By Stephen Wright
WELLINGTON, New Zealand--New Zealand's reopening from the pandemic will be tied to limiting the freedoms of unvaccinated people and achieving a 90% vaccination rate, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday.
Outlining a plan to stop using lockdowns to control the spread of Covid-19, Ms. Ardern said ordinary activities such as getting a haircut or going to the gym "will be out of reach" to people who aren't vaccinated against Covid-19.
Businesses that open to unvaccinated people also would face restrictions. The system, which would not restrict access to essential businesses and services such as supermarkets and medical care, will be policed with vaccination certificates.
"If you want summer, if you want to go to bars and restaurants. Get vaccinated. If you want to get a haircut. Get vaccinated," Ms. Ardern said. "If you want to go to a concert, or a festival, get vaccinated. If you want to go to a gym, or sports events, get vaccinated."
About 68% of adults in New Zealand are fully vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer jab. In the largest city, Auckland -- in a lockdown since mid-August -- the vaccination rate is 74%.
New Zealand has about 5,000 cases of Covid-19 and few deaths because of a strict initial lockdown in early 2020, a border closure and its remote island geography. The government recently abandoned its goal of completely stamping out Covid-19, which had become untenable because of the more contagious Delta variant becoming endemic in many countries.
The government's announcements on Friday didn't give a timeframe for opening the border.
Ms. Ardern said the government would stop using lockdowns once all 20 regions -- defined by the borders of district health authorities -- reach 90% vaccination. Auckland would move to the new regime for controlling Covid-19 once its three health districts reach 90% vaccination.
The government also promised more support for businesses affected by the current restrictions, totaling nearly 2 billion New Zealand dollars ($1.4 billion) a month.
Write to Stephen Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires