New Zealand is continuing to uphold its reputation for having one of the world’s strictest and most effective approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, January 26 in a press conference, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the country’s borders will remain closed until its citizens are widely vaccinated.
According to Ardern, as reported by The Guardian, “New Zealand will only truly feel like it returns to normal when there is a certain level of morality in the rest of the world too. But given the risks in the world around us and the uncertainty of the global rollout of the vaccine, we can expect our borders to be impacted for much of this year.”
New Zealand’s first vaccine could earn regulatory approval as soon as Wednesday, so the vaccination process is expected to start soon. Unlike other countries, which are vaccinating older citizens first, New Zealand will prioritize border workers.
“For travel to restart,” said Ardern, “we need one of two things: 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.”