Jacinda Ardern shuts New Zealand borders till early 2022 to keep Covid-19 out

Shut for over 18 months, New Zealand will open up in phases from early next year.

<p>New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced plans to keep the country’s borders closed till early next year. </p>

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced plans to keep the country’s borders closed till early next year.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced plans to keep the country's borders closed at least till this year's end in a bid to keep the coronavirus outbreak outside its border amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The country will allow quarantine-free entry to vaccinated travellers from low-risk Covid-19 hit countries only from early 2022, she said on Thursday.

New Zealand will also speed up its vaccination strategy and increase the gap between two doses to ensure the population is at least partially vaccinated, the prime minister said.

Ardern, in a speech on plans to open up New Zealand to the rest of the world, underlined that the New Zealand is still not ready to open up entirely and will open up in phases from early next year.

"We’re simply not in a position to fully reopen just yet," she said.

The 41-year-old leader who has helped New Zealand script success in handling the disease outbreak said that they will move carefully and with deliberation. "...because we want to move with confidence and with as much certainty as possible," she said.

The country also faces pressure to boost the economy by opening up to aid private business and local trade.

In a new risk-based model, New Zealand will open quarantine-free travel to vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries in the first quarter of 2022.

This will be followed by travellers from medium-risk countries who will undertake self-isolation or a shorter stay at a quarantine hotel. Travellers from high-risk countries and the unvaccinated people will have to quarantine for 14 days.

The island country has succeeded in containing the infectious disease outbreak with the help of tight border restrictions. So far, New Zealand has seen 2,500 cases and 26 deaths in a population of 5 million. Owing to its strategy of strict isolation, the nation continues to be nearly cut-off from the rest of the world in the last 18 months of pandemic.

After the highly transmissible Delta variant ravaged nations across the globe, Ardern suspended the "travel bubble" with Australia last month to control the outbreak.

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