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By The Way
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New Zealand drops all covid travel restrictions

As of Sept. 13, all travelers are welcome to New Zealand without testing or vaccine requirements

The bay and harbor in Tauranga, New Zealand. (iStock/Washington Post illustration)
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New Zealand has lifted all pandemic travel restrictions, including vaccination and testing requirements, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced this week.

Citing low case numbers and hospitalizations, expanded access to antiviral medicines and a “well vaccinated” population, New Zealand ended its COVID-19 Protection Framework that kept visitors away beginning in early 2020.

As of Sept. 13, travelers now have to complete only a New Zealand Traveler Declaration and be issued a travel pass before their flight, which they’ll present — either on paper on a mobile device — at their departure airport at check-in and at customs in New Zealand.

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Travelers are still encouraged to continue coronavirus testing on the first day of arrival and five days into their trip, although it’s no longer mandatory.

Those who test positive during their visit “should report that result, seek a PCR test, and tell testing staff they have recently been overseas,” according to the Ministry of Health’s latest guidelines. Once their positive case is confirmed, they’ll will be required to undergo a seven-day isolation period.

Along with travel restrictions, New Zealand has dropped its universal mask mandate, with the exception of health-care settings. Visitors may still encounter mask requirements at special events, marae (sacred Maori meeting grounds) or businesses at the discretion of the host or owner.

“In short, we now move on to a simple two requirements system of masks in healthcare settings and 7 days isolation for positive cases only,” Ardern said in the announcement.

The news comes ahead of the country’s peak tourism season, December through February.

“For the first time in two years we can approach summer with the much needed certainty New Zealanders and business need, helping to drive greater economic activity critical to our economic recovery,” Ardern said.

New Zealand began its incremental reopening in February, and started allowing all tourists and visa holders to enter the country as of July 31 with proof of vaccination and testing requirements.