New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the country will reopen its borders at the last minute on July 31 to all foreign tourists, workers, students and family visitors with new visas. Maritime borders will also be reopened at the same time to allow foreign cruise ships in.
Ardern also announced a series of new policies on foreign workers, hoping to attract more skilled workers and immigrants.
Ardern is quarantined in coronavirus because of her partner's infection. Ardern attended a business lunch in Auckland with her immigration and education ministers, Radio New Zealand reported. She later returned to her home in Wellington to announce the new policy via video link.
The full opening date is two months ahead of schedule. New Zealand's citizens and foreign permanent residents had previously been allowed to enter under the government's gradual opening of the border scheme 39bet-xì dách-phỏm miền bắc-tiến lên miền bắc-xóc đĩa-game bắn cá; starting from May 1, passengers from visa-free countries such as Germany and the UK may enter New Zealand without quarantine, provided they provide proof of full coronavirus vaccination and the Novel coronavirus test results are negative before departure and after arrival. Foreign travelers who need a visa, who have been able to take new trips until October, will now take them to August.
Ms. Ardern said border surveillance measures would remain in place for the time being, but she was "confident" that the requirement for foreign travelers to be "tested for COVID-19 before departure" would be lifted by July 31.
With a vast, sparsely populated population of about 5 million, New Zealand is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. New Zealand banned almost all foreign travellers from entering the country in March 2020 following the outbreak. Thanks to strict lockdown measures, New Zealand has been able to control the epidemic. Due to the spread of the Omicron variant, Ardern's government adjusted its quarantine policy and border reopening plan. New Zealand has recorded more than 1 million confirmed cases and more than 800 deaths.
Passengers arrive at the International Arrivals Hall of Auckland Airport in Auckland, New Zealand, May 2, 2019. New Zealand's borders were opened to passengers from visa-free countries starting from 00:00. It is also the first time New Zealand has fully opened its borders to non-citizen residents since it closed them in March 2020.
Announcing the reopening date, Ardern also unveiled a series of new immigration policies aimed at helping New Zealand's economy accelerate its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by "alleviating the pressing shortage of skilled Labour, reopening tourism and making the base of our immigration policies safer."
Immigration Minister Chris Fafoi said the new policy as a whole would shift demand for foreign workers from low-skilled to high-skilled jobs in selected sectors, including health care, construction, meat processing and fisheries. But to cope with winter demand, the ski and adventure industries can still employ low-paid foreign workers on a short-term basis.
The government has drawn up a "green list" of 85 jobs that are in high demand in China, including construction, trade, health care and information technology. Foreigners who meet these needs will be given priority in applying for residency.
To ease the shortage, the New Zealand government will extend visas for about 20,000 foreign workers already in the country whose visas expire by the end of 2023.
The twice-delayed "Trusted Employer Work visa" is expected to come into force in July, allowing employers to prove the need to hire foreign workers instead of nationals through their own recruitment process, and the government will issue the visa if they pass a review. For tourism and hotel services, the government has agreed to temporarily reduce the minimum hourly wage paid by "trusted employers" to 25 Singapore dollars an hour until the end of April next year.
The reopening of New Zealand's international education sector will help revive it, but more restrictions will be placed on foreign students working outside of school hours.
International students on non-degree courses will not be allowed to take part-time jobs unless there is a shortage of jobs or a need for skilled workers, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. At other universities, international students can only work as long as their studies last; master's and doctoral degree holders can stay in new jobs for up to three years after completing their studies; you cannot apply for a visa again after completing your studies.