June 4, 2023

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New Zealand's borders fully open after a long epidemic closure

New Zealand’s borders fully open after a long epidemic closure

FILE PHOTO – People prepare to go fishing from Aoraki Pier as the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown restrictions ease in Auckland, New Zealand, on November 10, 2021. REUTERS/Fiona Goodall

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand’s borders fully reopened to visitors from around the world on Monday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic closed them in March 2020.

New Zealand’s borders began to reopen on February 1 for New Zealanders and restrictions were gradually eased.

The reopening of the border ended last night with visitors requiring entry visas and those holding student visas, now allowed to return to New Zealand. New Zealand also now allows foreign cruise ships and pleasure yachts to dock in its ports.

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Most visitors arriving in New Zealand still need to be vaccinated against COVID and must take two COVID tests after arrival. However, there are no quarantine requirements.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday during a speech at the China Business Summit in Auckland that the eventual opening of the border was a monumental moment.

“It has been a phased and cautious process on our part since February as we, along with the rest of the world, continue to manage a very lively global pandemic, while keeping our people safe.”

International students have been an important contributor to New Zealand’s economy and education providers hope that reopening borders will boost schools and universities across the country.

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New Zealand Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said the return of cruise ships would also boost local industries.

“Most cruises take place during the warmer months from October to April, and summer is generally bumper tourism season. That means it’s going to be coming in full force in the industry,” Nash said.

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Lucy Kramer reports. Editing by Sandra Mahler and Michael Perry

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