New Zealand fully reopens borders after 2.5 years of pandemic

Sydney, Australia, Aug 1 (EFE).- New Zealand fully reopened its international borders to all visitors on Monday, two and a half years after they were sealed shut in an attempt to keep out Covid-19.

The measure includes tourists who require visas, international students and cruise ships and other vessels, the New Zealand government said in a statement.

New Zealand began a staggered reopening of its borders in February, with initial entry authorized for citizens returning from abroad.

Monday marked the last phase, with all visitors allowed to enter, albeit on the condition that they present a vaccination certificate or an approved exemption.

“Today’s change in border settings marks the final milestone for our reconnecting strategy. This is great news to the tourism industry and economy as we approach spring and summer with people from the Northern hemisphere booking their winter holidays,” Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said in the statement.

New Zealand sealed its borders in March 2020 and even prevented many of its own citizens returning by imposing a daily entry quota for limited quarantine rooms won via a lottery system in order to prevent the virus from spreading through the country.

In early February, authorities announced a five-stage reopening plan that began on Feb. 28, lifting the daily limit for returning nationals.

New Zealand, which has double vaccinated 96 percent of the target population, has accumulated more than 1.6 million cases and more than 1,500 deaths since the start of the pandemic. EFE


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