New Zealand has announced a phased reopening of its borders, as the country starts to ease some of the world’s toughest Covid restrictions.
Vaccinated citizens in Australia can go home from 27 February, while jabbed citizens elsewhere will be allowed in from 13 March, said PM Jacinda Ardern.
They will still have to self-isolate for 10 days but the mandatory state quarantine programme will be scrapped.
New Zealanders stranded
overseas have welcomed the re-opening.
The announcement comes after growing criticism of Wellington’s controversial closed-border policy to keep out the coronavirus.
New Zealand’s borders have been shut for nearly two years due to the pandemic.
In that period, the country of five million people has recorded 53 deaths and about 17,000 Covid cases – very low numbers compared to the rest of the world but while the closed border policy has been popular domestically, New Zealanders overseas said it had made it near impossible to go home.
The huge demand for hotel quarantine spots shut many Kiwis out.
“We have missed a lot of big life events such as weddings and funerals but more than anything just miss seeing family and friends,” said Joe Mulcare, who lives in Singapore.
“I’m really happy that I now have the opportunity to get home but have felt a lot of frustration and confusion over New Zealand’s halted approach when the rest of the world is moving on with opening up and co-existing with Covid.”
The difficulties faced by stranded New Zealanders was also highlighted this week by the case of a pregnant reporter, who said she had to turn to the Taliban to ask if she could give birth in Afghanistan, after her initial request to return home was rejected.