New Zealand to lift all restrictions as it declares itself virus-free

New Zealand to lift all restrictions as it declares itself virus-free
New Zealand has been widely praised for its handling of the crisis. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: New Zealand is set to lift almost all coronavirus restriction measures within hours as the country reports no active cases in the country.

At midnight local time (12:00 GMT), it will move to level one, the lowest of its four-tier alert system.

Under this, there will be no limits on public gatherings and social distancing will no longer be required, but borders will remain closed.

New Zealand has reported no new Covid-19 cases for more than two weeks.

The country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters she did “a little dance” when she was told the country no longer had any active virus cases.

She said: “While we’re in a safer, stronger position there’s still no easy path back to pre-Covid life, but the determination and focus we have had on our health response will now be vested in our economic rebuild.”

“While the job is not done, there is no denying this is a milestone. So can I finish with a very simple, ‘Thank you, New Zealand’.”

New Zealand closed its borders at a very early stage of the outbreak there. It first went into lockdown on 25 March, setting up a new four-stage alert system and going in at level four, where schools were closed, people tod to stay at home and most businesses were shut.

After more than five weeks, the country moved to level three in April, allowing some non-essential businesses and takeaway food shops to re-open.

The country moved into level two in mid-May, as the number of community cases continued to decline.

The government had originally meant to make the move to level one on 22 June, but it was brought forward after no new cases were reported for 17 days, say local media outlets.

All schools and workplaces will be open under the new rules. Public transport, weddings and funerals will be able to resume without any restrictions.

However, all New Zealanders arriving from abroad will still have to go through mandatory 14-day isolation or quarantine.

The Prime Minister warned that the country would “certainly see cases again”, adding that “elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort”.

New Zealand has seen 22 deaths and 1,154 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the virus arrived in late February, but has been widely praised for its handling of the coronavirus crisis.

For many, the latest announcement is a cause for celebration – but not without caution.

You may read: How New Zealand beat the coronavirus