From RNZ this morning,
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the government are this morning responding to a report from its Covid-19 advisory group on re-opening Aotearoa’s borders.
New Zealand will begin testing self-isolation instead of MIQ for vaccinated people this year, with a new border system based on low, medium and high-risk entry paths kicking in from early 2022, the government has announced.
Vaccinations will also be open to all eligible ages from 1 September and the gap between first and second doses will be moved to six weeks instead of two, as the government continues with its elimination strategy.
Mask wearing and QR code scanning will also become mandatory.
“Key to this is maintaining our Elimination Strategy. The advice is clear: If we open our borders now we will lose the freedoms and advantages we have achieved so far,” she said.
She announced the new border system would assess people’s risk individually:
- Low risk: Vaccinated travellers from low risk countries: no isolation required
- Medium risk: Vaccinated travellers from medium risk countries: modified isolation requirements
- High risk: Unvaccinated travellers and all travellers from high risk countries: 14 days in MIQ
The system would also require pre-departure tests and further testing for travellers coming into New Zealand, and would be backed by moves to speed up the vaccination rollout.
Part of the rollout included a move to focus more on first doses than ensuring full vaccination, and an extended period of six weeks between first and second doses.
The government also announced yesterday what to expect if the Delta variant of Covid comes to New Zealand. RNZ,
New Zealand will rapidly move to alert level four if a case of the Covid-19 Delta variant is detected in this country, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed.
Hipkins warned that even the gold standard of contact tracing is not enough alone to control the Delta variant, as is being seen in New South Wales and the variant was continuing to “wreak havoc”.
“Even the gold standard of contact tracing isn’t always enough to keep the delta variant at bay. We’ve seen that in New South Wales where they’ve previously stamped out Covid-19 cases very efficiently with their contact tracing system alone, but they’ve not managed to achieve that this time. Sydney, Australia’s largest city, is now in its seventh week of restrictions including stay-at-home order.”
He said the government would continue to use contact tracing but would also look to escalate alert levels quickly – either regionally or nationally – if cases were discovered. With Delta, this means a rapid move to alert level four is more likely if cases are found.
Ministry of Health page on Delta