New Zealand’s border reopening plans have given renewed hope for the Warriors to return home in 2022.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern fronted the media on Thursday to reveal the five-step plan for the country to open their borders, as they look to return to ‘normal’ during the ongoing COVID pandemic.
The steps for NZ will be as follows:
- Feb 27: Returning Kiwis from Australia who are vaccinated will have to self-isolate – but won’t need a space in a Government-run managed isolation facility (MIQ). Critical workers in Australia will also be able to travel in.
- March 13: New Zealanders from the rest of the world will be able to return under similar conditions, alongside some critical workers, and their families. These first two stages include both citizens and permanent residents.
- April: non-citizens with visas – like international students and a wider swath of skilled workers – will be able to skip MIQ.
- No later than July: The country is expected to open up to non-citizens from visa-waiver countries – like Australia, the USA, and UK. Ardern emphasized that this could happen prior to July however, saying there was a “high-likelihood” things could move faster.
- from October: New Zealand would open up to the rest of the world and normal visa processing would resume.
At this stage, Kiwis returning from Australia or other exempt travelers will need to self-isolate for 10 days, which will likely drop to 7 days.
“Today I’m announcing that fully-vaccinated Kiwis and other currently eligible travelers from Australia, will be able to travel to New Zealand from 11.59pm on Sunday 27th February,” Ardern said.
“Instead of going into MIQ, they will be able to self-isolate. Step two, just two weeks later, fully-vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travelers from the rest of the world will also be able to travel into New Zealand without going through MIQ.
“At step two, there will also be an expanded border exemption for critical workers and skilled workers earning at least 1.5x the median wage, will also be able to enter New Zealand with highly-skilled workers’ family members who may have been separated from their loved ones. They will be able to self-isolate for a short period and then go about their business.
“While we will no longer require people to enter managed isolation, at this stage travelers will be asked to follow broadly the same requirements we have in New Zealand for people who are deemed close contacts.
“Returning New Zealanders will need to self-isolate for 10 days, but as the isolation period drops for close contacts here in New Zealand, so to will returnees only need to isolate for 7 days.”
This means that a permanent return for the Warriors – who have been forced to play away from home for the past two seasons – remains unlikely for the first half of the season.
But the club may be able to return to NZ in stage four, which will begin by July or potentially earlier.
“Step four will see the biggest expansion yet, and includes our Australian cousins and all other travelers who can normally enter New Zealand without a visa,” Ardern said.
“This stage is likely to begin when we hit much larger case numbers than we have now. We anticipate this stage will begin no later than July.
“I want to place strong emphasis on this being the latest we expect this to begin – there is a high likelihood of this coming forward.”
NZ Minister of Sport Grant Robertson confirmed the Warriors would be able to come home.
NZ International Border Announcement
“The Breakers and the Warriors, does this mean they can come home now?”
“Yes it does*” – Minister of Sport Grant Robertson
— Vodafone Warriors (@NZWarriors) February 2, 2022
It would be a huge boost for the side, who have struggled with bubbles and living away from home in 2020 and 2021.