Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand will consider new travel bubbles if more people are vaccinated against COVID-19.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her government will investigate more travel bubbles and lead trade delegations later this year to reconnect with a post-pandemic world.
After the majority of New Zealand’s key workers were vaccinated against COVID-19 and vaccination for the general population was due to start in July, Ardern said Thursday that her government was now ready to re-establish contact with the rest of the world.
Ardern’s plan for a partial and gradual reopening comes after more than a year of tough border closure that has helped New Zealand – a Pacific nation of five million people – clear the coronavirus within its borders.
The first step in reopening New Zealand was a “travel bubble” with Australia that began last month.
Ardern said her government would also allow free travel under quarantine with the Cook Islands in the South Pacific on Monday.
“At this stage, when the introduction of vaccines in New Zealand is incomplete, the number of countries we can safely open up to are limited,” the Prime Minister said in a speech to the budget in Auckland.
“That’s because they have the same status as us or have the same low risk of bringing COVID into the country.
“Niue is the next natural addition. In addition, we are relatively open-minded and I expect there will be more countries that we can explore opportunities with, ”she said.
More than 70,000 people have landed in New Zealand from Australia since the travel bubble opened last month, and more than 57,000 have traveled the other direction, Ardern said.
However, she noted that the introduction of the vaccine in New Zealand was incomplete and limited the number of countries it could safely open.
The government intends to deliver more than 1 million doses of the COVID-19 jab by June, Ardern said, and expand the vaccination program to all New Zealanders over the age of 16 by July.
The Prime Minister also said she will lead a trade and advertising delegation to Australia in early July, her first since the advent of COVID-19, and she will also seek delegations to Europe, the US, China and the wider Asian region. Pacific Rim.
“These trips may not have been particularly noteworthy prior to COVID, but they are tremendously significant given the domestic realities we’ve experienced and the global realities that still persist,” Ardern said.