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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a news conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday. Photo: Mark Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images

New Zealand will reopen to most international travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 next year, in a gradual lifting of border restrictions that have been in place since March 2020.

Why it matters: NZ imposed some of the world's toughest pandemic measures and largely contained the virus to managed hotel quarantine facilities for returning New Zealand residents. Its economy had rebounded before Delta arrived in August and domestic restrictions returned.

The big picture: COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told a briefing Wednesday that from 11:59pm on Jan. 16, fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travelers can travel to NZ from Australia without staying in quarantine facilities, though there are negative test requirements.

  • They will initially have to self-isolate for seven days, with the goal of removing the requirement at some point. "We will keep that under constant review," Hipkins said.
  • The border would open to fully vaccinated NZ permanent residents from all other countries from Feb. 13, and foreign travelers who are inoculated against COVID-19 can travel to New Zealand from April 30.

Yes, but: People from countries classed as "very high risk" still won't be permitted to enter NZ. Papua New Guinea is currently the only nation that would be affected by this.

For the record: Auckland, NZ's most populous city and the center of the Delta outbreak, has been under restrictions since August.

  • These are beginning to ease amid the ongoing Delta outbreak, as the country moves to the COVID-19 Protection Framework. This includes a vaccine mandate for businesses such as bars, restaurants, gyms and hair salons — which means they can't operate unless all staff are fully vaccinated.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Updated Jan 14, 2022 - Axios Twin Cities

Questions about Twin Cities indoor dining vaccine mandates, answered

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Vaccine-or-test mandates for indoor dining go into effect in Minneapolis and St. Paul on Wednesday, Jan. 19. Here are answers to some common questions on the orders:

Q: Are all restaurants covered by the requirement?

A: No, St. Paul's order only covers establishments licensed by the city. That means coffee shops, fast food chains and other places that do not serve alcohol are exempt, according to the Pioneer Press.

Airlines call for Biden admin's "immediate intervention" in 5G deployment

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The CEOs of leading U.S. air cargo and passenger carriers on Monday warned the Biden administration there could be "catastrophic disruption" after AT&T and Verizon deploy a new 5G service this week.

Driving the news: They said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other top federal officials ahead of the C-Band 5G service's deployment Wednesday that "the nation's commerce will grind to a halt" and "could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas."