News New Zealand to allow home isolation to travelers

New Zealand to allow home isolation to travelers

New Zealand’s prime minister says the government will start a pilot program of home-isolation for overseas travelers, ahead of what she expects to be increasing vaccination levels.

Currently New Zealanders have to quarantine in hotels for two weeks when they return home from abroad.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday a pilot program that will allow New Zealanders to quarantine at home will include 150 business travelers who arrive between Oct. 30 and Dec. 8. The program will involve monitoring and testing.

“The only reason that we are running this self-isolation pilot now is in preparation for a highly vaccinated population,” Ardern said.

“The intention is that in the first quarter of 2022 when more New Zealanders are vaccinated, it will be safer to run self-isolation at home,” she added.

Of the eligible population in New Zealand aged 12 and older, 43% had been fully vaccinated, Ardern said.

In Auckland, the nation’s most populous city which has been locked down since Aug. 17 after the highly-contagious delta variant leaked from hotel quarantine, 82% of the eligible population had at least a single dose of the double-shot Pfizer vaccine, she said.

New Zealand has taken an unusual zero-tolerance approach to the coronavirus and has been trying to completely eliminate the delta variant.