New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says border control remains the first line of defence as the country’s coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says border control remains the first line of defence as the country's coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
The nation has gone 17 days without a new case after implementing one of the world's strictest lockdowns on March 26. The last recorded active case of COVID-19 has recovered.
Ms Ardern said as a result of zero positive tests, the New Zealand cabinet has agreed to move the country to Level One on its COVID-19 alert levels from midnight tonight.
The lifting of restrictions means New Zealanders can hold public events and private events, such as weddings and funerals, without limitations.
The country's retail, hospitality sectors, transport and internal travel will also be reopened without limitations.
"The freedom of restrictions relies heavily on the ongoing role that our border controls will play in keeping the virus out," she said.
"With over 100,000 new cases being reported each day the challenge of COVID remains around the globe and so it remains here. We are now immune to what is happening in the rest of the world."
She said she is confident New Zealand "has eliminated the virus in the country for now", but said it will require a sustained effort to continue this path.
"We almost certainly will see cases here again," she said.
"That is not a sign we have failed, it is a reality of this virus. But if and when that occurs we have to make sure, and we are, that we are prepared. That's a reason our borders remain our first line of defence as we aim not to import the virus. Borders remain closed.
"Our managed isolation and quarantine at the border will continue and it will be as important as ever as we know this is a potential pathway."
New Zealanders and businesses across the nation will now be encouraged to display QR posters to allow individuals to continue to update their travel movements through the New Zealand COVID-19 tracing app.
She said this will help quick action to shutdown any potential small outbreaks in future.
Ms Ardern said New Zealanders united in unprecedented ways to crush the virus, with the country in lockdown 26 days after its first case. At the time the country had just over 200 cases.
She quoted Google tracking data that reported New Zealanders massively reduced their movements with 91 per cent down in retail and recreation.
She said this was better than Australia, the UK, the United States.
"Our team of 5 million has both sacrificed and achieved a huge amount in just under 11 weeks as the world reckons with and continues to reckon with a virus that went from obscurity at the start of the year to a global pandemic that will linger, with second waves a constant reality," Ms Ardern said.
"Here in New Zealand we went hard and early on a single plan that had a dual purpose – to protect lives and protect livelihoods."
New Zealand has reported 1154 confirmed cases of the virus, with 22 deaths.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/jacinda-arden-nz-to-lift-all-coronavirus-restrictions-but-will-keep-borders-closed/36a43c0f-1ace-470d-8796-75b6a5cb1b30