7 Sep 2021

Covid-19 update: PM says govt close to securing additional vaccine deals

2:41 pm on 7 September 2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the government is close to securing additional vaccine deals.

Watch the Covid-19 update here:

In today's Covid-19 update, Ardern said the government at the beginning of the outbreak decided to stand up additional vaccine surge capacity, but this meant it needed to secure additional supplies.

"These rapid negotiations have been taking place behind the scenes for the past few weeks," she said.

"As a result of these efforts we are now finalising arrangements that secure additional supply in September. This will enable us to maintain our extraordinary vaccination rates throughout september until our bulk deliveries land in October."

Ardern said there was more than one country involved in the additional Pfizer dose deals.

She said these circumstances had been very particular to the outbreak.

"We just wanted to keep that surge going, vaccinate as many people as possible," Ardern said.

"We always knew that we did have some limitations on supply ... there was never a chance of running out but we didn't want to dampen down the demand that we saw."

Ardern said there were 682,000 vaccines in stock, 510,000 of those in sites across the country.

Asked if New Zealand had sought an earlier increase in supply before the outbreak, she said we had been meeting the demand that was there, and the big deliveries were expected in October, so it was a matter of ensuring supply just for a few weeks.

She said there were no words to describe how complex the vaccine-sharing deals were and urged people to get vaccinated.

The National Party has called for the Pacific and Māori vaccine plans to be released. Bloomfield says the ministry would be happy to release those details and Ardern says she believes it would be helpful to have people give their views at select committees as well.

On today's case numbers, Dr Bloomfield says there are 21 new community cases of Covid-19 in the country today.

Wanting to clear up some misunderstandings, Ardern said on the wage subsidy, all businesses remained eligible to apply so long as any part of the country remained in level 4. She said this for example meant businesses in Queenstown can apply while Auckland was in lockdown.

Ardern said by and large the businesses that were required to do record keeping were often those businesses which kept records anyway, such as hospitality and hairdressers.

On masks, she said the major changes were you must wear a mask inside any retail businesses - including malls and shops - public venues, but it was not a requirement where eating and drinking was required. The requirement does not apply to clients in gyms either.

"In general though, if you're around people you don't know it is a good idea to wear a mask."

She said buses, trains and ferries will no longer be allowed to carry standing passengers, to ensure appropriate spacing.

She said this may mean some people would be required to wait for the next trip.

Ardern said in churches, there is not a requirement to use masks but there was a requirement for record keeping.

People will be able to transit through Auckland to reach or exit Northland, so long as you have proof of where you are going. People can travel for work, or for personal reasons such as attending a funeral or tangihanga.

She said there may be more traffic at the boundary but police have planned for this. She asked people who don't have a legitimate reason to travel through Auckland not to make the journey.

Asked how the Auckland border transit rules will be enforced, she said people can be stopped and questioned at the border but it is "a bit more light touch".

On travel, Bloomfield said the public health advice regarding pre-departure testing in NSW was that it was safer for people not to go out into the community in NSW and seek a test.

Meanwhile, National is calling for rapid antigen testing to be part of the toolbox.

Ardern said the government was exploring those possibilities but was seeking advice from the expert testing advisory group.

Bloomfield said rapid antigen testing was more useful when the virus was already in the community, but with the elimination strategy it was not appropriate because we want to use more accurate testing to find every single case.

He said it might be used in future, for example at the border, when New Zealand considered moves to open up wider to the world.

Yesterday, Ardern announced that regions outside of Auckland will move to alert level 2 from 11.59pm. But it is not level 2 like in previous lockdowns, instead "delta 2", as she coined it, comes with new rules.

They also confirmed essential workers crossing alert level boundaries will be required to undergo weekly testing.

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