New Zealand will fully reopen its borders at the end of July, according to a government announcement on Wednesday that noted the move comes two months ahead of schedule in an attempt to speed up the nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
“New Zealand is in demand and now fully open for business,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement, adding that the move will increase the country’s pool of available labor and spur the recovery of the tourism sector.
New Zealand, an island nation that is home to about 5 million people, closed its borders in March 2020. It implemented one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, along with one of the toughest coronavirus border restrictions. The country reached a high vaccination rate, and emerged from the pandemic as a global success story, with only 17 deaths per 100,000 people despite a recent spike, according to The New York Times database.
Last month, the country opened its doors to vaccinated Australian tourists and last week, it also allowed in vaccinated visitors from more than 60 countries that do not require a visa for short periods, including much of Europe but not China or India.
Starting on July 31 at 11:59 p.m., the country will welcome tourists from all countries, and rev up what was an important component of the country’s economy before the pandemic, attracting more than 3 million visitors and employing nearly 230,000 people. “We will be fully open to the world,” New Zealand’s tourism minister Stuart Nash said in the statement.
The government will also introduce simplified immigration processes, extend visas for thousands of workers, and allow cruise ships to return to the country with the opening of the maritime border.