New Zealand ditches vaccination goal, sets out new Covid-19 strategy

New Zealand will change the way it deals with the Covid-19 pandemic in December, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Wednesday.

New Zealand will change the way it deals with the Covid-19 pandemic in December, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Wednesday.

In October, Ardern said coronavirus measures would be eased for the fully vaccinated after 90 per cent of the population of each health board region got their two coronavirus jabs.

However, the entire country would now move to a new Covid-19 strategy in early December, regardless of vaccination rates.

Ardern said New Zealand‘s elimination strategy worked well but the pandemic has evolved.

“Elimination was never intended as a forever strategy. As time has gone on we have seen its limitations,” she said.

“Almost no country has escaped Delta and New Zealand has been no exception. But where we can be an exception is how well we minimize the virus and protect our people from it.”

A “traffic light” system would allow high-risk businesses to open to vaccinated customers at green and orange and continue to operate with some restrictions at red.

Businesses will be able to open to the unvaccinated, but will face restrictions in order to suppress the virus among those most likely to have it, Ardern said.

“We now have the unique advantage though of moving to the next phase of managing Covid-19 with a highly vaccinated population and with a plan,” Ardern said.

“Our plan is a simple one; to carefully reopen while continuing to protect New Zealanders lives and livelihoods.”

Ardern said the new system would offer greater incentives to be vaccinated and greater protections for both those who are and aren’t.

She acknowledged some would think the change came too fast or too slow but she had “no doubt” it was the best plan to keep the country safe.

The government is set to confirm the new system on November 29.

Meanwhile, a border around Auckland would be loosened on December 15, Ardern said.

Auckland, the country’s largest city with a population of about 1.7
million, has been under restrictions after a first case was
detected on August 18. The number of cases in the outbreak has now
reached 5,807 and spread beyond the city.

“Aucklanders have faced restrictions for an extended period of time to keep the rest of New Zealand safe. But with increased rates of vaccination it’s time to open up the ability to travel again,” Ardern said.

Travellers leaving Auckland will have to be fully vaccinated or have a negative test within 72 hours of departure.

New Zealand recorded 194 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, after a record high 222 were reported on Tuesday.

About 91 per cent of the country’s eligible population has received a first vaccine dose, while 82 per cent of New Zealand residents are fully vaccinated.

With a population of 5 million, New Zealand has reported almost 9,000 cases of Covid-19 and 36 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.

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