WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand will drop its remaining pandemic border restrictions at the start of August, opening up to visitors from non visa-waiver countries such as India and China, and allowing international students and cruise ships to return. The government also plans to offer visa extensions to about 20,000 migrants in New Zealand, as businesses scramble for workers during record-low unemployment and high workplace absenteeism due to rising COVID-19 infections.
The final stage of New Zealand’s border reopening is taking place about two months earlier than previously planned, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Wednesday. The country has been gradually reopening to foreigners this year–first to Australians and then to visitors from 60 visa-waiver countries including the U.S. and Singapore–after ending its costly zero-COVID-19 policy. The border was shut to all but citizens and long-term residents in April 2020 as part of tough measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.