Due to the current Omicron outbreak, the New Zealand government has postponed the planned commencement of quarantine-free travel for its citizens and residents until the end of February.
The government had previously declared that fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens would be permitted to go to Australia and return without being subjected to a two-week quarantine beginning on January 16.
Meanwhile, double-jabbed Kiwis will be able to come home from anywhere in the world beginning February 13 under a system identical to Australia’s.
However, due to Omicron variant concerns, this relaxation of border restrictions has been postponed until at least the end of February.
Considering the delayed easing of border restrictions, Air New Zealand has been forced to cancel over 120 flights through to the end of February – largely trans-Tasman services.
Over 27,000 passengers are affected by cancellations, and the airline will reach out directly to impacted customers.
Air New Zealand chief executive officer Greg Foran said the news would be tough for many New Zealanders who had planned to jump across the pond for a holiday in January or reunite with family.
COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said, “All of the evidence so far points to Omicron being the most transmissible COVID-19 variant yet.
“There’s no doubt this is disappointing and will upset many holiday plans, but it’s important to set these changes out today so they can have time to consider those plans.”
New Zealand has also already declared that beginning on April 30, double-jabbed tourists from around the world will be accepted back into the country for the first time since the pandemic began. It is unclear whether this date will be moved back as well.
When borders open to fully vaccinated New Zealanders, all visitors will be required to take a COVID test upon arrival and self-isolate for seven days before entering the community. Before departure, pre-flight testing will also be required.
Since November 1, fully vaccinated New Zealanders have been permitted to travel to Australia without entering a two-week quarantine; however, New Zealand has yet to reinstate the two-way travel bubble for Australians.
Before boarding their trip, all New Zealand nationals and residents returning to the country before the end of February will be required to acquire a space in the country’s government-managed quarantine and isolation facilities (MIQ).
Customers making future Air New Zealand bookings will need to confirm a MIQ spot before booking their ticket home.
The airline stated that it will continue to operate a limited timetable from New Zealand to Australia but that it will consolidate its schedule and only operate out of Auckland.