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New Zealand Set To Reopen To Australians Sooner Than Expected As COVID Case Numbers Remain High

New Zealand is preparing to soften its borders sooner than anticipated.

On Monday morning, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told TVNZ that an announcement would be made this week, with a new schedule for re-opening to be drawn up.

"Australians generally were due to come in in July, visa waiver countries as well thereafter. We're looking to bring those forward because we believe we can safely do so," she said.

"We'll be looking to make announcements on the timeframe of that this week."

New Zealand has had a hard border for almost two years, and it was a key part of its COVID-19 defence. However, COVID cases have now spiked, and there is now an acceptance that the border regime is causing more harm than good.

The country is facing its highest caseload of COVID since the pandemic began, with hospitalisations are at an all-time high of 896, with the average daily caseload being around 20,000.