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Jacinda Ardern begs UK tourists to return to New Zealand as she prepares to FINALLY reopen borders

 

Jacinda Ardern has begged UK tourists to visit New Zealand as it prepares to fully reopen its borders after more than two years of isolation due to her ‘Zero Covid’ policy.

The New Zealand Prime Minister did her best to sell her country as a winter sun holiday destination during an appearance on ITV‘s Lorraine this morning.

Speaking on the show, Ms Ardern said people from the UK can already visit the country despite it being locked away from the rest of the world since March 2020. 

The Pacific island nation had gone into one of the world’s strictest lockdowns at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, restricting almost all travel in and out of the country, even trapping some of her own citizens outside.

Strict lockdowns were also imposed in the country in an effort to snuff out the virus as the New Zealand Labour Party politician implemented a ‘Zero Covid’ goal.

Despite fierce criticism from some in the country over the restrictions, Ms Ardern has repeatedly defended the rules, saying they saved lives.

Ms Ardern, who is currently in the UK for talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, found time to appear on ITV’s Lorraine this morning where she urged UK tourists to visit the country after it loosened rules so international travellers arriving after May 1 could do so without without quarantining. 

Jacinda Ardern appeared on ITV's Lorraine this morning to pitch New Zealand as a winter holiday destination for British tourists. Here she is pictured on the show today Jacinda Ardern appeared on ITV's Lorraine this morning to pitch New Zealand as a winter holiday destination for British tourists. Here she is pictured on the show today

Jacinda Ardern appeared on ITV’s Lorraine this morning to pitch New Zealand as a winter holiday destination for British tourists. Here she is pictured on the show today

There have been strict restrictions on who can enter New Zealand for more than two years. Pictured are mask-wearing travellers arriving at Auckland Airport There have been strict restrictions on who can enter New Zealand for more than two years. Pictured are mask-wearing travellers arriving at Auckland Airport

There have been strict restrictions on who can enter New Zealand for more than two years. Pictured are mask-wearing travellers arriving at Auckland Airport

The New Zealand Prime Minister appeared on Lorraine ahead of a meeting with Boris Johnson today. Here she is pictured speaking with Mr Johnson in Downing Street this morning The New Zealand Prime Minister appeared on Lorraine ahead of a meeting with Boris Johnson today. Here she is pictured speaking with Mr Johnson in Downing Street this morning

The New Zealand Prime Minister appeared on Lorraine ahead of a meeting with Boris Johnson today. Here she is pictured speaking with Mr Johnson in Downing Street this morning

Before then people from the UK could only enter the country under certain conditions, such as to see terminally ill loved ones, or on a student or critical worker visa. 

She said: ‘We’re actually already open, anyone in the UK you can travel now. I’ll put a plug in, your winter is our summer so make those plans.

Speaking to her Scottish host, she said: ‘Having being to Scotland though I can say summer is a little more summery in New Zealand, as much as I love places like Scotland. 

‘I would like to think I can be objective, it [New Zealand] is just the most beautiful place. 

‘What I love as well is you can get that combination of being in cities but then being in close proximity to nature, beaches, amazing walks, nature tourism and now food and wine – it’s hard to have a bad meal.’

How New Zealand's Covid crisis (orange) compares to the UK's (blue): TOP: Daily cases per every million people living in each country, BOTTOM: Daily deaths adjusted to the same population size. The Pacific island nation had gone into one of the world's strictest lockdowns at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, restricting almost all travel in and out of the country, even trapping some of her own citizens outside. Strict lockdowns were also imposed in the country in an effort to snuff out the virus as the New Zealand Labour Party politician implemented a 'Zero Covid' goal How New Zealand's Covid crisis (orange) compares to the UK's (blue): TOP: Daily cases per every million people living in each country, BOTTOM: Daily deaths adjusted to the same population size. The Pacific island nation had gone into one of the world's strictest lockdowns at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, restricting almost all travel in and out of the country, even trapping some of her own citizens outside. Strict lockdowns were also imposed in the country in an effort to snuff out the virus as the New Zealand Labour Party politician implemented a 'Zero Covid' goal

How New Zealand’s Covid crisis (orange) compares to the UK’s (blue): TOP: Daily cases per every million people living in each country, BOTTOM: Daily deaths adjusted to the same population size. The Pacific island nation had gone into one of the world’s strictest lockdowns at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, restricting almost all travel in and out of the country, even trapping some of her own citizens outside. Strict lockdowns were also imposed in the country in an effort to snuff out the virus as the New Zealand Labour Party politician implemented a ‘Zero Covid’ goal

The country is set to loosen almost all restrictions on entry at the end of the month. Pictured is a passenger wearing a face mask arriving in New Zealand The country is set to loosen almost all restrictions on entry at the end of the month. Pictured is a passenger wearing a face mask arriving in New Zealand

The country is set to loosen almost all restrictions on entry at the end of the month. Pictured is a passenger wearing a face mask arriving in New Zealand

How can I enter New Zealand from the UK? 

British nationals wanting to visit New Zealand do not require a visa. 

The UK has an agreement with the country so Britons can spend six months in the country without a visa.

However, there are currently several additional requirements. 

You will also need to get a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) before arriving as well as a conservation and tourism levy, costing a total of around £24.

New Zealand also demands proof visitors have been vaccinated. 

Only people with valid reasons not for having the vaccine, such as medical reasons or being a refugee, are exempt.

You will also have to take two rapid antigen tests (RATs) at least one and six days after you arrive and declare your results.

Ms Ardern also defender her tough Covid rules, saying they helped save lives in her country.

‘We’re open and I think for everyone, there was no response to the pandemic that was without cost,’ she said. 

‘It was either an awful and horrific cost to human life, or as we predominantly felt the cost of it being hard for people to move around. 

‘You could come and go but we quarantined and because of quarantine it was limited space. 

‘It was hard for everyone, but we came through it with much fewer hospitalisations and loss of life than most.’

When asked if she would have done anything different in hindsight, she said: ‘Of course. If you look back on something and you can’t think of something that you would have changed you’re probably not looking hard enough. 

‘So absolutely. But the overall strategy, no, because I know it saved lives, I know it did.’

According to the World Health Organisation New Zealand has seen 1.3 million cases of Covid since the beginning of the pandemic, resulting in 1,466 deaths. 

Most of these have come since February this year after an outbreak of the Omicron variant in the country.

She made the remarks ahead of a visit to Downing Street for the first time since the pandemic. 

In a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he praised her for the ‘very strong line that you take on Ukraine’, while she said her visit to Europe was an ‘incredibly important milestone’ for New Zealand.   

Ms Ardern said it signified ‘we are open for business, for trade, for tourism’.

The New Zealand prime minister said the pair would be discussing the recently signed trade deal and progress on ratification.

She said the deal was good for both the UK and New Zealand.

Ms Ardern also said they would discuss the situation in Ukraine, hot on the heels of a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain.

Ms Ardern met with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on her visit to the capital today. Here she is pictured shaking hands with him outside Downing Street this morning Ms Ardern met with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on her visit to the capital today. Here she is pictured shaking hands with him outside Downing Street this morning

Ms Ardern met with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on her visit to the capital today. Here she is pictured shaking hands with him outside Downing Street this morning

The pair discussed a recently-signed free trade agreement between the UK and New Zealand, as well as the ongoing war in Ukraine. Here the pair are pictured talking inside Downing Street The pair discussed a recently-signed free trade agreement between the UK and New Zealand, as well as the ongoing war in Ukraine. Here the pair are pictured talking inside Downing Street

The pair discussed a recently-signed free trade agreement between the UK and New Zealand, as well as the ongoing war in Ukraine. Here the pair are pictured talking inside Downing Street

Covid curbs introduced by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

March 16, 2020: Mandatory self-isolation for all new arrivals, including New Zealanders into the country.

March 19: All non-residents or citizens are banned from entering the country under an international border ban.

March 25: Nationwide lockdown enforced, with only essential services allowed to open. At this stage, NZ has recorded 102 cases and 0 deaths.

June 8, 2020: Ardern announces no new community transmissions within the past fortnight and says NZ has eliminated transmission of Covid. 

August-September 2020: Auckland’s 1.7million residents endure two months of lockdown measures after 4 new cases are initially recorded.

February-March 2021: Auckland re-enters lockdown as three new Covid cases are recorded in the community.

August 17: All of New Zealand re-enters Level 4 lockdown measures for two weeks as one new community case is recorded.

October: Traffic light system is created, barring unvaccinated residents from entering businesses, gyms and barbers in ‘red’ or ‘amber’ alert areas.

December: The Government delays the planned reopening of its border in February due to the spreading Omicron variant. 

December 21: Length of stay for people in Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facilities increased to 10 days.

January 2022: Public backlash as major events and sporting fixtures are capped at a maximum of 100 people under Covid Red Alert measures.

January 18: Government postpones managed isolation and quarantine lottery due to increase in Covid cases.

January: Ardern announced she had cancelled her own wedding after nine new Omicron cases were recorded.

February: Government announces plan to open up country with New Zealanders and eligible travellers from Australia allowed to skip quarantine as long as they self-isolate for 10 days.

March 2: Vaccinated travellers entering the country no longer have to self-isolate on arrival. 

May 2: UK travellers and those from other visa waiver countries allowed to enter country without self-isolating.

August 2022: New Zealand government to loosen restrictions to allow all travellers to enter the country provided they are vaccinated and take two rapid antigen tests after arrival.

She told the Prime Minister it was a good ‘opportunity’ to discuss the way the two countries have together responded to the war, noting the UK leadership on the conflict.

‘We have also provided our military aid via our partnership with you,’ she told Mr Johnson.

Back at home Ms Ardern faced a slew of criticism from campaigners and members of the public after imposing strict Covid curbs since the start of the pandemic.

International borders were promptly closed on March 19, with a nationwide lockdown enforced on March 25 after 102 cases, and no deaths, were recorded in the country.

On June 8, the PM announced there had been no new community transmissions within the past fortnight and says she is ‘confident New Zealand has eliminated community transmission of Covid’.

But within two months, Auckland was placed under strict lockdown measures after just four new cases were recorded in the city area.

A draconian ‘Zero Covid’ goal was then implemented across the country, with New Zealand aiming to completely eradicate the virus from its shores.

But this policy was met with ridicule as the Delta variant ripped through the world in the summer of 2021, prompting a return to multiple weeks of lockdown for Auckland’s 1.7 million residents.

Critics slammed the return of draconian curbs on everyday life, pointing to the fact other countries have started to reopen despite reporting thousands of new cases.

MailOnline columnist Dan Wootton hit out at the ‘terror and paranoia’ that has enveloped New Zealand since implementing its drastic zero-Covid policy while the rest of the world learns to live alongside the virus.

His deeply personal column prompted support from a host of British and New Zealand readers, including former All Black star Zinzan Brooke, who tweeted: ‘Completely agree with Dan here’.

The restrictions even kept some of her own citizens locked out of the country, including a pregnant New Zealand journalist who was stranded in Afghanistan.

Charlotte Bellis spent months attempting to return home after learning she was pregnant in September 2021.

She submitted 59 documents to New Zealand officials in Afghanistan in an attempt to secure an emergency return home, but her bid was turned down and led her to turn to the Taliban, one of the world’s most oppressive regimes, for sympathy.

Speaking to 1News about her situation in January, Ms Bellis asked: ‘To the NZ Government, I ask what do you want me to do? I have done nothing wrong I got pregnant and I am a New Zealander.

‘At what point did we get so bogged down in these rules we’ve come up with that we can’t see that she’s a Kiwi in need of help and she needs to come home?’

Writing in the New Zealand Herald in January, Ms Bellis said it was ‘brutally ironic’ that while she had once questioned the Taliban about their treatment of women, she was now asking the same questions of her own government.

‘When the Taliban offers you – a pregnant, unmarried woman – safe haven, you know your situation is messed up,’ she wrote.

Pregnant New Zealand journalist Charlotte Bellis (pictured) was stranded in Afghanistan and  turned to the Taliban for help as she was unable to return to her homeland because of Jacinda Ardern's draconian Covid curbs Pregnant New Zealand journalist Charlotte Bellis (pictured) was stranded in Afghanistan and  turned to the Taliban for help as she was unable to return to her homeland because of Jacinda Ardern's draconian Covid curbs

Pregnant New Zealand journalist Charlotte Bellis (pictured) was stranded in Afghanistan and  turned to the Taliban for help as she was unable to return to her homeland because of Jacinda Ardern’s draconian Covid curbs

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern faced a slew of criticism from campaigners and members of the public after imposing strict Covid curbs since the start of the pandemic New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern faced a slew of criticism from campaigners and members of the public after imposing strict Covid curbs since the start of the pandemic

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern faced a slew of criticism from campaigners and members of the public after imposing strict Covid curbs since the start of the pandemic 

Ms Bellis said pregnancy can be a death sentence in Afghanistan because of the poor state of maternity care and lack of surgical capabilities.

She added that after talking to lawyers, politicians and public relations people in New Zealand, her case seems to be moving forward, although she has yet to be approved passage home.

Ms Bellis was eventually given permission to return home at the beginning of March, before giving birth to her daughter on May 26 in Christchurch.