LISTEN: From early next year, travellers entering New Zealand will be allowed to skip managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) if they are vaccinated.
COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has announced that home isolation will be allowed for vaccinated Kiwis travelling from Australia from January 17. They will need to self-isolate for seven days.
For Kiwis arriving from other countries, they won't be allowed to do the same until February 14.
Asked why the changes won't be made before Christmas, Hipkins said it was to manage the process properly and safely.
"We have to manage this in a staged way," he told Lloyd Burr Live.
Before Christmas, Auckland is reopening for business again. Hipkins says there will be an increased risk of COVID spreading.
"There will be a lot more happening in Auckland, and we're removing the boundary from around Auckland. So the combined effect of those two things increases the risk of COVID spreading already, and we don't want to do a whole lot of things all at the same time that means that we end up with a big spread of COVID-19 that becomes uncontrollable."
And from April 30 onwards, fully vaccinated people from all countries, excluding Papua New Guinea, will be able to travel to New Zealand without going into MIQ. Instead, they will also be required to self-isolate at home for seven days.
Hipkins acknowledged the country is entering a new phase in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"That doesn't though mean that we just want to give up and let COVID-19 run rip. We want to make sure that we're trying to contain COVID-19, we don't want to see massive outbreaks," he told Magic Talk.
"Doing it in a staged way means we can keep on top of it."
Listen to the full interview with Chris Hipkins above.
Magic Talk | Lloyd Burr Live, weekdays from 4pm