The change will see travellers from those countries and Tokelau who have the right to reside permanently in New Zealand and people covered by border exceptions, from 8 November.
“Travellers must be fully vaccinated, unless they are New Zealand citizens. RSE workers are currently required to have at least one dose, and will be required to be fully vaccinated from 1 January 2022,” said Covid-19 response Minister Chris Hipkins today.
“Due to the low risk in these countries, travellers will not need to provide a negative test before leaving or isolate on arrival in New Zealand.
“Standard QFT requirements will remain in place – that is, the requirement for passengers to confirm they meet health and eligibility requirements, and to complete Nau Mai Rā. The full list of requirements will be on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.
“I thank the governments of these countries for their cooperation, which has led to us reaching this positive step in reconnecting our people, and the horticulture industry for the initial successful trial of QFT with Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu.
“The existing quarantine free travel arrangements with the Cook Islands and Niue will be maintained.
“The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve rapidly, both here and abroad. We need to move quickly to make sure we’re minimising the risks we face in the best way possible. We will, as we always have, step through these changes carefully.
Hipkins said stopping Covid-19 at the border had been a priority and New Zealand's ability to do so had led to levels of freedom over the past year and a half which were the envy of many other nations.
"As a country we owe a massive vote of thanks to our front-line MIQ and border workers," he said.
Hipkins said in the meantime, the message to all New Zealanders was very simple - get vaccinated.
Photo RNZ Caption: Covid-19 response Minister Chris Hipkins