New Zealand is moving to effectively end all lockdown measures after the last known case of coronavirus in the country has recovered. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced at a press conference on Sunday that New Zealand is moving to a Level 1 alert now that it is seemingly free of the virus. That change took effect at midnight local time on Monday, June 8.
- No more social distancing is required. At Level 1, New Zealand residents are allowed to go back to life as normal, with no social distancing required given that there’s believed to be no risk of coronavirus. In addition, there are no limits to public gatherings, so residents are free to visit restaurants and coffee shops, hang out with family and friends, and even attend sporting matches, BBC News reports.
- Thinking of heading to New Zealand? Not so fast. The fact that they have managed to eradicate coronavirus is a major accomplishment and not one that they’re willing to risk undoing. New Zealand borders remain closed to foreigners, meaning you wouldn’t be able to get there even if you wanted to.
- There have been no new cases in the country for more than two weeks. Ardern told reporters that she was overjoyed and “did a little dance” when she heard that there were no new coronavirus cases in New Zealand but that she’s taking a cautious step forward. “While we’re in a safer, stronger position, there’s still no easy path back to pre-Covid life, but the determination and focus we have had on our health response will now be vested in our economic rebuild,” she said. “While the job is not done, there is no denying this is a milestone. So can I finish with a very simple, ‘Thank you, New Zealand.'”
- New Zealand acted early to implement strict lockdown measures. The country first implemented a lockdown on March 25 which closed businesses and schools and required people to stay at home. Some businesses and takeout food restaurants were allowed to reopen in April and by mid-May, the cases had declined enough that they were able to move down to Level 2.
- Here’s hoping other countries can follow suit. While New Zealand has many advantages that have led to such a positive outcome, a smaller landmass and population being big ones, we have to remain hopeful that our own countries can begin to conquer this virus too, though we have a long road ahead of us.