New Zealand said Tuesday it is pushing back its phased border reopening by about a month over concerns of the Omicron variant.
“Waiting till the end of February will increase New Zealand’s overall protection and slow Omicron’s eventual spread,” Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins said in a statement Tuesday.
“There’s no doubt this is disappointing and will upset many holiday plans, but it’s important to set these changes out clearly today so they can have time to consider those plans.”
Hipkins said New Zealand's Cabinet has agreed to a suite of other precautionary measures to keep Omicron out of the community. They include reducing the interval between a second Covid-19 vaccine dose and a booster shot from six months to four months and increasing the required length of stay for returning travelers from seven days to 10 days in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ).
“Currently, returnees do their final three days of isolation at home. Bringing those final three days back into MIQ reduces the risk of the virus entering the community,” Hipkins said.
Additional border protections include shortening the pre-departure test requirement from 72 hours to 48 hours before travel.
On Tuesday, New Zealand reported 28 new locally transmitted cases and five imported Covid-19 cases, according to its Ministry of Health.