throw open your shutters!
New Zealand will begin a phased easing of its COVID-related border restrictions starting this month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Thursday, per BBC News.
Beginning Feb. 27, fully-vaccinated New Zealand citizens, residents, and certain visa holders will be allowed in from Australia, and will not need to undergo a 10-day quarantine at a government-run facility, notes The Washington Post. Travelers will still need to self-quarantine, but they'll be allowed to do so at home.
Two weeks after that, the country will allow in vaccinated citizens from anywhere in the world, requiring they also complete the self-quarantine. By October, after nearly two years of shuttered borders, all pandemic travel restrictions should be lifted, per the Post. The full reopening plan has five stages, BBC notes.
"We must turn to the importance of reconnection," Ardern said of the eased restrictions. "Families and friends need to reunite. Our businesses need skills to grow. Exporters need to travel to make new connections."
Though the country's closed-border policy has kept deaths at a minimum, the intense restrictions have strained citizens, Ardern has previously conceded. The prime minister is currently facing dwindling approval ratings following a landslide re-election in 2020.
Approximately 93 percent of New Zealand residents aged 12 or older are fully vaccinated, adds the Post.