Allowing Covid-19 vaccinated travellers into New Zealand "remains a possibility", says Jacinda Ardern, as New Zealand begins to look to reconnect with the world.
A question the Prime Minister has posed twice this week has been around the future potential opening of New Zealand's borders to certain countries without bubble arrangements.
"We’ll continue to ask the question, is there a point at which we can start letting people into New Zealand based not on us having a bubble arrangement with their country, but because they’ve been vaccinated and they can prove it?"
"That does remain a possibility," Ardern said from Auckland today. "It will however be contingent on data, evidence, the view of experts."
Ardern said that 2020 was defined as phase one of New Zealand's Covid response - 'the keep it out phase'.
"We’re now entering phase two. A time and possibility of re-engagement. It is a phase that is both hugely challenging, but also hugely exciting."
Ardern said that over time, the Government would look to "incrementally increase quarantine-free travel, if we’re able, to other countries".
"What we will be looking for is if they have similar approaches to New Zealand around Covid and whether or not it’s safe to do so."
She said potential countries needed to meet a "very high bar".
Ardern then posed the question around letting Covid-19 vaccinated people enter New Zealand.
"We are keeping an open mind to the possibilities, while also focusing on keeping our people safe and the freedoms we have," she said.
"If the most significant thing we can do to help our recovery is to reconnect to the world, the most significant factor affecting our ability to do that will ultimately be vaccine update.
"We have at our disposal one of the best vaccines in the world and come July it will be available for free for everyone in New Zealand over the age of 16. But its full potential will only be realised if we achieve high uptake," Ardern said.
Ardern also touched on immigration today, flagging an upcoming speech by Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi on Monday.
"We want to shift the balance away from low skilled, low paid work towards attracting high skilled migrants and addressing genuine skill shortages in order to improve productivity," Ardern said.
"Minister Faafoi will also outline some of what’s happening around changes to attract targeted high value international investment to New Zealand - what many in this room have been calling for. Even while our borders are restricted we need to stay open for business, growth and development."