Sep 12, 2022 - Health
New Zealand dropping vaccine mandates and most mask requirements
New Zealand is dropping most pandemic restrictions, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday.
Why it matters: NZ once stamped out COVID-19 community cases with some of the world's toughest measures until the variants arrived and the government phased out its elimination strategy last October.
- The government then switched its response to mask and vaccine mandates, which Ardern pledged to lift once the threat of the Omicron variant had passed.
Driving the news: Ardern, at a news conference in Wellington, cited "the lowest cases and hospitalizations since February," a highly vaccinated population and access to antiviral medicines as she announced a phasing out of the government's pandemic measures.
- These include the removal of government vaccine mandates on Sept. 26, and international travelers will no longer be required to be vaccinated against COVID or submit results upon arrival from 11:59pm Monday local time.
- Mask mandates will be lifted in most places from that time.
What they're saying: "It's time to safely turn the page on our COVID-19 management," Ardern said.
- "We now move on to a simple two-requirements system of masks in healthcare settings and seven days isolation for positive cases only," Ardern added.
- "We move forward with confidence knowing that we're not going to use those measures in the future."
Go deeper: New Zealand borders fully reopen as COVID travel restrictions end