Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said fully vaccinated tourists would be allowed into the country sooner than expected, with a final reopening date to be announced tomorrow.
Such travelers, originally from Australia and visa-exempt countries, can come MIQ-free from July onwards and visitors from anywhere in the world from October onwards.
Airlines and tourism groups have been worried more and more time tourism and hospitality businesses will suffer irreparable damage, especially if self-isolation requirements remain in place.
However, as the Omicron outbreak sharply outpaced the infection rate of new arrivals, the government dropped the self-isolation requirements for returning New Zealanders and impacted those in its decision on when to open further. is considering.
On Monday, 22 cases were reported at the border, which almost quadrupled despite a slight increase from before the change in MIQ at the end of February.
Meanwhile, the seven-day rolling average of community cases is 19,566.
Ardern said today that as Omicron’s peak approached, the risk profile of new arrivals had changed further and the government was considering moving those dates forward.
“We have come out of the pinnacle of Omicron, when experts have said it will be possible to reopen borders more comprehensively.”
She said they were working as quickly as possible to give certainty to the tourism industry and to factor in peak demand.
As case numbers continue to reopen for Australians ahead of the next school holidays around Easter, there appears to be a possibility.
Asked if he needed to be more cautious around Ommicron’s more infectious BA.2 subvariant, Ardern said it would have little effect because it was already highly prevalent here.
It comes as 15,540 new community cases of Covid-19 were reported on Monday, with the numbers in Auckland remaining on a downward trend, but schools across the country still feeling the effects of Omicron’s outbreak.
Two Covid-related deaths were reported and there were 952 people in hospital, including 19 in intensive care, with the virus.
The ministry has been asked to break down hospitalized people as “with Covid” and “due to Covid”, but the Herald did not have an answer by the time frame.
The total number of publicly reported Covid-19 related deaths now stands at 115.
The latest figures show that people who have not been vaccinated are over five times over-represented in hospitalization figures.
Meanwhile, the tourism industry is gearing up to reopen, with Tourism New Zealand launching a new advertising campaign.
Starting today, working holiday visa holders and some skilled workers can enter New Zealand without any self-isolation requirements.
Ann-Marie Johnson, spokeswoman for the tourism industry Aotearoa, said they would provide a welcome boost to the industry.
“Tourism was the first industry to be affected by the pandemic and will be the last to recover.
“We are pleased that the government has indicated that our borders are likely to open to international visitors as soon as possible and we look forward to seeing the new timeline that is expected to be imminent.”
Johnson said a timely reopening to Australian visitors for the duration of their April school holiday which includes Easter would be ideal.