Trial to begin allowing some travellers to self-isolate at home

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a pilot that will allow those travelling overseas for business to forgo MIQ and isolate at home will be open for expressions of interest on Thursday.

Ardern says Cabinet today made further decisions on what will be a staged approach to ease border settings, including the self isolation trial which will be an alternative to MIQ.

She says the self isolation pilot will capped at 150 people and focus on businesses and employees required to travel internationally for work purposes.

Ardern says there will be a small number of government officials in the trial but vast majority will be from the private sector.

She says those taking part must be New Zealand residents.

Those applying will need to arrive in New Zealand between 30 October and 8 December, with final travellers leaving isolation by 22 December, she says.

It will be combined with a monitoring and testing regime, Ardern says.

"It is not our intention that self isolation be only available to business travellers in the future. This narrow scope now, though, is for us to kick off safely while we begin the design work."

Expressions of interest open on Thursday and will remain open until 9 October, she says.

Ardern says further down the track it may not be necessary for everyone to isolate for the full 14 days.

Minister Chris Hipkins will give more details about the pilot programme later in the week.

Ardern has also announced quarantine-free travel can begin for RSE workers from 4 October for Vanuatu and 12 October for Samoa and Tonga. They must have at least one vaccination and have their doses completed in New Zealand if they have not already done so.

They must remain in isolation on site at their workplaces until day five, and will be tested on day zero and day five.

Aucklanders spend first weekend at level 3

Ardern's briefing comes as Aucklanders are heading into a critical week with health experts warning the Covid-19 outbreak could go either way.

Auckland residents have just experienced their first weekend in alert level 3 after weeks of lockdown, and many were out and about enjoying the warmer spring weather.

But there are concerns people travelled further than they should have and were not observing the rules.

Auckland is at Alert Level 3, while the rest of the country is at Alert Level 2, the Delta version. These settings will be reviewed on Monday, October 4.

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