Since the beginning of the corona pandemic two years ago, New Zealand had sealed itself off from the outside world.

The country is now planning a gradual opening.

Tourists, business travelers and other visitors from countries that do not normally require a visa can enter New Zealand without a special permit by July at the latest.

Germany also belongs to the countries in this category.

The full opening for visa applicants from other countries is not planned until October.

Till Fähnders

Political correspondent for Southeast Asia.

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"There will be life after Covid," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in Wellington on Thursday. "A life in which we've adjusted, in which we've regained some normality and in which the weather is once again taking its rightful place as the dominant topic of our conversations," said the 41-year-old politician. New Zealand is well on the way there, but hasn't quite arrived yet, Ardern said.

Like many others, the country is currently fighting against the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

Of more than 17,000 cases since the pandemic began, more than 5,000 were discovered in the past month alone.

At 53, the number of dead is still very low in international comparison.

The government restored the entire country to the highest level under a traffic light system introduced in December and imposed severe restrictions on the unvaccinated.

Nevertheless, the entry conditions will initially be eased, especially for vaccinated New Zealanders.

These are the five steps of opening:

(1) From 27 February: Fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens staying in Australia are now allowed to return without special permission.

Self-isolation at home instead of quarantine in government facilities (ten days)

(2) From 13 March: Fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens in the rest of the world, professionals and some Working Holiday Visa holders are now allowed to enter New Zealand.

Self-isolation at home only seven days left.

(3) From April 12: Fully vaccinated foreigners with existing visas, up to 5,000 international students, participants in cultural events and sports competitions, and workers in certain "critical" occupations are allowed to enter from now on.

(4) By July at the latest: Australians and residents, as well as citizens of other countries who do not normally require a visa, are now also allowed to enter.

Germany also belongs to this category of countries.

(5) From October: Borders will reopen to travelers from all over the world who have the appropriate visa.

Last but not least, the opening plan is about bringing family members and friends together, said Ardern.

In the past, there has always been criticism of the tough entry requirements, as New Zealand citizens had to stay abroad and missed important events in the lives of their loved ones.

The problem was recently illustrated by the sensational case of a pregnant New Zealand journalist that made the international press.

The journalist sought refuge in Afghanistan after the rejection of her visa application under the Taliban.

The government had already said goodbye to its zero-Covid strategy with the arrival of the Delta variant.

With a rate of 94 percent of residents over the age of twelve with double vaccination, it is time to adjust the corona measures, said Chris Hipkins, the minister responsible for fighting the pandemic.

It's about reconnecting and getting the economy going.