Editor’s Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on February 2.
(CNN) — If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.
New Zealand has become the poster child for how to deal with Covid-19. Its early lockdown and strict border measures mean it has suppressed the virus to an astonishing degree.
That success also means that it will likely be quite a while before most international travelers are allowed to visit.
What’s on offer
New Zealand’s landscape is the stuff of legend. Arthur’s Pass National Park, with its soaring peaks and deep valleys is ripe for “tramping,” the locals’ term for a good, long hike. Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach offer vast sea views from the tip of North Island. Meanwhile, indigenous Maori culture permeates every aspect of the country. Pick up an RV and it’s easy to find an empty corner of this magical country to explore.
Who can go
The rules are simple. Other than a few exceptions for partners, dependents and critical workers, only New Zealand residents and citizens are allowed into the country without first requesting to travel.
What are the restrictions?
New Zealand has maintained some of the toughest travel guidelines in the world since March. All arrivals, including New Zealand citizens, must undertake 14 days of mandatory quarantine and test negative for Covid-19 at the end of this period before entering the community.
Travelers coming from the United Kingdom or United States must also have a negative Covid-19 test result before boarding their flight.
On January 31, Australia ended its temporary suspension of the one-way travel bubble which allows travelers from New Zealand to Australia to fly to the states of New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory without having to quarantine.
Australia’s acting chief medical officer Michael Kidd has recommended that pre- and post-screening be implemented on flights from New Zealand into Australia for the ten days following the lifting of the suspension.
New Zealand travelers will still also have to spend 14 days isolating in a managed isolation and quarantine facility on their return.
What’s the Covid situation?
On January 24, 2021, New Zealand confirmed a community case of the new South African Covid-19 variant — the country’s first Covid-19 case in the community since November 2020. Until that point, all recent positives had come from inside managed isolation facilities.
After a handful of cases were found in Auckland in August after 102 days without a positive test, the city went back into a strict lockdown until October. The country’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has won plaudits for her handling of the crisis, in which only 25 people have died, with 2,307 cases overall.
What can visitors expect?
Those able to enter New Zealand will find life lived much as it was pre-pandemic. The country is currently at Alert Level 1, which means that the virus is contained. Mass gatherings are limited to 500, but while physical distancing is encouraged, it isn’t mandatory. Bars and restaurants are open, but contact tracing measures are in place.
The country’s Alert Levels go up to 4, at which point a stay-at-home order would be in place and education facilities would be closed.
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Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Maureen O’Hare contributed to this report
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