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yestravel Apr 30th, 2020 09:50 AM

Any News on How Long NZ Borders will Be Closed
Checking for a friend who has atrip in January to NZ. I had read they may keep the border closed for quite some time into 2021. Those of you local, do you hear any news? I know it's all subject to change at this point.

KayF Apr 30th, 2020 03:10 PM

My guess is, nobody knows. Not even the government. The situation is so fluid. There has been some vague talk about opening up international flights between Australia (where I am) and New Zealand but that is just talk at this stage. We still have strict distancing rules here, you cannot even travel between the states. From this weekend in Queensland we can travel up to 50km from home for a picnic or walk etc but you cannot mix with others. Those in NZ may know more but I think for a January trip, your friend will just have to wait and see.

Diamantina Apr 30th, 2020 05:10 PM

It's everyone's guess. Being local doesn't give me any extra insight. I can only suggest that your friend follows the news on the progression of the Covid-19 pandemic, the development of a vaccine, New Zealand news sources, and finally the NZ Govt. website on Border Closures and Exceptions. I'm reading as much as I can about the virus, without becoming overwhelmed and depressed by too much information. But I'm more concerned about safety than travel. I'm 65 and have asthma, my husband is even older and works as an anesthesiologist. Many of my friends and family members are in my age group or older, some have pre-existing conditions that would make them more vulnerable to a serious infection, and many of them work in health care in the U.S. I'm worried about them.

Many experts are predicting a second wave of the virus in the Northern Hemisphere's from fall through winter, so this may be a factor in your friend's freedom to travel.

On a positive note, many vaccines are now in development, with the most promising being developed by University of Oxford in partnership with Astra Zeneca. It's already been trialed on rhesus monkeys. It next moves into human trials. If successful, there will be still be issues with safety, efficacy and the ability to widely distribute it. Keep in mind the current flu vaccine is only 45% effective. Dr. Anthony Fauci has said thinks it’ll take around eighteen months to develop a coronavirus vaccine, but AstraZeneca's chief executive Pascal Soriot is optimistic about having a vaccine available for limited use by the end of the year (on announcement of this, AstraZeneca's share price moved 1.4% higher).

Your friend can read more about vaccine development at "Gates Notes". Bill Gates, who's spent much of fortune and energy on public health issues, warned of a threat of a pandemic in 2015 TED talk.
More about it here.

On March 30, when asked if the borders would stay close until there was a vaccine, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it would likely be until there is a vaccine or herd immunity which meant 95 per cent of the population had been exposed to the virus.

NZ's Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has suggested a Trans Tasman bubble to boost tourism between Australia and New Zealand but the Prime Minister is proceeding with caution, and continually reminds us, "We are not out of the woods yet."

Experts are still learning much about this virus.They're not even sure if those who have had Covid-19 and recovered can be re-infected. Nor are they sure how long those who've had it will be protected by their antibodies.

Signing off now to watch the 1 p.m. Covid-19 news update.

yestravel May 2nd, 2020 07:27 AM

Thanks to you both. I realize its all a guess, but sometimes locals have a better sense of where things are headed. NZ news is not something that gets followed very closely in the US other than how well your PM is handling the virus. Of course, we follow if very closely. My friend and I both spent our careers at the NIH and are very familiar with Tony Fauci and his work as well as the course of vaccine development and therapeutics. Your citation of March 30 is what I had heard and had mentioned to her.
Thanks for the NZ sites which I will pass on.
Stay safe and stay well.

Diamantina May 3rd, 2020 04:53 PM

I wish I had more information for you and your friend.

As you can see, even though the Prime Minister stated that borders would likely remained closed until a vaccine was available or 95% immunity had been reached, the govt. is already considering opening its borders to Australia beforehand and there is great pressure to do so as New Zealand's economy has become so reliant on tourism, with the greatest numbers of overseas visitors coming from Australia (and no doubt Kiwis would also enjoy being able to travel to Australia). There was even mention that this TransTasman bubble could include Singapore (this was before large numbers of its migrant workers became infected with Covid-19). But many details will have to be worked out. Nothing's set in stone, the situation changes constantly. Reportedly, EU countries are considering a similar idea of issuing Covid-19 passports that would, "give a green light to tourists from EU countries that already have the pandemic fairly under control".

Also, NZ general elections are set for September 19, 2020 (though it might be delayed). Depending on the outcome, border policy might change. Who knows?

Just another guess, but I think more accurate and reliable testing methods that return faster results could be a game changer. Right now, there are too many false negatives, for example, NZ's first Covid-19 patient, who returned to the country from Iran on Feb. 26, tested negative twice, before his third positive test. Again, we'll have to wait and see.

We also don't know which airlines will still be offering flights from the U.S. to New Zealand in January, how often they'll fly, what routes they'll fly, and so on. Everything's "up in the air".

One thing I can suggest is your friend set a Google news alert for "New Zealand border policy" or "New Zealand international arrivals", something along these lines. Though maybe not yet.

If NZ's borders open to Australian visitors, and if school holiday schedules return to what they were before the Covid-19 pandemic, January could be a busy month as NZ domestic travelers and Australian visitors revitalize popular holiday spots.

Thanks for your years of service to the NIH. I hope they finally get the funding they need and deserve, or at least a substantial increase.

Today, for the first time since the lockdown began, there were no new confirmed cases in New Zealand. There are seven patients with Covid-19 being treated in NZ hospitals and none are in ICU. Good news. I hope this positive trend continues.

yestravel May 4th, 2020 01:39 PM

NZ has done such a fantastic job. I wish I could say the same about our feckless leader. Its all very depressing for US citizens. I think mulling over potential trips is some folks way of getting thru this nightmare. I understand for others they dont want to even think about future travel.
I do appreciate your comments.

Diamantina May 7th, 2020 12:18 AM

As an U.S. citizen and New Zealand resident, I empathize and sympathize. The last 3 years, 3 months have been shockingly horrifying. Here in NZ, considering everything, things have not been too bad and we're feeling hopeful.

yestravel May 7th, 2020 07:12 AM

Originally Posted by Diamantina (Post 17102608)
As an U.S. citizen and New Zealand resident, I empathize and sympathize. The last 3 years, 3 months have been shockingly horrifying. Here in NZ, considering everything, things have not been too bad and we're feeling hopeful.

My hope hinges on ~257 days. Beyond that it's very difficult to have hope.

Diamantina May 8th, 2020 12:44 AM

Mine, too.

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