New Zealand has abandoned plans to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next year, and will move the forum online instead, officials said Tuesday.
The gathering of world leaders from nearly two dozen nations, including the United States, wasn’t slated to take place until November 2021. But New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister, Winston Peters, said that the event’s logistics require “a large volume of high-level visitors” entering the country as soon as late 2020 for planning and security purposes. New Zealand’s borders remain sealed to the outside world, and Peters said in a Tuesday statement that officials “simply couldn’t guarantee these people would be able to enter New Zealand without being quarantined.”
Upward of 20,000 people were expected to attend the trade-oriented summit, which will instead be held as a virtual conference, according to AFP.
New Zealand has effectively eliminated community spread of the coronavirus, and earlier this month lifted all restrictions aside from a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people traveling from overseas. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that calls to reopen the island nation’s borders were “frankly dangerous” and that the country’s success in containing the outbreak could easily be undone.