2021-10-05 11:01:28 Australia and New Zealand Inch Closer to Covid Reopening
Australia and New Zealand Inch Closer to Covid Reopening
On Tuesday, Australia and New Zealand took a step closer to fully reopening their economies in the coming months, with leaders in both countries outlining plans to allow people who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus to travel more freely.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated that Australia may allow vaccinated foreign tourists to enter the country as early as 2022, despite prioritizing travel by its own immunized citizens and permanent residents.
Skilled migrants and students who have been vaccinated would then be allowed in, he said in an interview with Channel Seven, reiterating recent announcements.
“We will have international visitors, I believe next year,” Mr. Morrison said. “Australians are the priority.”
The prime minister’s remarks were the most firm assurances of when the island nation’s borders would reopen to the rest of the world after closing them in March 2020. Millions of Australians have since been subjected to lengthy lockdowns and strict border policies as a result of the pandemic.
Mr. Morrison stated on Friday that an international travel ban would be lifted by mid-November as national vaccination rates rise. According to figures compiled from government sources by the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data project on Tuesday, 67 percent of Australians had received a first vaccine dose and 46 percent were fully vaccinated.
In neighboring New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Tuesday that people entering “high-risk settings,” such as summer music festivals, would be required to present a national vaccine certificate.
The certificate, which is expected to be introduced in November, will be a digital document that people can show or download and print.
Ms. Ardern said at a news conference that the government of New Zealand is still deciding where certificates will be used outside of large-scale events, but restaurants and bars are one possibility. They will not be required for grocery shopping or medical care, she added.
Ms. Ardern urged residents to get vaccinated before the passes became mandatory. “It’s one of the best ways we can ensure that our summer plans can proceed as planned,” she said. “It will assist us in keeping people safe.”
“You need to be vaccinated — this month, not in December — to be fully vaccinated and fully protected, and to enjoy the things you love,” she added.
The plan is similar to that of France and Israel, which have used similar passes to manage access to cafes, restaurants, and other services.
New Zealand also announced this week that, due to an uncontrollable outbreak of the Delta variant in Auckland, the country would abandon its zero-Covid plan, which had allowed residents to live with few restrictions throughout the pandemic.
As of Monday, nearly 80% of New Zealanders aged 12 and up had received one Covid vaccine dose, with approximately 48% having received two doses.