New Zealand set to mandate vaccination ahead of reopening

 Wednesday, October 6, 2021 

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New Zealand

New Zealand has decided to introduce a vaccine mandate for international travellers next month.  The country will require non-citizens to be fully vaccinated in order to enter the country, starting November 1.

However, children under 17, New Zealand citizens and people who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons are exempted from the restrictions. On the other hand, Auckland has not planned to reopen its borders to most international travel until at least 2022. 

Initially, the new rule will only apply to a limited number of travellers. Travel has remained severely limited in the country since March 2020, with those who aren’t residents or citizens needing a “critical purpose” to enter.

Most travellers will still need to complete a 14 day quarantine period upon arrival next month and show a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of their first international flight. 

New Zealand COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement that most visitors are already vaccinated, but the mandate aims to provide an extra layer of protection at the border. He mentioned that even a single case presents a risk.

He further said that high and wide-spread vaccination rates will mean more freedoms, fewer restrictions, and the day-to-day confidence that protection from the virus brings.  Air New Zealand also announced that starting February 2022, all passengers taking the carrier must be fully vaccinated.

Air New Zealand’s CEO Greg Foran said that mandating vaccination on our international flights will give both customers and employees the peace of mind that everyone onboard meets the same health requirements as they do. He also mentioned that there might be some people who will disagree with the move but said that it will be the right thing to do to protect people, customers and the wider New Zealand community.

Entry requirements are set to ease next year as the country reopens its borders to “low risk” countries. The exact timing of the reopening is not clear, and New Zealand has yet to publish a list of countries it considers low risk. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement that the country’s ultimate goal is to get to quarantine-free travel for all vaccinated travellers.

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