COVID-19: Government set to bring border reopening dates forward to April for tourists

Tourists will be able to pack their bags and make their way to New Zealand much sooner than expected, with the next phases of the border reopening set to be brought forward. 

Newshub understands the border reopening plan will be brought forward to April.

It’s understood the reopening will still be done in phases, with Australian tourists allowed in first starting from mid-April. 

Tourists from other countries that New Zealand has visa waiver arrangements with, like the United Kingdom and the United States, will be able to come here within weeks after Australians are allowed in, followed by visitors from all other countries. 

It is understood the new brought-forward dates of the next phase of New Zealand's border reopening will be announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday. 

The timetable for the border reopening has been brought forward dramatically from the dates originally announced by Ardern at the beginning of February. 

Travellers from Australia were originally scheduled to be allowed into the country without self-isolation in July, but no specific date was given. 

Visitors from other countries from around the world were scheduled to be allowed in from October. 

Tourists have essentially been banned from the country since March 2020, when COVID first hit our shores and saw our borders shut. 

They re-opened briefly for the trans-Tasman bubble in 2021 when Australians could enter but closed quickly when the Delta outbreak started in August. 

The anticipated new dates for the border reopening come after New Zealand recorded two consecutive days of an increase in COVID cases, which ended a streak of five days of a reduction in cases. 

On Tuesday, New Zealand recorded 21,616 new COVID cases with 960 people in hospital, 22 in ICU and two deaths. 

Cases at the border have been in stark contrast to infections in the community. 

New Zealand is currently averaging 18.1 COVID cases a day in Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) over the last seven days with a high of 23 cases last Friday but MIQ has been dramatically scaled back since Kiwis could arrive isolation-free from last week. 

The current seven day rolling average of community cases is 19,226 while there are 193,108 active cases, which are infections identified in the past 10 days and not yet classified as recovered. 

Cabinet will also this week consider "changes" to COVID-19 vaccine passes and mandates, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. "Over the course of this week and next, Cabinet will be considering the changes we've been discussing on mandates, vaccine passes, and the COVID Protection Framework," Ardern said at her post-Cabinet press conference. "We'll look to make announcements on these decisions next week."