Vaccinated travellers entering New Zealand will no longer need to self-isolate, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced at a press conference today. 

The end of self-isolation rules for travellers coming from Australia kicks in on Wednesday at 11.59pm. 

Vaccinated travellers will still need a negative test before flying to New Zealand, and a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) upon arrival, as well as a test on day five or six in the country, Ardern said after meeting with Cabinet ministers on Monday. 

Unvaccinated travellers will still need to enter Managed Isolation facilities upon arrival.

Travellers heading into the country will require a follow-up PCR test upon a positive Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), Ardern said.

“That's because our border will be the first place we will see any new variants. And so we need to keep whole genome sequencing these results to see what strains are entering the country.”

While the Government’s five-staged reopening of the borders is still in place, the dates have been updated.

The first step began today, February 28, for New Zealanders travelling from Australia.

The second group of travellers able to come to New Zealand are returning New Zealanders and eligible critical workers from the rest of the world. 

That was scheduled for March 13 but has been moved up to 11.59pm Friday, on March 4, Ardern said.

People coming to the country from Friday also do not need to self-isolate.

The next three steps are visa holders in April, Australian and visitors from visa-waiver countries by July, and all others by October.

Ardern said Cabinet “will soon consider bringing this forward”.

These decisions were based on the advice of the Covid-19 Public Health Advisory Group, Ardern said.

At the press conference, chair of the advisory group, professor David Skegg, said the removal of isolation was possible now because of a reduction of infected cases at the border.

But at the same time as instances of Covid-19 in the community had increased, he said. 

“It is important for all of us to remember that this pandemic is not over, or nearly over,” Skegg said. 

“The virus continues to mutate and personally, I will be surprised if we are still talking about the Omicron variant by the end of the year.”

Top Image: People embracing at the airport. (File photo) Photo: jacoblund/iStock

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