New Zealand Ends All Pandemic Restrictions Outside Of Auckland
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced the end of coronavirus restrictions in all areas outside of Auckland following a decrease in new cases.
The country has been praised for the way it responded to the global outbreak and earlier this year it appeared to have kicked the virus to the curb as it succeeded in going longer than three months without recording a single case of community transmission of coronavirus.
Restrictions were eased, but a fresh outbreak in Auckland prompted officials to put the city back into lockdown last month.
Today, September 21, Ardern announced the lifting of restrictions across the country, though she noted that while some measures could be eased in Auckland, the city needed more time before all curbs could be lifted, The Guardian reports.
Speaking to reporters in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, Ardern said:
Our actions collectively have managed to get the virus under control. This was the centre of the outbreak and that’s why that caution is needed here.
As of 11.59pm tonight, residents outside Auckland will no longer be required to wear masks on public transport or limit their social gatherings to 100 people. The move to so-called ‘level 1’ rules means a return largely to normal life, and the news has been celebrated online by residents.
Auckland’s rules will ease at 11:59pm on Wednesday to allow gatherings of up to 100 people, instead of 10, though businesses will be required to maintain physical distancing and masks will still be mandatory on planes and public transport.
Ardern told reporters there is ‘no costless response to COVID, no matter what your strategy is.’ The prime minister, who faces an election in October, also pointed out that New Zealand’s economy was ‘more open than that of nearly any other country in the world.’
Though restrictions have lifted, Ardern urged residents to continue using the government’s contact tracing app, employ good hygiene, and stay at home if they were unwell.
The country reported no new cases today, with its total number of cases at 1,815 and the total number of fatalities at 25 – far fewer than other countries, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
There are currently 62 active cases of coronavirus in New Zealand, though Ardern said a health ministry analysis indicated there was still only a 50-50 chance of having eliminated the virus by the end of the month, indicating the need for vigilance.
Auckland’s restrictions will next be reviewed by the cabinet on October 7.
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CreditsThe Guardian and 1 other
Johns Hopkins University