By NICK PERRY Associated Press
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – The New Zealand government set an ambitious goal on Friday to fully immunize 90% of all eligible people to end coronavirus lockdowns.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had been pressured to open a path to freedom for people living in Auckland, who have been in detention for more than two months.
Under the new framework, people living in the larger city will regain much of their freedoms once 90% of people 12 and older in each of the three districts are fully immunized.
Other areas of the country without community spread of the virus will be granted even broader freedoms once they reach the 90% target. However, people will be required to use new vaccination certificates to visit places like bars, restaurants and gyms.
The government has also pledged more money to help businesses struggling with the lockdown restrictions and to increase vaccinations among indigenous Maori, whose rates are lagging behind.
New Zealand’s vaccination target is set higher than in many other countries, but Ardern said Auckland could meet it in a matter of weeks.
However, as vaccination rates have risen, health officials are finding it increasingly difficult to convince remaining holdouts to get bitten.
Currently, 89% of eligible Aucklanders have received at least one dose and 73% have received both doses, a rate slightly above the national average.