New Zealand prepares to reopen its international border for Christmas as Jacinda Ardern admits she can’t stop the delta and considers a major relaxation of quarantine rules ahead of a projected surge in Covid-19.
- Jacinda Ardern adopted an elimination strategy against Kovid-19
- New Zealand still struggling to contain the virus and expects a surge in cases
- Ms Ardern has been forced to rethink and is likely to loosen restrictions
- New Zealand’s international border may be relaxed before Christmas
- Infected kiwis may be allowed to stay at home or isolate in community centers
And Jacinda ArdernThe US government is preparing to allow virus-stricken kiwis to stay at home or isolate in community facilities if they do not require hospital-level care.
projected growth of coronavirus Cases on the horizon have prompted changes.
The rigid border has been maintained as New Zealand has adopted an eradication strategy against the virus, but the reluctant acceptance of ongoing community cases has turned the government’s mind into a rethinking of the border.
Ms Ardern is set to loosen the mandatory 14-day stay at a quarantine hotel – known locally as MIQ – upon arrival.
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern has been forced to rethink her Covid-19 policy, ahead of a projected surge in cases despite her elimination strategy.
“We are actively considering our MIQ settings in light of the fact that we are unlikely to return to zero cases,” said Covid-19 minister Chris Hipkins.
‘You can expect us to talk more about this soon.’
International travel has been halted since July, when New Zealand suspended the trans-Tasman bubble due to rising cases in NSW and Victoria.
While there are several Covid-free zones in both countries – including Wellington and the South Island – the government is not hungry to reopen the bubble.
In August, a major review suggested NZ move to a traffic light system for arrivals in early 2022, based on the Covid-19 risk profile of where passengers have come from.
It is unclear whether it will continue to pursue that plan, given that the virus is set to remain in NZ.
New Zealand has already issued a vaccine mandate for international arrivals: by next month, all non-citizens arriving in the country must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
As for future steps, the government is keeping a close eye on Australia’s plan to reopen next month.
“For people who want to move between New Zealand and Australia… it’s one of the areas with the most pressure for movement,” Hipkins said.
‘Whenever we are talking about any change on the international border, Australia is one of those countries which is absolutely front of mind.’
New Zealand’s case numbers are low by global standards – the seven-day average is currently 43 – but is rising.
On Wednesday, Mr Hipkins warned of a ‘significant increase’ in cases in Auckland, where the virus is not under control.
NZ is now transitioning from elimination to a suppression model, quickly writing a new rulebook to reduce cases and protect a low-resource health system.
New Zealand (Wellington, pictured) could reopen its international border and restart its travel bubble with Australia for Christmas
Radio NZ reports 583 MIQ beds are designated for Kiwis with COVID-19, and as of Monday, 211 were in use, filled with 364 people.
The projected surge in cases would challenge that potential.
One proposed new measure is community-supported isolation and quarantine, where low-risk cases may be isolated at home or in other facilities, not at MIQ or hospital.
The major preventive measure remains vaccination.
“Only three percent of cases in this outbreak have been vaccinated,” Hipkins said.
‘The best thing people can do is to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families.’
About 80 percent of eligible kiwis have received at least one dose of the vaccine, of which 57 percent are fully vaccinated.