New Zealand to Ease Coronavirus Restrictions Next Week
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8th Dec | 3 min read

“We have done what very few countries have been able to do. We have stopped a wave of devastation.” These were words spoken by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern while she addressed the country's Parliament earlier this week.

We recently wrote about how New Zealand has stomped out coronavirus because of their strong leadership. Now it looks like they’ll be easing lockdown restrictions in the coming week as long as the progress made thus far is maintained. Mandatory lockdowns will remain until April 27th, that’s when the government will reassess to determine if easing restrictions is the right call.

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Today the number of new cases reported in New Zealand was 5, down from 9 cases reported yesterday. Up til now 13 people have died from coronavirus in the country. 

While hard hit countries like Italy are starting to plan for easing lock down restrictions as well, New Zealand has put itself in a far better position than most nations, giving them the unique opportunity to ease COVID-19 measures with more confidence than many of their counterparts. Again, this was by in large thanks to the quick actions taken by the country’s leadership, they have put themselves in a position to completely eliminate the virus.

“Our transmission rate, the number of cases each person with the virus passes it onto, is now 0.48, less than half a person each. Overseas the average is 2.5 people. We have amongst the lowest number of confirmed cases per 100,000 people in the world.” Arden continued at the Beehive in Wellington. To add to that, according to the Oxford University coronavirus government response tracker, New Zealand has one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.

Additionally, Arden encouragingly points out that “nearly every case identified since April 1st is a result of overseas travel or contact with someone with the virus, often in existing clusters, our testing has scaled up and we have now tested over 85,000 New Zealanders, one of the highest testing rates per capita in the world.”

Currently, New Zealand is at a level 4 alert, and on Monday the plans are to lower the level to 3. Their overall plan is an elimination strategy, meaning they don’t want to completely lift lockdowns until the virus is completely eradicated in the country.

The range of measures included in a Level 3 Alert are as follows:

  • People instructed to stay home in their bubble other than for essential personal movement – including to go to work, school if they have to or for local recreation.

  • Physical distancing of two metres outside home (including on public transport), or one metre in controlled environments like schools and workplaces.

  • Bubbles must stay within their immediate household bubble, but can expand this to reconnect with close family/whānau, or bring in caregivers, or support isolated people. This extended bubble should remain exclusive.

  • Schools (years 1 to 10) and Early Childhood Education centres can safely open, but will have limited capacity. Children should learn at home if possible.

  • People must work from home unless that is not possible.

  • Businesses can open premises, but cannot physically interact with customers.

  • Low risk local recreation activities are allowed.

  • Public venues are closed, eg libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds, markets.

  • Gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed but only for wedding services, funerals and tangihanga. Physical distancing and public health measures must be maintained.

  • Healthcare services use virtual, non-contact consultations where possible.

  • Inter-regional travel is highly limited, eg for essential workers, with limited exemptions for others.

  • People at high risk of severe illness (older people and those with existing medical conditions) are encouraged to stay at home where possible, and take additional precautions when leaving home. They may choose to work. 

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