New Zealand’s government says it will expand a vaccine mandate to include thousands of workers who have close contact with their customers — including those at restaurants, bars, gyms and hair salons.
The changes will mean that about 40 per cent of all New Zealand workers will need to get fully vaccinated against the coronavirus or risk losing their jobs.Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she didn’t believe the new rules were an overreach of government power, but would ensure customers and employees are treated equally.
The government had already introduced a vaccine mandate for workers in certain sectors, including those who operate in the health and eduction sectors.
New Zealand is aiming to get 90 per cent of all people aged 12 and up fully vaccinated to put an end to lockdowns. According to the health ministry, 71 per cent of the country’s eligible population is fully vaccinated.
As part of its plan to end lockdowns, New Zealand will also require people visiting high-traffic businesses to show vaccine passports to prove they’ve had their shots.
The island nation has seen a total of 28 related deaths and 5,822 cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak of the global pandemic.
-From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 6:45 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of early Tuesday morning, more than 244.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus case-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.9 million.
Moderna said it will make up to 110 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine available to African countries. Tuesday’s announcement says Moderna is prepared to deliver the first 15 million doses by the end of this year, with 35 million in the first quarter of 2022 and up to 60 million in the second quarter.
It said “all doses are offered at Moderna’s lowest tiered price.” The company called it “the first step in our long-term partnership with the African Union.” Africa and its 1.3 billion people remain the least-vaccinated region of the world against COVID-19, with just over five per cent fully vaccinated.
In the Middle East on Monday, health officials reported 7,516 new cases of COVID-19 and 140 additional deaths.
In Europe, the EU’s drug regulator said it has concluded in its review that Moderna’s COVID-19 booster vaccine may be given to people aged 18 years and above, at least six months after the second dose.
In the Americas, Venezuela reopened public schools and universities, which serve more than 11 million students, though some schools remained closed for repairs or because of lack of staff.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., New York City’s police union filed a lawsuit against a vaccine mandate for municipal workers ordered last week by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia is reportedly finalizing a deal with Merck & Co to procure its experimental antiviral pills to treat COVID-19 ailments.
-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 6:45 a.m. ET
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