"We acknowledge that it has been very tough. Families have been separated. People have found themselves having to shelter in places they did not expect to stay for prolonged periods of time. We are acutely aware of the impact that these restrictions have had on individuals’ lives and their livelihoods," Hipkins said.
According to the government's plan, all arriving citizens will still have to be isolated for at least seven days, at least for now.
Hipkins said he wanted to reduce the viral risk posed by incoming travelers by gradually opening the border.
Fully vaccinated New Zealanders will be able to return from Australia without quarantine from 16 January and from other countries after 13 February. Then, from April 30, the country will gradually open to tourists and other travelers.
As it was reported, in August, the streets of New Zealand were emptied after the government's decision to return to the lockdown, introduced for the first time in six months, to stop the spread of the contagious Delta strain.
The South Pacific imposed severe border restrictions when the pandemic broke out, effectively banning tourists. And all New Zealanders had to spend two weeks in a quarantine hotel run by the military after returning home from abroad. Sometimes the demand for quarantine numbers far exceeded the supply, so some displaced residents had to wait for months for vacancies.
In October, New Zealand authorities set a goal to vaccinate at least 100,000 people a day.