On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said they would no longer try to entirely get rid of COVID-19 in their country, now that vaccines are available.
That “zero COVID” strategy had led to some of the most stringent pandemic rules anywhere.
Ardern made her announcement during a press conference.
The Associated Press reported, “Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a cautious plan to ease lockdown restrictions in Auckland, despite an outbreak there that continues to simmer. Since early in the pandemic, New Zealand had pursued an unusual zero-tolerance approach to the virus through strict lockdowns and aggressive contact tracing.”
Ardern added, “With this outbreak, and Delta, the return to zero is incredibly difficult. This is a change in approach we were always going to make over time. Our Delta outbreak has accelerated this transition. Vaccines will support it.”
The PM continued, “It’s clear that a long period of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases. But it’s OK … elimination was important because we didn’t have vaccinations.”
“Now we do, so we can begin to change the way we do things,” she added.
Multiple outlets gave the details of the changing COVID guidelines in New Zealand.
The New York Times reported, “To move away from lockdowns altogether, New Zealand will have to achieve widespread vaccination, Ms. Ardern said. Some 79 percent of people 12 and older have received at least one dose, and 48 percent have received two doses, according to data from the Ministry of Health.”
“Full immunization of the population — New Zealand’s stated aim — could take months as the country struggles to persuade the final 20 percent to receive a first dose of a vaccine,” The Times noted.
The Guardian noted specific changes for New Zealanders: “From midnight Tuesday, Auckland will remain in alert level 3 but several key changes will occur. People will be able to connect with people outdoors, with no more than two households at a time and up to a maximum of 10 people. Early childhood education will return for all and people can move around Auckland for recreation such as beach visits and hunting.”
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