New Zealand lifts Restrictions due to COVID-19
New Zealand will almost completely lift its blockade due to the coronavirus this week, with only the epicenter of the infection in the Auckland country remaining under strict restrictions, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.
About three million New Zealanders will no longer be locked in their homes from Tuesday night, and schools will reopen on Thursday for the first time in three weeks, Ardern said. But she added that Auckland, where the outbreak of the Delta variant in the country appeared at the end of last month, will remain under strict blockade for at least another week, as the virus has not yet been stopped in the city of two million.
Ardern said there had been positive progress in reducing the number of cases, but the highly transmission version of the Delta "changes the game", which means that the restrictions in Auckland cannot be eased too soon.
"We have done well to control this outbreak, the level 4 restrictions (hard blocking) are working, but the work is not done," she said. "We're one step away from elimination, but we can't drop the ball."
New Zealanders outside Auckland will move to a second-level alert on the country's four-step coronavirus response system. This means that orders to stay at home have been revoked, but the freedoms enjoyed before the outbreak in Auckland - when life in New Zealand was almost normal - will not be fully restored.
Indoor gatherings will be limited to 50 people, with the obligatory wearing of a mask and scanning of tracking applications in many places.
The epidemic ended a six-month cycle without local transmission in New Zealand, which was one of the world's last coronavirus-free zones and won widespread praise for its response to the pandemic.
A 90-year-old woman on Saturday became the first person to die from COVID-19 in New Zealand since February, bringing the number of pandemic victims in the country to 27.
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