PM to chair APEC meeting on Covid; new health order requires border workers to get vaccine

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 12 Jul 2021, 3:03PM

PM to chair APEC meeting on Covid; new health order requires border workers to get vaccine

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 12 Jul 2021, 3:03PM

Jacinda Ardern has announced there will be an informal meeting of the Apec leaders this weekend to discuss Covid-19 - ahead of the formal meeting in November.

The meeting will be chaired by Ardern and held virtually.

Ardern said it was the first time such an unscheduled meeting of leaders had been held.

She said leaders would share information to help shape a coordinated economic response to Covid-19, and to bolster the health response.

US President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin had both confirmed they would take part in the meeting, which will be 1am Saturday NZ time.

Cabinet has just signed a new vaccination order, making it mandatory for all border workers to have had the Covid jab.

Response Minister Chris Hipkins says it will cover roughly 1800 unvaccinated frontline workers.

Just 54 per cent of port workers are vaccinated.

Hipkins says that isn't good enough and is much lower than the 82 per cent of airport workers.

He says sea ports present a Covid risk.

The rules come into effect on midnight Thursday - but unvaccinated workers have a few weeks grace to get the jab.

Ardern is also likely to be questioned about the vaccine rollout – the Government has signalled a move to ensure non-government workers at the border are also subject to compulsory vaccinations orders.

She will also address the plight of New Zealanders stranded in New South Wales for the last fortnight because of the outbreak there.

Managed flights are also set to begin to bring people home – but there are only 1000 places available in MIQ for the next two weeks, and up to 2,500 people waiting for flights.

Covid-19 Group Head of Response Planning and Readiness Graham MacLean said commercial flights would only operate subject to the number of spaces available in managed isolation facilities - approximately 1,000 rooms over the next two weeks.

After that, officials would decide if a further two-week cycle of rooms needs to be made available for NSW returnees.

"We are doing our best to make sure New Zealanders who need to get home can get home but people will need to be patient and need to understand that not all rooms will be available immediately," says MacLean.

The Prime Minister will also be questioned about the Government's roadmap out of Covid-19 ahead of a meeting of the economic and scientific advisory groups with Government officials tomorrow.

Those groups are charged with assessing information such as the level of vaccination that will make it safe to allow travel without quarantine – and the Prime Minister is expected to make announcements on that later in the year.

Ardern has said she is waiting to see what happened in other countries "experimenting" with opening their borders to vaccinated travellers before deciding where New Zealand should go.

New South Wales has recorded 112 new community cases of Covid-19 today - 34 of which were infectious while in the community.

The new cases take Sydney's outbreak to a total of 678 infections, reducing hopes of the lockdowns there ending soon.

Earlier, the Ministry of Health reported no new cases of Covid-19 in the community. There was one new MIQ case, who arrived from the Netherlands via Singapore, on July 9.