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Domestic borders around Auckland to reopen

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Domestic borders around Auckland to reopen

Auckland borders covid
Photo: Fiona Goodall/Reuters

Domestic borders around Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, will reopen today.

New Zealand’s government cut Auckland off from the rest of the country more than 3 months ago after it became the epicenter of an outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19. That outbreak has tested the government’s ‘zero-COVID’ strategy.

The decision to reopen Auckland’s borders even as COVID-19 continues to circulate in the city signals that the government is abandoning its zero-COVID strategy and shifting to a vaccination and mitigation-based strategy. Consequently, the government has begun to loosen the harsh international border controls implemented earlier in the pandemic.

Many in the tourism industry argue that the controls are not being loosened sufficiently. New Zealand’s international borders will not reopen until late April, and even then, visitors are required to quarantine for seven days, complicating casual sightseeing trips. Tourism is deeply important to New Zealand: it generated roughly 10% of the country’s pre-pandemic GDP.

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A relatively unprofitable season could exacerbate the country’s economic woes of high inflation and a rapidly overheating housing market. Do not expect the government to loosen its border controls further, though: pandemic mitigation and containment trumps economic concerns for the incumbent Labour administration.

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