinated.

The second stage, which will become effective on March 13, 2022, will allow anyone with valid visas from anywhere in the world to enter New Zealand. These will include people coming to work, enjoying a holiday or visiting their relatives and friends.

Skilled workers must earn at least 1.5 times more than the median wage.

Unvaccinated travellers will be required to undergo quarantine.

Ms Ardern said that travellers arriving in New Zealand will experience the familiar Airport Welcome with some additional requirements that will ensure the safety of all concerned.

“After baggage claim, they will be issued with the package containing three RATs, information and advice. This system is like to change over time and expert advice on the possibility of reducing the self-isolation period will be sought in due course,” she said.

Effects of self-isolation

Ms Ardern said that self-isolation will impact the productivity and functioning of industries and businesses and hence as much advance as possible needs to be given.

“But we also have to consider the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders. We have prioritised New Zealanders for self-isolation since they are more likely to stay here long term and hence will not be a barrier to them. We do need to get that balance right,” she said.

Based on the current indications, New Zealanders should be free of most restrictions within the next three to six weeks.

Ms Ardern said that unvaccinated travellers will be required to go into MIQ and some facilities will continue to house those unable to isolate themselves at home, but the Defence Force would no longer secure the facilities.

She said that the requirement for self-isolation for vaccinated travellers will be removed in not too distant a future and that despite the increasing number of Omicron cases, the rate of hospitalisation remained between 1% and 1.5%.

“But the scale is large, and it will grow. From February 24, 2022, GPs will be using RATs instead of PCR testing and these will be only for those who have been advised accordingly. The system is flexible. For instance, teachers can return to their schools after undergoing RAT if they have been a contact by not symptomatic,” she said.

 

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