Ardern says some border reopening dates could be brought forward

Source: 1News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government is looking to bring forward some of the country's border reopening dates.

At the moment, fully vaccinated travellers from Australia, those from visa waiver countries, those who already hold a valid visitor visa and travellers with an Accredited Employer Work Visa can enter the country by July.

The border is also pegged to fully reopen to visitors from anywhere around the world from October.

Ardern told Breakfast on Monday: "We're looking to bring those forward because we believe we can safely do so. We'll be looking to make announcements on the timeframes for that this week."

Tourism operators around the country have been calling for the border to reopen sooner than October.

Ardern went on to say: "October was the latest for the final phase of reopening and so it was really from mid this year that we were seeing tourism and tourists really start to begin again. It will be earlier than that."

The arrivals area at Auckland Airport.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in February the October border reopening date would be kept under constant review.

Ardern told Breakfast: "We've already said the point that we're coming off the peak of Omicron, when we start to see hospitalisations normalise, that pressure on our hospital system ease, is when the experts have said it would be possible to reopen the borders more widely.

"But we'll be making the announcements this week on what exactly those dates look like."

Passenger plane (file picture).

Professor Michael Plank of Te Pūnaha Matatini told Breakfast ahead of Ardern's interview: "Once we're sure we've seen that peak and our hospitalisations are coming down and our health system is coping, I think at that point what's happening at the border starts to become much less important and potentially we can look at bringing that October date forward much, much sooner and start to welcome back tourists much sooner than that.

"Once we're over the peak, there'll probably still be several thousand cases in the community per day for some time to come and so adding in a few hundred cases even from the border is not going to make a huge difference to that."