New Zealand Eases Border Restrictions Amid Ongoing Omicron COVID-19 Spread

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the emergence of the omicron variant did not change the country’s plans to ease restrictions in Auckland and move the nation into a new, more open phase of its pandemic response.

On Monday, Ardern said the country would try to live with the COVID-9 virus later this week, despite the new omicron variant posing a new health threat to the world.

New Zealand would move into a new “traffic light” system from Friday, rating regions as red, orange, or green depending on their COVID-19 level of exposure and vaccination rates. 

Auckland, the epicenter of the delta outbreak, was rated red, making face masks mandatory and putting limits on gatherings at public places.

Around the country, people would need proof of vaccination to guarantee participation in anything from getting a haircut to watching a concert.

While there were no cases of the omicron variant in New Zealand, Ardern said the developing global situation showed why a cautious approach was needed at the borders.

“Omicron is a reminder of the risk that still exists at our borders,” Ardern added.

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