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Prime Minister says New Zealand will not open border to the world this year - January 26, 2021

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  • Prime Minister says New Zealand will not open border to the world this year - January 26, 2021

    hat tip Jason Gale

    posted with permission

    Ardern Says New Zealand Won’t Open Border to The World This Year
    2021-01-26 03:50:06.321 GMT

    By Matthew Brockett
    (Bloomberg) -- New Zealand is likely to keep its border
    closed to the world through most of 2021 amid uncertainty over
    the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
    “We can expect our borders to be impacted for much of this
    year,” Ardern told a news conference Tuesday in Wellington. “We
    will continue to pursue travel bubbles with Australia and the
    Pacific, but the rest of the world simply poses too great a risk
    to our health and our economy to take a risk at this stage.”
    New Zealand’s success in combating the virus has allowed it
    to lift restrictions and get its economy moving again much
    sooner than initially expected, but the closed border is
    decimating its tourism industry. While the government today
    announced it expects to give regulatory approval for the
    Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine next week, Ardern said mass immunization
    will not begin until midyear and she was taking a “conservative”
    approach to letting foreigners into the country again.
    “For travel to restart we need one of two things,” she
    said. “We either need the confidence that being vaccinated means
    you don’t pass Covid-19 on to others -- and we don’t know that
    yet -- or we need enough of our population to be vaccinated and
    protected that people can safely re-enter New Zealand. Both
    possibilities will take some time.”
    Ardern sounded pessimistic on the possibility of a safe
    travel zone with Australia any time soon. While talks would
    continue, “it does look increasingly difficult at a country-by-
    country level,” she said, adding “we haven’t ruled out the
    possibility of state-by-state.”
    Australia started allowing quarantine-free travel for New
    Zealanders last year but suspended that this week when New
    Zealand reported one case of Covid-19 in the community. Ardern
    expressed disappointment at Australia’s decision. The case
    involving a woman who tested positive after leaving managed
    isolation is “well under control,” she said.
    “If we are to enter into a Trans-Tasman bubble, we will
    need to be able to give people confidence that we won’t see
    closures at the borders that happen with very short notice over
    incidents that we believe can be well managed domestically,” she
    New Zealand aims to begin immunizing workers at its managed
    isolation facilities this quarter, but Ardern was unable to say
    when the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will arrive in the country. The
    vaccine is expected to get to New Zealand around the same time
    as it gets to Australia, which is slated for mid-to-late
    February, she said.
    “New Zealand will have its house in order so we will be
    ready to receive, but ultimately we will be in the hands of
    pharmaceutical companies’ delivery timelines,” Ardern said.