New Zealand Ends Lockdown As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Says Country Is Free From Coronavirus
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has put an end to lockdown after declaring the country free from coronavirus.
While stringent border controls remain in a bid to keep any new cases of the virus out, social distancing measures have been lifted after health officials revealed there were no known active cases of COVID-19.
At a press conference in Wellington, Ardern did a little dance of celebration after saying her nation had ‘united in unprecedented ways to crush the virus’.
Ardern has been heaped with praise from all around the world, including that of the World Health Organization for how her government approached the handling on the pandemic.
On March 25, the New Zealand government put the country into lockdown for four weeks, before gradually easing the restrictions in place.
From midnight tonight, June 8, restrictions will be lifted, allowing shops to reopen as normal and large groups to socialise together, meaning New Zealand will be a destination ‘where life feels as normal as we can in the time of a global pandemic’, Ardern said.
In March, when Ardern’s government opted to lockdown the country, New Zealand had around 200 confirmed cases of coronavirus – a number which peaked at no more than 1,500 cases.
Just 22 people died as a result of the virus in New Zealand, however scientists predicted this number could have been in the tens of thousands if restrictions had not been quickly introduced.
According to data put together by Google, people living in the country had ‘massively reduced their movements’, with more people staying home than those in Australia, Britain and the United States.
Ardern said, as The Guardian reports:
Our collective results I think speak for ourselves. This was what the sacrifice of our team of five million was for – to keep one another safe and to keep one another well.
At this point in time, Ardern says strict border controls will remain in place in New Zealand, with no clear timeline for when they will be removed. New Zealand residents and their immediate families are the only people eligible to enter the country, however they must spend 14 days in a government-run quarantine on their arrival.
The prime minister says New Zealand will almost certainly see cases in the country at some point in the future, explaining ‘it is a reality of the virus’.
For now, those living in New Zealand can get back to some form of normality once again.
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