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Foreign Affairs

New Zealand to lift tough Covid restrictions in December, to adopt new strategy

New Zealand

Strategy after failing to contain an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant of Covid-19 centered in Auckland, forcing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to abandon her lauded elimination strategy in favor of treating the virus as endemic.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement on Monday that New Zealand would adopt a new method of living with the virus on Dec. 3, which will terminate strict coronavirus precautions and allow businesses to operate in the country’s largest metropolis. Auckland, the country’s largest metropolis, has been under lockdown for more than 90 days, though some restrictions have lately been lifted.”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.

Depending on their level of Covid-19 exposure and immunization rates, regions will be categorized as red, orange, or green in the new system. The outbreak’s epicenter, Auckland, will begin with a red alert. According to Ardern, roughly 83 percent of eligible New Zealanders are now completely vaccinated, and that number will grow to 88 percent if all those who are due for their second dose receive it. 

The administration had stated that after 90 percent of the eligible population had been properly vaccinated, the country would no longer use lockdown measures and instead use the new traffic-light system to handle epidemics. New Zealand imposed some of the most stringent pandemic restrictions among OECD countries, limiting the spread of Covid-19 and allowing the economy to recover faster than many of its rivals. So far, the country has documented around 7,000 cases and 39 deaths. Its international frontiers are still closed to the rest of the world.

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