A COVID-19 update from the New Zealand Government on 12th August 2021, featuring a yellow and white background and the words "Unite against COVID-19.
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COVID-19 update from the New Zealand Government (12th August 2021

COVID-19 update from the New Zealand Government

Thursday 12 August, 2021

Reconnecting New Zealanders to the world

Today the Government launched a plan to safely re-open New Zealand’s borders from the first quarter of 2022, while sticking with the elimination strategy that has led the country’s COVID-19 response to date.

For now until the end of the year, the focus is on offering the vaccine to all eligible New Zealanders.

The vaccination process is being accelerated to ensure everyone is at least partially vaccinated as soon as possible to avoid the risk and impact of Delta variant of COVID-19.  

Once all eligible New Zealanders have had the opportunity to be vaccinated, there will be a phased approach to the re-opening of the border.

Read more about the next steps.

Livestream of today’s Reconnecting New Zealanders to the world forum.

Phased approach

From the first quarter of 2022, the country will look to move to new risk-based settings as soon as it’s safe. A self-isolation pilot for businesses that need to send staff overseas is planned in the second half of this year, and there are plans to develop new testing and vaccination checking systems at the border.

There will be new low, medium and high risk pathways when border and health systems are ready.

1.    Low risk: Quarantine free entry for vaccinated travellers who have been in low risk countries.

2.   Medium risk: Modified isolation for vaccinated travellers who have visited medium risk countries.

3.   High risk: Full 14 days in MIQ and testing for unvaccinated travellers from medium risk countries and all travellers who have been in very high risk or high risk countries.

Testing regimes will remain across all three pathways. A traveller health declaration, including a vaccination certification, will be an important factor in determining the travellers’ risk entry pathway on arrival.

Elimination strategy remains

Sir David Skegg, Chair of the Government’s independent Public Health Advisory Group, said elimination does not necessarily mean “zero COVID-19” or eradication.  Early in the pandemic, the Director-General of Health confirmed that our elimination approach focuses on zero tolerance towards new cases, rather than a goal of no new cases.  “Our approach has followed this definition, which treats elimination as a process, rather than a permanent outcome,” Sir David said today.

Alert level restrictions, including lockdowns, will be deployed as we need to in future to quickly stamp out the virus, but greater vaccination coverage will also ultimately reduce the need to use lockdowns.

If we open the borders now we will lose the freedoms and advantages we have worked so hard to achieve.


Key COVID-19 information in Te Reo Māori and over 33 other languages, plus accessible formats for the disabled community, is available from the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Information is available in NZ Sign Languagelarge print & audioeasy read.

Information for Pacific peoples.

Useful posters for your workplace or community.

Financial support for individuals, whānau, foreign nationals, and businesses. 

Up-to-date Alert Level information

Case information and numbers from the Ministry of Health