New Zealand is “quite a way” to make changes to managed isolation requirements for vaccinated travelers entering the country, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.
The Arrivals Hall at Auckland Airport. Source: Getty
He said it is unlikely that changes will happen this year or early next year, such as lowering the MIQ stay from 14 days.
Some countries around the world are testing or considering shorter MIQ times for Covid-19 vaccinated citizens or travelers returning.
When asked today whether New Zealand is considering a reduced MIQ stay for vaccinated people, Hipkins said he wasn’t sure there would be a “magic point where that would happen”.
“We are still a long way from that.
“Certainly this year people will be in MIQ for 14 days, probably early next year as well, but we haven’t made any hard decisions about that.”
On what MIQ might look like for vaccinated travelers in the future, Hipkins said several options could be considered.
“I don’t want to put a timeline on this, but it could include things like alternative isolation options, like people going into isolation at home when they get back to the country.
“But that’s still a long way off, it’s not going to happen this year I don’t think, and certainly (not) early this year. I imagine things will continue pretty much the same way they are now.”
In the coming weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will advise on the “proposed way forward” of Covid-19.
Ardern said last week that given the amount of evidence and research emerging, New Zealand’s “broad plans” will be updated regularly.
Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said restrictions at the border “will be with us for quite some time as the pandemic continues around the world”.
“But that doesn’t mean it will remain as restrictive as it is now.”
Asked today about the possibility of vaccine passports, which could be an official document to prove immunization against Covid-19, Hipkins said discussions were “very active”.
“A vaccine passport can do more than just vaccines, it can also provide testing information.
“The sooner we can get to a health passport that can be digitally verified, including a person’s vaccine history and testing history, the better.
“It’s certainly possible we’ll see that happen before the end of the year. What that means for our MIQ, that’s going to take longer to work through.”
Australia decided to cut its international arrivals by half after the Covid-19 outbreaks, in addition to a trial for some vaccinated passengers to complete their isolation at home. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also said the advice he had been given showed that seven days of isolation for a vaccinated passenger was stronger than 14 days of isolation for an unvaccinated traveller.
Canada has introduced several rules for most fully vaccinated citizens who can skip isolation but must prove they have been vaccinated and undergo a test on arrival.