New Zealand will keep its borders closed for most of the world for the whole of 2021 as opening them poses a great risk to New Zealander’s health and country’s economy.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in her first post-cabinet meeting of 2021 said its border personnel would be the first to be vaccinated and within three weeks of the first shipment of the vaccines that arrive in New Zealand.

But New Zealand’s border will remain closed for the rest of the year for foreign nationals citing health risks of the country.

“…the world” need to return to some semblance of normality before she opens the country’s borders to foreign nationals,” Jacinda Ardern said.

New Zealand’s borders were shut to foreign nationals mid-March 2020, and on Tuesday, PM Ardern confirmed not opening it unless all New Zealanders were ‘vaccinated and protected’- the process of which will start for the general population by mid-2021.

“New Zealand will only truly feel like it returns to normal when there is a certain level of normality in the rest of the world, too,” Ardern said at her first post-cabinet press conference of the year.

Currently, New Zealand citizens can return home, but they must quarantine in a government-managed isolation facility for two weeks and return two negative tests and in addition to a negative test report before they depart from their host country to New Zealand.

The government will, at the same time continue to pursue travel bubbles with Australia and the Pacific nations- despite Australia suspended its one-way travel bubble after the new Northland community cases.

“In the meantime, we will continue to pursue travel bubbles with Australia and the Pacific, but the rest of the world simply poses too great a risk to our health and our economy to take the risk at this stage,” Ardern said.

Ministry of Health confirmed that the new community case in Northland has recovered while all 14 of her close contacts have tested negative. There are currently 68 cases in New Zealand (as of Wednesday, January 27) including one historical case and a community case.