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Live UpdatesJul 31 2022

Last Covid border closures end today

live-update-July-31-2022.jpg

Last Covid border closures end today

Jul 31 2022

Covid-19 latest: 806 hospitalisations, 4,238 community cases

There have been 23 deaths with Covid-19 over the last 24 hours.

The actual cause of death for these cases has not yet been confirmed. Updates on deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19 are only available on weekdays.

A total of 1,502 deaths have so far been confirmed as attributable to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor.

There have been 4,238 new community cases recorded. The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers is 7,183.

A total of 806 people have been hospitalised with Covid-19 over the past week. These are new hospital admissions in the past seven days prior to yesterday who had Covid at the time of admission or while in hospital, excluding hospitalisations that were admitted and discharged within 24hrs.

The seven day rolling average of hospitalisations is 810. This time last week it was 762.

More support payments on the table, says prime minister

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern won’t rule out further support payments to offset the effects of inflation. Speaking to Q&A’s Jack Tame this morning, she said her government had “tried to be agile to the circumstances” and would be monitoring what impacts the existing payments are having before deciding on its next moves.

Tomorrow sees the first tranche of the $350 cost of living payment land in the bank accounts of those who qualify. To be eligible for the payment, you must earn less than $70,000 a year and not qualify for the winter energy payment.

Jacinda Ardern wearing a red jacket
PM Jacinda Ardern speaks to Jack Tame on Q and A, July 31 2022

With around 2 million New Zealanders eligible for the cost of living payment, Ardern was asked whether she was concerned that the cash injection would further fuel inflation, currently running at 7.3% – the highest level in 32 years.

The government had decided on the payment as a solution that could “ease the pressure” of economic hardship, but “have as little impact as possible on inflation”, she said.

“The advice that we got from Treasury was the fact that it was time limited and targeted would lessen any potential impact on inflation. Compare that to alternative measures like tax cuts – not so, because it’s less targeted, less time bound.”

Ardern also defended the decision not to means test the winter energy payment, which currently goes to everyone on government benefits, including on NZ Super, arguing that the alternative would be not to pay the supplement at all.

Watch the full interview here.

 

New Zealand border open to all visitors from tonight

Aotearoa will be open to all arrivals, including those from non-visa waiver countries and international students, from 11.59pm tonight.

The maritime border will also open to cruise ships, specialist vessels and recreational vessels such as ocean-going yachts.

On May 11 the government announced the New Zealand border would re-open on July 31, two months earlier than the October re-opening date previously announced.

The border has been open since May 2 to 60 visa-waiver countries, including major tourism markets such as the UK, US, Germany, Japan and South Korea. Tonight marks the final step in the government’s reconnecting plan, with visitors from non-visa waiver countries and international students able to apply for a visa to enter New Zealand from tomorrow.

“Since April, visitors from our key markets such as Australia have been able to travel to New Zealand, and it’s great to see the recovery of the tourism sector back on track. We’re seeing a strong uptick in arrivals from Australia and the US, with Queenstown in particular receiving a surge in visitors,” said tourism minister Stuart Nash.

“Today’s change in border settings marks the final milestone for our reconnecting strategy. This is great news to the tourism industry and economy as we approach spring and summer with people from the northern hemisphere booking their winter holidays.”

Today’s changes in border settings means the resumption of key visa categories including students and visitors. Applications for the Accredited Employer Work Visa, New Zealand’s main work visa, opened on July 4.

“Prior to the pandemic, the international education sector was worth several billion dollars to our country and education providers,” said immigration minister Michael Wood.

“While we’ve continued to support the sector with border exceptions through the pandemic, the full resumption of visa processing is great news for our universities, polytechnics and wānanga, and schools, English language schools, and private training establishments.”