No MIQ for Kiwis in Australia from Jan 17 as borders start to open

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

New Zealand is starting to open back up to vaccinated Kiwis next year, replacing the need for MIQ with a seven-day home isolation stay for people travelling from Australia in January, and from most other countries in February.

From January 17, 2022, fully vaccinated NZ citizens, residence-class visa holders and other travellers eligible under current settings can come from Australia to New Zealand without going through MIQ and instead go through seven days of home isolation.

From February 14, 2022, fully vaccinated NZ citizens, residence-class visa holders and other travellers eligible under current border settings can visit from most other countries, except those considered 'very high risk', and go through the home isolation requirement.

From April 30, 2022, New Zealand is set to open back up to international visitors in stages, possibly based on their visas, and will also need to go through isolation.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement today.

File image of an Air New Zealand plane.

He said the border would open in three steps and all travellers who were not required to go through MIQ would still need a negative pre-departure test, proof of vaccination, travel history declaration, a day 0/1 test, a final negative Covid test and seven days of home isolation.

"Retaining a seven-day isolate at home period for fully vaccinated travellers is an important phase in the reconnecting strategy to provide continued safety assurance," Hipkins said.

"These settings will continue to be reviewed against the risk posed by travellers entering New Zealand."

He said the seven day home isolation would remain as long as it was justified on public health advice.

Hipkins said the isolating travellers could mingle with other members of the household they were isolating in.

Earlier today, 1News revealed five countries are to be dropped from the 'very high risk' list in December, meaning New Zealand residents living in Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, India and Fiji will be able to fly directly into the country without the need to spend 14 days in a third country. The only country to stay on the list is Papua New Guinea.

Thousands of people from both sides of the Tasman took advantage of quarantine-free travel between April and August 2021, however it was littered with disruptions from states and territories as they grappled with Delta. It has been closed since then.

Currently, Australia has a variety of rules for New Zealand visitors for different states and territories. Some just require a negative PCR test and proof of vaccination against Covid-19, others require quarantine on top of the previous requirements, while some states are dependent on where in New Zealand the traveller is coming from.

New Zealand already halved the MIQ stay for fully vaccinated overseas arrivals to seven days with about three days home isolation.

From November 8, more people from low risk countries have been able to come into New Zealand without isolating, that includes Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and Tokelau.