All foreign nationals entering New Zealand will need to be fully vaccinated from November 1, the government announced Sunday.
Travelers will have to declare their vaccination status when registering with the country’s isolation system and provide proof of vaccination or exemption to their airline and customs officers on landing, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement.
“To further reduce the possibility of the virus getting through our border, we are introducing the requirement for air travellers aged 17 and over, who are not New Zealand citizens, to be fully vaccinated to enter New Zealand,” he said.
The announcement came as New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern placed a new region outside Auckland under a five-day lockdown, as the country’s Covid-19 Delta variant outbreak spreads.
Those arriving in New Zealand will still have to spend 14 days in quarantine, and all travelers — except those from exempt locations — will still need to show a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours of their first scheduled international flight.
“Most people coming to New Zealand tell us they are already vaccinated. This requirement makes it formal and will provide an extra layer of protection at the border,” Hipkins said.
New Zealand’s flagship airline Air New Zealand also announced Sunday that all passengers on its international flights would need to be vaccinated from February 2022 onwards.
Any of the 22 Covid-19 vaccines approved by a government or approval authority are acceptable, and the last dose must have been administered at least 14 days before arrival.
Those subject to the requirements who fail to show proof of vaccination could face a fine of up to $4,000, according to the press release. Some seasonal workers will be exempt due to existing requirements, as will refugees.
New Zealand reported 33 new local Covid-19 cases on Sunday, with 32 in the largest city of Auckland and one in the Waikato region, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said in a press conference on Sunday.
Ardern said parts of the Waikato region (Reglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia and Hamilton City) will be under Level 3 lockdown from 11:59 p.m. Sunday local time for the next five days.
Under Level 3 restrictions, working and learning from home is strongly encouraged if possible, public facilities must close and events cannot go ahead, and travel is restricted, according to the government’s official Covid-19 website.
Bloomfield also reported another case in the Waikato region on Sunday, which will be included in Monday’s figures.
The two cases in the Waikato region are “known associates or contacts,” Bloomfield said, but health officials have yet to establish a link to the Auckland outbreak.
Auckland is currently under a Level 3 lockdown, and Ardern added that officials will meet on Monday to discuss plans to lift lockdown restrictions in the city.
“We are doing everything that we can to keep cases confined to Auckland and managing them there,” Arden said. She further urged unvaccinated New Zealanders to book their doses, saying higher vaccination rates would mean fewer restrictions.
Sunday’s new local cases bring the total number of community cases from the current outbreak to 1,328, according to New Zealand’s health ministry.
More than 3 million New Zealanders — or 79% of the population — have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while nearly 2 million have received both doses, according to the health ministry.
The country initially went into a strict three-day lockdown in mid-August after a locally transmitted case of coronavirus was detected for the first time since February.
The rest of New Zealand remains on Alert Level 2, or low risk of community transmission, meaning most restrictions have been lifted — although limitations on numbers at gatherings remain in place.