High vaccination rates of 90 per cent are the key to ending the need for lockdowns, while vaccination passports could also be on the cards - especially for those wanting to head to events, the Prime Minister says.
Jacinda Ardern told The AM Show this morning that having 90 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated or 76 per cent of the entire population could eliminate any need for tough stay-at-home orders and see restrictions eased.
It could also lead to more people self-isolating at home, shorter isolation periods and borders re-opening from next year including slowly re-introducing international students back into the country.
The Government was also considering introducing vaccination passports and these could be used for events to help give that industry more certainty.
Ardern's response comes as former Prime Minister Sir John Key this morning hammered home his strategy for re-opening the borders, which included creating tensions for people who chose not to get vaccinated rather than relying on the government's "fear and hope" strategy.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB, Key said the country needed to come up with some tension resilience to get people vaccinated.
Key said lockdowns had proven Kiwis were compliant - but the reality was they won't get the last 20 per cent without doing something radical like banning people from outdoor concerts.
"That's not a radical thing, by the way, our daughter was in Paris a few weeks ago ... and if you don't have your vaccine passport you're not going to get in there."
He suggested on Newshub that the Government should tell young people who were under no pressure to get vaccinated that they couldn't go to these events like Rhythm and Vines, or go to a nightclub, or get on a flight and then see how many of them still think spoons will stick to their left arm where they are getting the vaccine put in.
"If you are Destiny Church or you're these bunch of people I see protesting all the time - they are never going to change their minds, so what are you telling me - the country is never going to open up?"
Key said if someone chose not to take the vaccine, it was their personal responsibility and called on the Government to take some leadership and set a number around how many people needed to be vaccinated and when the border would re-open.
Lockdowns were costing New Zealand about a billion dollars a week and he feared it would catch up on the country later down the track when it wouldn't be able to afford the latest drug or more policing because it was paying the interest on that debt. While the country remained in lockdowns, small businesses were also quietly going broke.
Hospitality NZ Auckland president, Jamie Freeman, told TVNZ the hospitality sector in Auckland has lost up to $358 million in the first two weeks of the level 4 lockdown - equating to about $23 million a day.
Freeman said some businesses will be weeks if not days away from permanent closure as a result and extra financial support from the government was the only thing likely to keep them afloat.
"Once you're closed, once the trade's gone - you can't bounce back."