New Zealand borders fully reopen as COVID travel restrictions end – Axios

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday the country is now “open for business,” hours after the country completed the final stage of its phased border reopening.

Why it matters: New Zealand shut its border to most foreign visitors in March 2020 as the pandemic spread as the government implemented some of the world’s toughest measures to try and keep COVID-19 out.

  • The reopening of the border to all student and visitor visa applicants as well as allowing cruise ships and foreign recreational yachts to dock from a minute to midnight Sunday was the final step of the country’s reopening strategy as it seeks to boost tourism.

The big picture: After the arrival of Omicron in New Zealand the government last year moved away from an elimination strategy toward one focused on vaccinations.

  • NZ now operates under a “traffic light” framework of pandemic measures. It is currently in the “orange” setting with no capacity restrictions on venues, though face masks are required to enter places like grocery stores unless people have exemptions.

By the numbers: The seven-day rolling average for cases has declined to 6,990, compared to 8,498 the previous week, according to NZ Ministry of Health figures.

  • The total of 1,502 people have died of the virus in the country of 5 million as of Monday,

What they’re saying: “It’s been a staged and cautious process on our part since February, as we, alongside the rest of the world, continue to manage a very live global pandemic, while keeping our people safe,” Ardern said in a speech to the China Business Summit in Auckland on Monday.


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