New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday said nationwide coronavirus curbs would be lifted, bar in the biggest city of Auckland, as the country gets on top of an outbreak of the Delta variant.
New Zealand had been largely virus-free, excluding a small cluster of cases in February, until an infected traveler from Australia seeded an outbreak that prompted Ardern to impose the national lockdown last week.
Ardern, who said restrictions would be eased outside of Auckland from Wednesday, is continuing to pursue an elimination strategy for the disease.
“We are within sight of elimination, but we can’t drop the ball,” Ardern said at a televised news conference. “Day by day we are making very good progress. What I dont want to do is move too quickly and then see a resurgence.”
About 1.7 million people in greater Auckland, the epicenter of the outbreak, will remain in a full level 4 lockdown until at least Sept. 14.
The easing of the alert status to level 2 from level 3 in the rest of the country will allow the reopening of schools, offices and businesses. Regional travel will also be allowed.
Face masks will still be required inside most public venues, including shops and malls. Indoor hospitality venues will be limited to 50 patrons and outdoor venues to 100 people.
Daily new cases in the current outbreak have dropped from a peak of 85 on Aug. 29 to 20 on Monday.
The current outbreak is responsible for 821 of the country’s total of about 3,400 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. It has reported 27 deaths.
Ardern’s tough lockdowns and international border closure helped rein in COVID-19, but the government now faces questions over a delayed vaccine rollout and rising costs in a country heavily reliant on an immigrant workforce.
Just about 30 per cent of the country’s 5.1 million people has been fully vaccinated, the slowest pace among the wealthy nations of the OECD grouping.
China releases detained Canadians Kovrig, Spavor after extradition against Meng Wanzhou dropped
Quebec swiftly passes new bill to prohibit anti-vaccine protests near schools, hospitals
‘People will suffer and will die’: Emergency doctor says some health triage has begun in Alberta
Britain’s Prince Andrew accepts he has been served in US sex case
Canadian extradition judge frees China’s Huawei exec Meng Wenzhou
- Europe6 days ago
Volcano erupts on Spain’s Atlantic island of La Palma; lava theatens homes
- Other1 week ago
Ozone hole over Antarctica larger than usual, scientists say
- U.S1 week ago
Florida surpasses 50K COVID deaths after battling Delta wave
- Asia1 week ago
Idled taxis in Thailand go green with mini-gardens on car roofs
- Australia & NZ1 week ago
Melbourne police use capsicum spray on Australian lockdown protesters
- Lifestyle1 week ago
Hawaii’s famed ‘Stairway to Heaven’ may be removed in 2022
- Entertainment1 week ago
Elton John postpones tour for two years, in ‘considerable pain’ after a fall
- U.S1 week ago
Biden’s ‘summer of love’ with Europe hits an abrupt break-up