New Zealand drops Covid-19 restrictions after nation declared ‘virus-free

New Zealand has lifted almost all of its coronavirus restrictions after reporting no active cases in the country.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country had ‘united in unprecedented ways to crush the virus’.

On Monday, health authorities reported the country’s only case had recovered, meaning there are no active cases of Covid-19 across the country.

Health authorities also confirmed no new cases for 17 days straight, No one has received treatment at a hospital for the virus in the last 12 days, and the last virus case of community spread occurred 40 days ago.

New Zealand first went into lockdown on 25 March, setting up a new four-stage alert system and going in at level four, where most businesses were shut, schools closed and people told to stay at home.

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

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

The move to level one comes ahead of time – the government had originally planned to make the move on 22 June, but it was brought forward after no new cases were reported for 17 days.

The country’s strict border restrictions will remain in place, including managed isolation and quarantine for travelers.

But the rest of the country’s coronavirus measures will be lifted by midnight on Monday (1200 UTC) — meaning that public and private events can resume without curbs while the retain and hospitality industries can operate without social distancing measures.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) said that fans will once again be allowed into stadiums this weekend for the start of the country’s domestic rugby union competition.

Prime Minister Ardern celebrated the milestone, but also urged caution and patience in the months ahead.

“We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort,” she said at a press conference.

Ardern added that New Zealand “will almost certainly see cases here again, and that is not a sign that we have failed, it is a reality of this virus.”

New Zealand has reported a total of 1,504 confirmed and probably COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths.

 

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