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New Zealand to end tough Covid curbs, adopt new virus-f...

Newsdeck

Lockdowns

New Zealand to end tough Covid curbs, adopt new virus-fighting system

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 26: Seagulls take over Queen Street in Auckland''s CBD after lock down has come into force with only essential workers and people exercising are allowed out on March 26, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. New Zealand has gone into lockdown as the government imposes tough restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 across the country. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday declared a State of National Emergency which came into effect at midnight along with lockdown measures. An Epidemic Notice has also been issued to help ensure the continuity of essential Government business. Under the COVID-19 Alert Level Four measures, all non-essential businesses are closed, including bars, restaurants, cinemas and playgrounds. Schools are closed and all indoor and outdoor events are banned. Essential services will remain open, including supermarkets and pharmacies. Lockdown measures are expected to remain in place for around four weeks, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warning there will be zero tolerance for people ignoring the restrictions, with police able to enforce them if required. New Zealand currently has 205 confirmed cases of COVID-19. (Photo by Bradley White/Getty Images)
By Reuters
22 Nov 2021 0

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.

“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 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.”

By Praveen Menon

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

Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]

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