New Zealand’s government announced on Monday (20 April) that it will extend its lockdown measures that were in place to stem the spread of COVID-19 for another week, after which it will review the situation and decide if the level of restrictions will be loosen.
“New Zealand will move out of Alert Level 4 lockdown at 11.59pm on Monday Apr 27, one week from today,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a press conference.
She added, “We will then hold in Alert 3 for two weeks, before reviewing how are tracking again, and making further decisions at Cabinet on May 11.”
On 26 February, New Zealand confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus, and it closed its borders on 19 March. Following that, the country imposed a complete lockdown on 26 March where 5 million of its population are not allowed to leave their homes, unless they want to get essential supplies or take short, local walks.
Additionally, all schools and non-essential services have also been asked to shut its doors. The country also declared a state of emergency and is at Level 4, which is the highest level, on the COVID-19 alert system.
The measures imposed by the New Zealand government have been deemed as one of the toughest amongst most countries, and have proved to be effective in containing the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
As of Monday, the Pacific nation only recorded nine new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths. This brings the total tally in the country to 1,440 cases with 12 fatalities.
Prime Minister Ardern said that under alert level 3, businesses will be able to open their doors if they can provide contactless engagement with customers.
However, shops, malls, hardware stores and restaurants will still not be allowed to open but they can permit online or phone purchases.
As for schools, they will be given permission to open partially up to year 10, however attendance would be voluntary. Funerals and weddings can be held, but will be limited to only 10 people.
“This is going to be a long terms project for us. A move to alert level 3 is not a return to pre COVID-19 life for any of us. More of economy will be able to come back on line, but our social lives will not,” she stressed.