(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern set a vaccination target of 90% for Auckland to exit lockdown and for more freedoms to be restored around the rest of the country.
Once 90% of the eligible population aged 12 and over is fully vaccinated, the government will begin to ease restrictions and introduce a new traffic-light system to gauge the level of risk in each region, Ardern told a news conference Friday in Wellington. The government will measure vaccination rates for each District Health Board around the country, she said.
“A target of 90% fully vaccinated across each DHB region has been set as the milestone to trigger moving the country into the new system,” Ardern said. “This target ensures good regional spread across the country and will also help address equity issues within each region.”
Auckland, the nation’s largest city, has been in lockdown for more than two months while mask-wearing and social distancing is required throughout New Zealand. The country had pursued a strict elimination strategy but has been unable to beat an outbreak of the delta variant in Auckland, with daily new case numbers climbing in recent weeks.
“Our current alert level framework and elimination strategy kept us safe and the economy functioning while we vaccinated but now as more Kiwis are protected by the vaccine we need a new plan to that moves away from lockdowns as our primary defence against the virus,” Ardern said.
Currently around 68% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, while 86% has had at least one shot.
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