Officials in New Zealand have confirmed the country will begin to reopen its borders in the coming weeks.
However, the process is not expected to be completed until October at the earliest.
Earlier plans to reopen the country were shelved as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spread around the world.
Borders have been closed, apart from a short-lived travel bubble with Australia, for nearly two years in response to the pandemic.
“With our community better protected we must turn to the importance of reconnection,” explained prime minister, minister Jacinda Ardern.
“Families and friends need to reunite.
“Our businesses need skills to grow.
“Exporters need to travel to make new connections.”
The border will initially open to vaccinated New Zealand citizens and visa holders coming from Australia, then from the rest of the world, and finally to all other vaccinated visitors.
Travellers will still have to self-isolate at home for ten days, but will no longer have to pass through space-limited managed isolation facilities, known as MIQ.
Fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travellers from Australia will be able to enter New Zealand without staying in MIQ from February 27th.
Two weeks later, they can come from all other countries.
Critical workers and skilled workers will be eligible to enter New Zealand from this date.
The working holiday scheme will also resume.
Ardern said the two-week gap will enable public health systems to adjust for the likelihood of more cases in the community, and will allow the border systems to “keep scaling up in the safest way possible”.
From April, 5,000 international students and other eligible temporary visa holders will be allowed to enter.
After that, the border opens to Australians and other travellers who do not require a visa to enter New Zealand.
All other international visitors will be allowed to enter New Zealand from October.
Image: Unsplash/James Coleman