AP

New Zealand to remove pandemic mandates as omicron wanes

Mar 22, 2022, 6:35 PM | Updated: Mar 23, 2022, 6:15 pm

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand will remove many of its COVID-19 pandemic mandates over the next two weeks as an outbreak of the omicron variant begins to wane.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Wednesday that people will no longer need to be vaccinated to visit places like retail stores, restaurants and bars from April 4. Gone, too, will be a requirement to scan QR barcodes at those venues.

A vaccine mandate will be scrapped for some workers — including teachers, police officers and waiters — though it will continue for health care and aged-care workers, border workers and corrections officers.

Also gone from Friday is a limit on outdoor crowds of 100. That will allow some concerts and big sporting events like marathons to resume. An indoor limit of 100 people will be raised to 200 people, and could later be removed altogether.

Remaining in place is a requirement that people wear masks in many enclosed spaces, including in stores, on public transport and, for children aged 8 and over, in school classrooms.

Ardern said the government’s actions over the past two years to limit the spread of the coronavirus had saved thousands of lives and helped the economy.

“But while we’ve been successful, it’s also been bloody hard,” Ardern said.

“Everyone has had to give up something to make this work, and some more than others,” she said.

The changes mean that many restrictions will be removed before tourists start arriving back in New Zealand.

Earlier this month, the government announced that Australian tourists would be welcomed back from April 12 and tourists from many other countries, including the U.S., Canada, and Britain, from May 1.

International tourism used to account for about 20% of New Zealand’s foreign income and more than 5% of GDP but evaporated after the South Pacific nation imposed some of the world’s strictest border controls after the pandemic began.

New Zealand continues to see some of its highest rates of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations since the pandemic began, with an average 17,000 new infections being reported each day.

But Ardern said modeling shows that the biggest city of Auckland is already significantly past the peak of its omicron outbreak and the rest of the country will soon follow.

Health experts warned that some countries which had dropped restrictions as omicron faded were now experiencing another surge of cases.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows Iran's nuclear site in Isfahan, Iran, April 4, 2024...

Associated Press

Israel, Iran play down apparent Israeli strike. The muted responses could calm tensions — for now

Israel and Iran are both playing down an apparent Israeli airstrike near a major air base and nuclear site in central Iran.

23 hours ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after lawmakers pushed a $95 bill...

Associated Press

Ukraine, Israel aid advances in rare House vote as Democrats help Republicans push it forward

The House pushed ahead Friday on a foreign aid package of $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other sources of humanitarian support.

1 day ago

southern Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly...

Associated Press

Trial of a southern Arizona rancher charged in fatal shooting of unarmed migrant goes to the jury

Closing arguments were made against a southern Arizona rancher accused of shooting an undocumented migrant on his land to death on Thursday.

2 days ago

Donald Trump's hush money trial: 12 jurors selected...

Associated Press

Although 12 jurors were picked for Donald Trump’s hush money trial, selection of alternates is ongoing

A jury of 12 people was seated Thursday in former President Donald Trump's hush money trial. The proceedings are close to opening statements.

2 days ago

A anti-abortion supporter stands outside the House chamber, Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at the Capit...

Associated Press

Democrats clear path to bring proposed repeal of Arizona’s near-total abortion ban to a vote

Democrats in the Arizona Senate cleared a path to bring a proposed repeal of the state’s near-total ban on abortions to a vote.

3 days ago

Most Americans are sleepy new Gallup poll finds...

Associated Press

Most Americans say they don’t get enough sleep, according to new Gallup poll

A new Gallup poll found that most Americans are sleepy — or, at least, they say they are. Multiple factors play into this.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

New Zealand to remove pandemic mandates as omicron wanes