New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Wellington International Airport on April 13, 2022 in Wellington, New Zealand. New Zealand scrapped mask-wearing rules and vaccine mandates on Monday, ending some of the world’s toughest Covid-19 pandemic rules nearly two years after they were introduced.
Hagen Hopkins | Getty Images News | Getty Images
New Zealand scrapped mask-wearing rules and vaccine mandates on Monday, ending some of the world’s toughest Covid-19 pandemic rules nearly two years after they were introduced.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at her weekly press conference that it was time to safely turn the page on the country’s Covid-19 management and live without the extraordinary measures used in the past.
“Finally, instead of feeling like Covid is dictating what happens to us, our lives and our future, we’re taking back control,” Ardern said.
“For the first time in two years, we can approach summer with the much-needed confidence that New Zealanders and businesses need, helping to stimulate the economic activity that is critical to our economic recovery,” she added.
All mask-wearing requirements have been lifted, except for health and elderly care facilities. Only those positive for Covid-19 will have to self-isolate for seven days, while household contacts no longer need to, the government said in a statement.
All government vaccine mandates will also be lifted on September 26, Ardern said, adding that it will now be up to employers to decide whether they require their workforce to be vaccinated.
The government will also waive all vaccination requirements for arriving travelers and crew.
New Zealand’s quick response to the pandemic, strict pandemic regulations and its geographic isolation kept it largely free of the virus until late last year.
This year, the government abandoned the zero-infection policy for COVID-19 after the population was largely vaccinated. Since then, the virus has been allowed to spread. There have been 1,950 deaths and about 1.7 million confirmed cases of Covid-19.