New Zealand will remain closed to Australian travellers until at least April 30 2022, when the country will begin a "staged" re-opening to the rest of the world.
However, NZ COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has indicated that even fully-vaccinated international visitors will be required to undergo Covid-19 tests prior to their flight's departure and also upon arrival, and then need to 'self-isolate' for seven days, with a final negative test needed before entering the community.
Fully-vaccinated NZ citizens and residents in Australia will be allowed to return to New Zealand from January 17 without entering Government-arranged quarantine, with the same condition applying to Kiwis from all other countries as of February 14.
"A phased approach to reconnecting with the world is the safest approach to ensure risk is carefully managed," Hipkins told a news conference this afternoon.
"This reduces any potential impacts on vulnerable communities and the New Zealand health system."
Hipkins said the seven-day self-isolation period was designed to safeguard public health but would be subject to review.
"We will eventually reach a point where people will be able to move much more freely across the border and those periods of self-isolation won't be required," he said.
"We will keep that under constant review – we only want that self-isolation requirement in place for as long as it is justified on public health grounds."
The April 30 2022 reopening comes almost a year since Australia and New Zealand opened a quarantine-free 'trans-Tasman bubble' – a bubble which burst barely 12 weeks later following localised outbreaks of the Covid-19 Delta variant.
Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand have until recently pinned their hopes on a December restart for flights across the ditch.
Air New Zealand earlier this week cancelled more than 1,000 flights through to 31 December "due to recent statements by the New Zealand Government that quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand is unlikely to re-commence this year."
But the airline remains hopeful that the April 30 date for reopening New Zealand's international borders "to all customers globally can be brought forward."
"We can be ready before late April to fly visitors from around the globe and we're hoping New Zealand's success with vaccinations will see that decision reviewed and brought forward in the new year," noted the carrier's Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty.