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New Zealand April reopening plan ‘too late’

Education stakeholders have suggested the plan to open New Zealand borders from April 2022 places the country's providers at a competitive disadvantage.
November 25 2021
2 Min Read

New Zealand has said that fully vaccinated foreign nationals will be permitted to travel to New Zealand from April 30, 2022, but international education stakeholders worry the plan places the country’s providers at a competitive disadvantage, with other destinations opening earlier.

International students will be included in the third step of the border opening plan, behind fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residence-class visa holders from Australia from January 17 and citizens and residence-class visa holders from other countries (not including Very High-Risk countries) from February 14.

Indonesia, Fiji, India, Pakistan and Brazil will be removed from the Very High-Risk classification in early December 2021, while Papua New Guinea will continue to be classified as Very High-Risk.

“It’s very encouraging that as a country we are now in a position to move towards greater normality,” Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said.

Managed isolation and quarantine requirements will be removed for travellers that have proof of full vaccination a negative pre-departure test, test on arrival and a final test before entering the community after self-isolation for seven days.

They will also have to provide a passenger declaration about travel history.

“This news is a great boost for the international education sector,” Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao chief executive Grant McPherson said.

“We will keep education providers and international students up to date as we learn more on the detail of how the changes will work,” he said.

However, English New Zealand noted that, with Australia opening from December 1, there is a risk that New Zealand will permanently lose market share.

“The problem is that we’re so much behind everybody else and New Zealand will just, I think, permanently lose market share to the rest of the world because of how slow we have been to act,” English New Zealand chair Darren Conway told RNZ.

“We’re now going to be the last of the traditional international education countries that will be still closed”

“We’re now going to be the last of the traditional international education countries that will be still either closed to international students or requiring students to come through managed isolation,” Universities New Zealand chief executive Chris Whelan added.

“It’s great to have the date at the end of April for reopening but it’s still going to put us at least six months behind every other country,” he said.

“These settings will continue to be reviewed against the risk posed by travellers entering New Zealand,” Hipkins added, with further details on how self-isolation will be implemented set to be released in December 2021.

“There continues to be a global pandemic with cases surging in Europe and other parts of the world, so we do need to be very careful when reopening the border.”

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