New Zealand has lifted both its mask and vaccine mandates on Monday as the government moves to end some of the world’s harshest COVID-19 restrictions, some two years after they were first implemented. Some milder restrictions will remain in place, however.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated in her weekly briefing that it is time to safely turn the page on the pandemic and live without the measures that were first put in place with the onset of the pandemic:
Finally, rather than feeling that COVID dictates what happens to us, our lives, and our futures, we take back control.
For the first time in two years we can approach summer with the much needed certainty New Zealanders and business need, helping to drive greater economic activity critical to our economic recovery.
Throughout this past year, the Ardern government faced massive protests over her continued lockdowns as other governments around the world moved to lift their own restrictions.
According to the prime minister, all mask-wearing requirements were removed except in healthcare and assisted living facilities. Only individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for seven days, while their household contacts will no longer be required to do so.
Additionally, the government’s vaccine mandates will be scrapped on September 26, so employers will be able to decide on an individual basis if they want their workforce to be vaccinated, Zee News reported.
The New Zealand government previously dropped its zero-COVID policy once most of its population got the jab.