(Wellington) New Zealand will fully reopen its borders in early August, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Wednesday, ending some of the toughest anti-COVID-19 border measures in the world.
As of July 31, 11:59 p.m., borders will be fully open to the world, two months ahead of schedule, ending the measures that came into effect in March 2020 to combat the pandemic.
“New Zealand is now fully open for business,” Ms Ardern said.
While the archipelago has recorded one of the lowest coronavirus-related fatality rates in developed countries, voices have been raised to denounce measures that lack flexibility and which have weighed on economic growth.
For much of the pandemic, all people arriving from abroad had to undergo a two-week quarantine in government-run hotels guarded by the military.
Until now, only New Zealand citizens and nationals of countries with visa-free agreements could travel to New Zealand. The rest of the world having to wait until October.
Ms Ardern said on Tuesday that the date for the full opening of borders was brought forward by more than two months as part of a series of announcements aimed at reviving the economy, including the tourism sector.
“This will be good news for families, businesses and migrants. It also allows time for airlines and cruise lines to prepare to return to New Zealand during the peak spring and summer periods,” according to my head of government.
New Zealand welcomed 3.9 million visitors in 2019 and the tourism sector was worth more than NZ$16 billion ($13 billion) annually.