Destinations around the world are lifting mask mandates and even vaccine requirements. And now a major milestone on the way to a full reopening of travel has been reached Down Under.
The government of New Zealand, which has maintained some of the world's tightest border restrictions since the start of the pandemic two years ago, announced today that vaccinated visitors from most countries, including the United States, will be welcomed back starting Sunday, May 1.
"We look forward to welcoming manuhiri [visitors], family and friends back in May,” said Tourism New Zealand chief executive René de Monchy in a press release. "New Zealand has plenty to offer international visitors from breathtaking landscapes, rare and remarkable wildlife to our rich culture and heritage; our people and place are what make us unique, and we look forward to sharing this with the world again."
The new reopening date is weeks earlier than the mid-2022 reopening originally expected. Australians will be allowed to visit New Zealand even earlier, starting April 12.
New Zealand will require tourists to prove they've been fully vaccinated and have obtained negative Covid-19 test results before travel to the country. Upon arrival at Auckland Airport, visitors will be given two more test kits, at no charge, which should be self-administered on the first and fifth or sixth days of their stays.
But after May 1 there will be no quarantine requirement for tourists who test negative, making it possible for travelers to actually start their vacations when they get off the plane.
Visit the New Zealand government's Covid-19 travel page for a full rundown of vaccine and testing requirements.
Right now there are nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Auckland. According to its press release, New Zealand expects nonstop flights from San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, and Honolulu to resume by the end of 2022.