New Zealand to keep borders closed until country 'vaccinated and protected'

Cheryl Sanders
January 27, 2021

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has spoken to his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, about the change and border authorities are seeking to communicate with passengers.

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern said today that the county may close its border for most part of the year amid the global vaccine rollout.

She said free travel looks "increasingly hard at a country-by-country level", given Australia's recent suspension of existing arrangements after a new case of COVID-19 was detected in the NZ community.

Ms Ardern also announced New Zealand's regulatory authority, MedSafe, may give preliminary approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week.

The South African variant of the virus is believed to be more contagious, but there is now no evidence that it causes more serious illness.

"For travel to restart, 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".

Corona Response Minister Chris Hipkins said corona vaccines will play a key role in protecting New Zealanders' health and wellbeing and, over time, will be a big step back to normality.

The infected patient, a 56-year-old woman who recently returned from Europe, is said to have visited nearly 30 places in New Zealand before her case was detected.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the federal government had received advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee of a "significant case of concern" in New Zealand regarding the South African variant. Then, months will be required to inoculate the population.

A tough lockdown and geographical isolation helped the country of 5 million virtually eliminate the novel coronavirus within its borders.

In October 2020, the Australian government opened its borders to travellers from New Zealand, allowing New Zealanders who have not been in an area designated as the COVID-19 hotspot in the preceding 14 days to travel quarantine-free to Australia.

NZ officials believe their latest community case - a 56-year-old Northland woman - caught the virus while in quarantine.

The new strain has so far been detected in 13 countries, including Australia that confirmed 13 cases in hotel quarantine previous year.

Other reports by iNewsToday