Jacinda Ardern lifts coronavirus restrictions in New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland
Coronavirus restrictions in New Zealand’s largest city will be lifted this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said as she expressed confidence a second wave of COVID-19 infections in Auckland has been almost eliminated.
- New Zealand appeared to have stamped out community transmission of COVID-19
- A renewed Auckland outbreak detected in August was the biggest the country had seen
- The easing of measures means no more limit on gatherings and no physical distancing rules
The city will move to alert level 1 from 11:59pm on Wednesday (local time, joining the rest of the country, after reporting no new cases in the Auckland cluster for 10 consecutive days.
“There is now a 95 per cent probability of the cluster being eliminated,” Ms Ardern said at a news conference.
“COVID-19 will be with us for many months to come. But we should still mark these milestones.”
New Zealand, a nation of 5 million people, appeared to have stamped out community transmission of COVID-19 earlier this year following a tough nationwide lockdown that was subsequently lifted.
The renewed Auckland outbreak, detected in August, was the biggest the country had seen with 179 linked cases, prompting Ms Ardern to reinforce restrictions in Auckland.
The easing of measures means there will be no 100-people limit on gatherings in Auckland, and no physical distancing rules in bars and restaurants.
The country recorded one new case on Monday, involving a New Zealander returning from overseas, taking its total number of confirmed cases to 1,499, including 25 deaths.
Ms Ardern’s success in containing coronavirus has played a major part in putting her firmly ahead in polls for a general election on October 17.
Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Ms Ardern finalised a deal for a limited travel bubble that would allow people from New Zealand to travel to New South Wales and the Northern Territory.
Flights across the Tasman are expected to resume in from October 16.
However, Ms Ardern is yet to agree to allow Australians into New Zealand, and has warned Kiwis eager to visit Australia they may still have to quarantine upon their return.