New Zealand Sets 90% Vaccination Goal To End Lockdowns

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New Zealand Sets 90% Vaccination Goal To End Lockdowns
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said vaccine certificates will be required before people are admitted to bars, restaurants, gyms and other businesses.

New Zealand's government on Friday set an ambitious target of fully vaccinating 90% of all eligible people to end coronavirus lockdowns.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had been under pressure to provide a pathway to freedom for people living in Auckland, who have been in lockdown for more than two months.

Under the new framework, people living in the largest city will regain many of their freedoms once 90% of people 12 and older across each of three districts are fully vaccinated.

Other parts of the country without community spread of the virus will gain even broader freedoms once they hit the 90% target. However, people will be required to use new vaccine certificates to visit places like bars, restaurants and gyms.

The government also promised more money to help businesses struggling under the lockdown restrictions and to boost vaccinations among Indigenous Maori, whose rates have been lagging.

New Zealand's vaccination target is set higher than in many other countries, but Ardern said Auckland could reach it within weeks.

Currently 89% of eligible Aucklanders have had at least one dose and 73% have had both doses, a rate slightly ahead of the national average.

The new plan requires each of 20 health districts in New Zealand to reach the 90% target.

Ardern didn't directly address what would happen if some places fell short of the goal, although indicated there could be some flexibility if they were close.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.