New Zealand Intends to Reopen Borders Early Next Year
Having successfully eliminated local transmission of the Coronavirus, New Zealand plans to reopen its borders to foreign travelers early next year.
Earlier this week, the country announced plans to test its pandemic mitigation measures, as they have relied so far on almost complete isolation from the rest of the world.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that foreign travelers will be allowed to enter the country in the first quarter of 2022 after the nation has completed its vaccination program.
According to the prime minister, when travel reopens next year, fully vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries will not be required to quarantine, while those from medium-risk countries will be required to undergo a limited home quarantine.
She added that unvaccinated travelers and those arriving from high-risk countries will be required to complete a 14-day quarantine in a military-run hotel.
New Zealand plans to test its home-quarantine process with business travelers in October. According to Ardern, the government will continue to follow advice from experts on the matter and will maintain the zero-Covid strategy of eliminating locally transmitted diseases.
Ardern also announced that her government will delay the administration of the Pfizer vaccine’s second dose in order to expand the vaccine’s coverage.
The two Pfizer doses will now be administered six weeks apart instead of three. In addition, border workers and older people which are the first priority of the inoculation program, have already been vaccinated.
The New Zealand Herald reports that only 21.2% of the vaccine-eligible population in New Zealand has been vaccinated. This is far lower than the rate in other developed nations. As the rollout gains momentum, the government’s projections of total doses are being surpassed.
New Zealand’s relatively slow vaccine rollout and the possibility of vaccinated travelers carrying breakthrough delta variant infections are likely to pose a challenge to New Zealand’s elimination strategy.
The trans-Tasman neighbor Australia, which had so far largely stomped out the local spread of Covid, is currently experiencing one of its worst outbreaks, largely due to the more infectious delta variant. 2,913.
There have been 26 deaths attributed to Covid-19 in New Zealand since the beginning of the pandemic.
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