New Zealand’s borders yesterday fully opened for the first time since they abruptly snapped shut to keep COVID-19 out in March 2020.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the nation was “open for business” after the final stage of the phased reopening, which began in April, was completed on Sunday night.
Visitors from around the world are once again allowed into New Zealand, including maritime arrivals, those on student visas and those from non-visa waiver countries, such as China and India.
The reopening was “an enormous moment” Ardern said yesterday in a speech at the China Business Summit.
“It’s been a staged and cautious process on our part since February, as we, alongside the rest of the world, continue to manage a very live global pandemic, while keeping our people safe,” she said.
“New Zealanders are hosts. Manaakitanga [hospitality] streams through our veins and we open our arms to tourists and students, including from China, which prior to 2020 was New Zealand’s largest source of international students, and second-largest source of tourists,” she said. “For those looking to make their journey here, haere mai, we welcome you.”
Cruise ships and foreign recreational yachts would also be allowed to dock at the country’s ports.
New Zealand Minister of Tourism Stuart Nash said the return of cruise ships — whose guests spent NZ$365 million (US$231 million onshore a year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic — would be a big boost for local economies.
“Most cruise visits are during the warmer months of October to April... It will be full steam ahead for the industry, who can plan with certainty for the rest of the year and beyond,” Nash said in a statement.
Tourism operators, businesses and educational providers have welcomed the news, despite predictions from Immigration New Zealand that visitors are more likely to trickle — than flood — in over the next few months.
“I think it’s safe to say we’re not expecting the same level of demand we saw pre-COVID. That’s probably for a number of reasons,” Immigration New Zealand head Simon Sanders told Radio New Zealand.
“We know that China, who’s a larger visitor visa-required country, is still subject to a range of travel restrictions so we’re not expecting large demand from there, at least initially,” he said.
He encouraged students who have offers of study to apply immediately for their visas, and urged those looking to study in the country next year to hold off for a couple of months “so we can assure that those that need to arrive this year will be able to do so.”
The full reopening comes as New Zealand is sitting within the top seven countries in the world for average daily confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, Johns Hopkins University data showed.
A University of Auckland study released last week warned that the border reopening could see foreign-seeded COVID-19 cases rise four-fold — and that could put further strain on an already creaking health system.
RE-EDUCATION: The ambassador to Australia told reporters that he understood there ‘might be a process for the people in Taiwan to have a correct understanding of China’ China’s ambassador to Australia yesterday said that Beijing is prepared to use “all necessary means” to prevent Taiwan from being independent, saying there can be “no compromise” on its “one China” principle. Chinese Ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian (肖千) repeatedly told the National Press Club in Canberra that the US was to blame for the recent escalation in tensions, adding that China’s decision to launch ballistic missiles in live-fire exercises in response to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was “legitimate and justified.” Xiao said that after a “good start” with the new government of Australian Prime Minister
PROPAGANDA LEAFLETS: Seoul voiced ‘strong regret’ as Kim’s sister threatened to eradicate South Korean authorities for sending the virus across the border North Korean leader Kim Jong-un suffered from a “high fever” during a recent COVID-19 outbreak, his sister Kim Yo-jong said yesterday, as she vowed to “eradicate” South Korean authorities if they continued to tolerate propaganda leaflets the regime blames for spreading the virus. Kim Yo-jong blamed “South Korean puppets” for sending “dirty objects” across the border in leaflets carried by balloons, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. The revelation of her brother’s illness marked an unusual admission for a regime that rarely comments on the leader’s health — and then only to show that he shares the struggles of
Screams from soldiers being tortured, overflowing cells, inhuman conditions, a regime of intimidation and murder. Inedible gruel, no communication with the outside world and days marked off with a home-made calendar written on a box of tea. This is what conditions are like inside Olenivka, a notorious detention center where dozens of Ukrainian soldiers burned to death late last month, said a former prisoner of the camp outside Donetsk in the Russian-occupied east of Ukraine. Anna Vorosheva — a 45-year-old Ukrainian entrepreneur — gave a harrowing account to the Observer of her time inside the jail. She spent 100 days in Olenivka
A landmark sexual harassment case in China yesterday returned to court after an earlier ruling dealt a blow to the country’s fledgling #MeToo movement. Zhou Xiaoxuan (周曉璇) stepped forward in 2018 to accuse state TV host Zhu Jun (朱軍) of forcibly kissing and groping her during her 2014 internship at the broadcaster. While the case of Zhou, now 29, inspired many others to share their experiences of sexual assault publicly and sparked a social media storm, a court ruled last year there was insufficient evidence to back her allegation. Zhou appealed, and returned to court for another hearing yesterday in Beijing. “I still feel