Sydney, Australia, Jan 26 (efe-epa).- New Zealand will likely keep its borders shut for most of 2021 despite the development of vaccines and retain its policy of opening air bubbles with neighboring countries that have contained COVID-19, the country’s prime minister said Tuesday.
“We can expect our borders to be affected for most of the year. We will continue to develop travel bubbles with Australia and the Pacific, but the rest of the world simply poses too high a risk to our health and our economy,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in an online press conference.
She said it is necessary to prove vaccines prevent the spread of COVID-19 or “to have a sufficient part of the population vaccinated and protected so that people may return to New Zealand healthy,” before borders can reopen to international tourism.
“Both possibilities are going to take some time … New Zealand will really feel like it returns to normal when there is a certain level of normality in the rest of the world,” she added.
Ardern said she was willing to adopt air bubbles with Australia and Pacific nations, but added that this would be difficult, especially with Australia, where each state imposes different restrictions on travelers.
She lamented Australia’s decision to reinstate the 14-day quarantine for New Zealand travelers who enter the country as a result of the Sunday detection of the first local contagion of COVID-19 since Nov. 18.
Authorities are investigating the origin of the case, a 56-year-old woman who traveled to Spain and the Netherlands for work and who, according to her first investigations, became infected during her confinement in a hotel in Auckland.
New Zealand has acted decisively since the beginning of the pandemic, allowing it to keep confirmed cases to 1,934, with 25 deaths and 64 active cases.
The country’s citizens have the right to return to New Zealand, but must be confined in government facilities for two weeks and present two negative PCR tests during confinement, in addition to the pre-trip test. EFE-EPA