Isolation rules as NZ prepares for border reopening
New Zealanders are set to be able to come home from Australia this month, and from the rest of the world two-weeks-later. For people who are vaccinated, they will need to head into their own isolation setup upon arrival.
Isolation requirements mean people would still have the same requirements as ‘close contacts’, needing to isolate for 10 days.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this was because it was “highly likely that they’ll come in contact with the highly transmissible Omicron variant on their journey”.
It would drop down to seven days once New Zealand’s Covid cases rise and the close contact isolation requirement changes.
“As the isolation period drops for close contacts here in New Zealand, as it does in phase two of our Omicron response, so too will returnees only need to isolate for seven days,” she said.
Household members during isolation
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins was asked about home isolation requirements during the last border announcement, and said other household members could come and go.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said that was still the case, with others allowed to leave and go about their lives.
Jacinda Ardern reveals NZ’s new border reopening dates
Travelling to place of isolation
Travellers could also travel domestically to their location of isolation – including air travel.
When asked about public transport, Ardern said New Zealanders “do tend to come in and be picked up on arrival and they will continue to do so”.
“At that point we do expect we will have Omicron cases in our community and we will be dealing with them on a daily basis.”
People would be given three rapid antigen tests when they arrive at the airport to take home.
They will need to be used on day 0/1 and on day 5/6 and the other will be a backup.
“If a positive result is returned at any point, returnees will be asked to get a follow up PCR test at a community testing station,” Ardern said. “That will help us to monitor any possible variants that may emerge. It will also help us assess when it’s safe to lift self-isolation requirements.”
Fines from $4000 up to $12,000 could be issued for those who do not comply with self-isolation requirements.
The future of MIQ and self-isolation
Only high risk and unvaccinated travellers will be required to go into MIQ.
“That means the Defence Force will begin the process of withdrawing from MIQ, with some hotels returning to traditional use to support the return of our tourists,” Ardern said.
Ardern said they would be continually monitoring the “need for and the value of self-isolation”.
“The strong advice from our public health officials is that we still need it to manage our way through Omicron, but there will be a time in the not too distant future when that will not be the case. For now though we must continue to heed the public health advice that has served us so well.”