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NZ 'unlikely' to see significant international travel volumes this year and early 2022

International travel re-starting "won't just be a sudden flick of the switch moment", says Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, adding New Zealand would be "unlikely" to see significant volumes beyond safe zones this year and possibly early into next year.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes after Australia's Trade Minister Dan Tehan told Sky News his "best guess" of opening up international borders would not be until the second half of 2022. 

When asked today of New Zealand's position on opening borders, Hipkins said it is "unlikely to see significant volumes of international travel, beyond safe zones, in this year and possibly early into next year". 

He said Australia's modelling was "probably quite sensible".

"I've always said I think that international travel won't just be a sudden flick of the switch moment where all the border restrictions come up," Hipkins said. 

"It'll ramp slowly over time and we will take a risk-based approach.

"That may include opening up to a broader number of safe-ish countries earlier. Vaccination may play a role in that too, but at this point...this year, unless you're talking safe zones, don't rely on people coming in from other countries without doing that two weeks of isolation on arrival."

On if it is likely New Zealand will open in the second half of 2022, Hipkins said, "at this point we just don't know".