- The declaration lifts the last of the nation’s largest city’s lockdown from August.
- Although vaccination rates will fall short of the objective by early December, Ardern believes it is still time to act.
Bars, restaurants, and gyms in Auckland will reopen in early December, but patrons will be forced to provide evidence of vaccination, according to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The statement lifts the remaining vestiges of an August lockdown in the nation’s largest city. It also marks the start of a new phase in New Zealand’s pandemic response, in which everyone in the country must be completely vaccinated to do anything from getting a haircut to going to a concert.
From late December 2, Ardern announced that New Zealand would implement a new pandemic “traffic light” system based on vaccine passports.
The approach will end the lockdowns that New Zealand employed to efficiently remove virus outbreaks during the initial 18 months of the pandemic but which failed to extinguish a more contagious delta variant breakout in August.
Ardern set a lofty goal last month of vaccinating 90 percent of all eligible people in each of the 20 health districts before switching to the new system.
Although vaccination rates will fall short of the objective by early December, Ardern believes it is still time to act. Approximately 83 percent of New Zealanders aged 12 and up are completely vaccinated; however, certain health districts have rates as low as 73 percent.
Vaccination regulations and pandemic restrictions have sparked increasingly violent protests against the government.
And polls suggest that support for Ardern and her liberal government has dwindled since their overwhelming election victory a little over a year ago. However, they are still more popular than their conservative opponents.
With roughly 200 new illnesses recorded each day, the current outbreak appears to have steadied considerably, with most of them occurring in Auckland.
Since the pandemic began, about 85 New Zealanders have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and the country has reported about 40 viral deaths out of a population of 5 million.
“The harsh reality is that delta is here to stay,” Ardern added. “While no country has ever been able to eliminate delta once it has arrived, New Zealand is in a better position than others to deal with it.”
The traffic light system is intended to show where epidemics are putting the health system under strain. Even with vaccination certificates, a green designation would impose little restrictions, whereas an orange designation would demand additional mask-wearing and distance, and a red designation would prohibit gathering sizes.
Ardern stated that Auckland would begin the new system with a red light, while other districts would begin with a red or orange.
The government should have reopened sooner, according to opposition legislator David Seymour. He led the libertarian ACT Party but stalled to get its vaccine passport system working.
Ardern had earlier stated that a border around Auckland that had prevented most people from leaving the city would be removed on December 15, allowing Aucklanders to travel over the Christmas holiday period but raising concerns among some health experts that it would speed up the spread of the virus across the country.
Source: CTV News
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