The government has annouced changes to MIQ today, with stays halving from 14 to seven days, followed by isolation at home for three days.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield have been giving today's update on the government's response to the Delta outbreak.
Under the new MIQ regime, which will begin from 14 November, arrivals must be fully vaccinated and will be tested on days 0, 3 and 6 and undertake a rapid antigen test before leaving MIQ, before a day-9 test at home.
He said this will free up about 1500 rooms a month in MIQ. Some of this will be taken up by community cases but some will go into the booking system for travellers from overseas.
The second step will reopen the border to low-risk travellers from Samoa, Tonga and Tokelau without isolation.
This one-way quarantine-free travel will begin from 8 November.
Hipkins said stopping Covid-19 at the border had been a priority and New Zealand's ability to do so had led to levels of freedom over the past year and a half which were the envy of many other nations.
"As a country we owe a massive vote of thanks to our frontline MIQ and border workers," he said.
Entering the next phase, as vaccination rates increase internationally, the number of cases picked up from overseas had continued to decline.
He said the overall risk profile has changed and the government had been considering how to rebalance the MIQ system.
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