New Zealand: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged that the “Covid zero” goal of eliminating the coronavirus in New Zealand would be dropped and that restrictions would be gradually lifted in Auckland.
Her announcement on Monday came seven weeks into a lockdown that has failed to halt an outbreak of the Delta variant. The move marked the end to the aggressive strategy the country has pursued for a year and a half, closing borders and quickly enforcing lockdowns over even a few cases to keep the virus in check.
Early in the pandemic, New Zealand won praise for its approach, but it has become less tenable with the highly contagious Delta variant. Now, Ardern said, New Zealand will work to achieve widespread vaccination.
Auckland: New Zealand is still reporting dozens of new cases a day, almost all of them in Auckland, its biggest city, after the latest outbreak began in mid-August. The mood there has soured as a lockdown stretched on.
Quotable: “For this outbreak, it’s clear that long periods of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases,” Ardern said. “What we have called a long tail,” she added, “feels more like a tentacle that has been incredibly hard to shake.”