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New Zealand to ease border quarantine, but tourists still shut out

New Zealand will begin easing border quarantine rules from November, the government announced on Thursday, but tourists will still be shut out from the country.

Wellington, 28 October 2021 (dpa/MIA) — New Zealand will begin easing border quarantine rules from November, the government announced on Thursday, but tourists will still be shut out from the country.

The border has been shut to all but citizens and residents, with a few exceptions, since March 2020.

Those entering the country currently spend 14 days in government-run managed isolation and quarantine [MIQ] facilities.

However, from Nov. 14 that will drop to seven days followed by three days of home isolation, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.

Hipkins said more than 183,000 New Zealanders had been through MIQ and credited the system for “stopping cases at the border and allowing us to live life free of restrictions for the better part of 18 months.”

New Zealand hopes to switch to home isolation for vaccinated overseas arrivals in the first quarter of 2022, according to Hipkins.

However, he said that change would only happen once the country reached its 90 percent vaccination target.

About 87 percent of the country’s eligible population has received a first vaccine dose, while 72 percent of New Zealand residents are fully vaccinated.

Hipkins said no decision had been made about opening the border to tourists.

The first priority was for those who had a right to come into the country, including visa holders, he said.

“In the meantime, my message to all New Zealanders, whether they are here or abroad, is a very simple one. Get vaccinated. This is what will ensure we can all get back to doing the things we love and seeing those we love.”

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