Australians will have to wait until next year to visit our trans-Tasman neighbors, in a decision that has drawn a lot of backlash from the tourism industry.
While fully vaccinated Kiwis in Australia can visit New Zealand from 17 January, non-citizens will have to wait until 30 April, and they will still need to self-isolate for a week.
New Zealand’s tourism industry has criticized the decision, claiming new border restrictions would keep the country “off the radar” and closed off from the rest of the world.
Justin Tighe-Umbers, co-chair for the New Zealand Aviation Coalition the decision means New Zealand will “be left behind”.
“With the latest reopening date, we are several months behind Australia and out of line with the rest of the world,” said Tighe-Umbers.
“International airlines planned schedules well in advance and New Zealand was nowhere to be seen.
“Every day that passes without certainty, is the day they choose to put their assets elsewhere.”
New Zealand Tourism Export Council Chief Executive Lynda Keene said she was also disappointed by the Ardern government’s decision.
“The impact on the international tourism business cannot be underestimated,” said Keene.
Its impact on the international tourism business cannot be underestimated
“Today’s decision will affect New Zealand’s international tourism offering over the next five years.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern defended the decision, saying she resisted calls to open the border to overseas-based Kiwis this year to allow New Zealanders to “celebrate the Christmas they deserve”.
“We have to make sure we move carefully,” he said.
COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said vaccination rates meant “the right time to start carefully reopening our borders” in a “progressive and safe way”.
There is still some prospect that April 30 could change based on public health advice, while Mr Hipkins hinted “bespoke” arrangements could be made to help international students.
The changes also end the trans-Tasman bubble, the release of quarantine-free travel for three months between COVID-free regions of Australia and New Zealand between April and July this year.
“The bubble is gone,” said Hipkins.
“Bubbles are constructs created when there was no COVID-19 in New Zealand or Australia. And that’s no longer the case on either side of the Tasman.”
BATTLE OF COVID NZ: IMPORTANT DATES
- November 29 – Cabinet meeting to determine the final parameters of the vaccine permit system
- December 3 – NZ switches to vaccine clearance system
- December 15 – Removal of the Auckland border for vaccination
- January 14 – Cook Islands allow quarantine-free travel from NZ
- January 17 – New Zealanders based in Australia can self-isolate on arrival
- 14 February – New Zealanders from other countries can self-isolate upon arrival
- April 30 – All international travelers can self-isolate upon arrival
– with AAP
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