New Zealand to end tough COVID curbs, adopt new virus-fighting system – reuters.com

FILE PHOTO:Shoppers walk through a retail district in the wake of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown restrictions being eased in Auckland, New Zealand, November 10, 2021. REUTERS/Fiona Goodall

Register now for FREE unlimited access to reuters.com

WELLINGTON, Nov 22 (Reuters) – New Zealand will adopt a new system of living with the coronavirus virus from Dec. 3, which will end tough restrictions and allow businesses to operate in its biggest city, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

New Zealand remained largely COVID-19 free until August but has been unable to beat an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant, forcing Ardern to abandon an elimination strategy and switch to treating the virus as endemic.

Its biggest city Auckland has been in lockdown for over 90 days, although some measures were eased recently.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to reuters.com

“The hard truth is that Delta is here and not going away, but New Zealand is well set to tackle it because of our high vaccination rates and our latest safety measures including the traffic light system and Vaccine Pass,” Ardern said in a statement.

The new system will rate regions as red, orange or green depending on their level of exposure to COVID-19 and vaccination rates. Auckland, the epicentre of the Delta outbreak, will start at red, making face masks mandatory and putting limits on gatherings at public places.

Ardern said about 83% of eligible New Zealanders are fully vaccinated, while 88% have had their first shot.

The government previously said the country would drop lockdown measures and move to the traffic-light system to manage outbreaks after 90% of the eligible population was fully vaccinated.

Along with its geographic isolation, New Zealand enforced some of the tightest pandemic restrictions among OECD nations, limiting the spread of COVID-19 and helping its economy bounce back faster than many of its peers.

The country of 5 million has so far reported about 7,000 cases in all and just 39 deaths.

Its international border is still shut and it is unclear when it will reopen.

Air New Zealand (AIR.NZ) said on Monday it has cancelled more than 1,000 flights to neighbouring Australia through to the end of the year due to border uncertainty.

New Zealand ended quarantine free travel with Australia in August after a new Delta outbreak there, and has kept its borders tightly sealed.

“This will be particularly tough news for families and friends who were hoping to catch up over Christmas,” said Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty.

“Our hands are tied until border restrictions ease, and we receive further clarity from the New Zealand government.”

Register now for FREE unlimited access to reuters.com

Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Richard Pullin

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Sorgente articolo:
New Zealand to end tough COVID curbs, adopt new virus-fighting system – reuters.com

User ID Campaign ID Link
d9a95efa0a2845057476957a427b0499 l-99999996 Free Trial Webinar
d9a95efa0a2845057476957a427b0499 l-99999993 Buy Pixel
d9a95efa0a2845057476957a427b0499 l-99999979 Fiasconaro
d9a95efa0a2845057476957a427b0499 l-99999994 Marketing Automation