New Zealand eyes quarantine-free travel for vaccinated from early 2022

New Zealand is piloting a new program in October to allow vaccinated workers to travel overseas and self-isolate at home, rather than going through the current mandatory 14-day government-managed isolation.

The pilot is part of a broader strategy to introduce quarantine-free travel to some vaccinated travellers from early 2022.

Vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries could avoid isolation entirely, while those from medium-risk would undertake some form of self-isolation or a shorter stay in a quarantine hotel.

Those returning from high-risk countries would still be required to 14 days of government-managed isolation

“Our ultimate goal is to get to quarantine-free travel for all vaccinated traveller,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“But we’re simply not in a position to fully reopen just yet.

“Just like the science, that path will not be absolute. But I think people have come to appreciate that while the future is uncertain and the plan can change – that doesn’t mean we can’t make one.”

Currently around a third of New Zealand’s adult population has had one dose while only 20 per cent were fully vaccinated.

However, Arden did warn that things would never return to normal.

“Just like after 9/11, the border will never be the same after Covid,” she said.

“Things can change, but that doesn’t mean we can’t adapt to them in a way that eventually feels normal again.”