After stemming the spread of COVID-19, New Zealand will further ease its stringent measures over the next 10 days. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday, 11 May, that the country will be moving to level two in its four-tier plan for exiting the lockdown.
The Pacific country was under the maximum level four restrictions for over a month, scaling down to level three only in late April.
The further easing of restrictions to level two means that by Thursday, 14 May, malls, restaurants, gyms, cafes, playgrounds and cinemas will be allowed to reopen. Schools can reopen its doors starting Monday, 18 May, while bars will have to wait until 21 May before it could serve customers once again.
Gatherings will be limited to 10 people and social distancing measures will remain in place.
International travel will remain prohibited as the country’s borders remain shut except for returning citizens. Air New Zealand, however, will resume seven more domestic routes when the level two restrictions take effect.
“The upshot is that in 10 days’ time we will have reopened most businesses in New Zealand, and sooner than many other countries around the world. But that fits with our plan – go hard, go early – so we can get our economy moving again sooner, and so we get the economic benefit of getting our health response right,” the 39-year-old leader said at a news conference.
Despite the easing of restrictions, Ardern warned that “none of us can assume COVID is not with us” and urged her constituents to “be vigilant” as there are still risks.
New Zealand has been previously lauded for its strict but effective measures in containing the virus, having only 1,147 recorded cases and 21 deaths in a country of five million.