New Zealand will no longer pursue a complete eradication of COVID-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday.
The Associated Press reported: ''Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a cautious plan to ease lockdown restrictions in Auckland, despite an outbreak there that continues to simmer. Since early in the pandemic, New Zealand had pursued an unusual zero-tolerance approach to the virus through strict lockdowns and aggressive contact tracing.''
Ardern said in a press conference: ''With this outbreak, and delta, the return to zero is incredibly difficult,'' and that ''This is a change in approach we were always going to make over time. Our delta outbreak has accelerated this transition. Vaccines will support it.''
''It's clear that a long period of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases. But that is OK. Elimination was important because we didn't have vaccinations. Now we do, so we can begin to change the way we do things,'' Ardern continued.
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported: ''Auckland residents will be able to leave their homes to connect with loved ones outdoors from Wednesday, with a limit of 10 people. Early childhood education will also return, but retail and hospitality outlets and offices will still remain shut.''
The remaining lockdown restrictions for Auckland will be lifted in phases, Ardern said.
Roughly 65% of New Zealanders have had one dose of the vaccine, and 40% are fully vaccinated, and among people ages 12 and older, approximately 79% have had at least one dose, the AP added.
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