New Zealand Slams New Covid-19 Measures on Travellers

Published December 21st, 2021 - 09:46 GMT
Jacinda Ardern backtracks on New Zealand's reopening plan
An activist holds a picture of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stylised as a police mugshot during a protest march by the Freedom and Rights Coalition to demand an end to Covid-19 restrictions and mandatory vaccination in Christchurch on November 13, 2021. (Photo by Sanka Vidanagama / AFP)
Returning New Zealanders were set to self-isolate at home for a week from Jan 17

Tens of thousands of New Zealanders have been left heartbroken after their travel plans were ruined by Jacinda Ardern's decision to push back quarantine-free entry into the country to the end of Februrary. 

Fully-vaccinated Kiwis returning home from Australia were set to be allowed to self-quarantine for seven days from January 17.

All returning travellers will now have to quarantine in managed isolation rooms for ten days - up from the previous seven day limit. 

Travellers will also need to get a test within 48 hours of departure, instead of 72 hours. 

Many Kiwis hoping to return home in the New Year will have to delay their reunion plans as spaces in hotel quaratine are limited with tens of thousands of travellers having to fight for a spot. 

The country's Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the dramatic change had been made to protect New Zealanders amid the threat of the Omicron Covid-19 variant. 

Mr Hipkins said it would also give residents more time to get their booster shot, with the time between people getting their second dose and booster jab now pushed forward from six months to four months.

'Waiting till the end of February will increase New Zealand's overall protection and slow Omicron's eventual spread,' he said on Tuesday.

'There's no doubt this is disappointing and will upset many holiday plans, but it's important to set these changes out clearly today so they can have time to consider those plans.' 

This will mean just over 82 per cent of New Zealanders will be eligible for their booster shot by the end of February. 

The government also confirmed the rollout of vaccinations for children aged between five and 11 will begin on January 17. 

Mr Hipkins said vaccinations for this age group will not be mandatory. 

He added that evidence has pointed to Omicron being the 'most transmissible variant yet'.

'But experts still don't know how severe it is. So while it's sweeping the globe at a bewildering speed and appears to be the dominant variant, how sick it makes people and the impact it has on health systems is not yet fully understood,' he added.

It comes after New Zealand recorded 28 new Covid infections on Tuesday.

There are currently 22 cases from the Omicron variant.  

There are 57 cases in hospital. Of these, seven are in an intensive care or high dependency unit,' New Zealand's ministry of health said.

'Of the 10,320 cases in the current outbreak, 83 per cent (8,593) are not fully immunised. Of the 531 hospitalised cases in the current outbreak, 93% (495) are not fully immunised.

'For the purposes of this data, fully immunised means they received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 7 days before being reported as a case.'


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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