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New Zealand will begin reopening schools and businesses from next Monday as PM Jacinda Ardern declares: 'We've done what few countries have been able to do - stop devastation'

New Zealand will begin reopening schools and businesses from next Monday as PM Jacinda Ardern declares: 'We've done what few countries have been able to do - stop devastation'
  • New Zealand will move out of strict level four restrictions on Monday next week   
  • Tough lockdown rules were brought in on March 26 to slow the spread of virus
  • Country will move to level three - which will allow some businesses to reopen 
New Zealand will start re-opening schools and businesses next Monday, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said today as she hailed the country's success in stopping an 'uncontrolled explosion' of coronavirus. 
Ardern said that New Zealand has 'done what very few countries have been able to do... we have stopped a wave of devastation.' 
The maximum Alert Level 4 will be lifted from April 27, dropping to Level 3 which means some schools can re-open and gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed for event such as weddings and funerals.   
The new rules mean people can expand their 'immediate household bubble' to 'reconnect with close family' or support isolated people.  
Businesses in the construction, manufacturing and forestry industries can return to work, while shops and restaurants will remain shut but takeaways can resume. 
While announcing the decision, Ms Ardern paid tribute to Kiwis who have maintained physical distancing and made sacrifices during the clampdown
While announcing the decision, Ms Ardern paid tribute to Kiwis who have maintained physical distancing and made sacrifices during the clampdown
New Zealand imposed a Level 4 lockdown on March 26, when the country still had fewer than 100 cases. The country had already shut its borders on March 19.  
As a result, the country has seen only 1,105 confirmed cases and 12 deaths in total, with only a handful of new infections recorded in recent days. 
Ardern said the transmission rate (R) - the average number of people that each sick person infects - was now just 0.48. The average elsewhere is 2.5, she said.  
'Nearly every case identified since April 1 is as a result of overseas travel or contact with someone with the virus, often in existing clusters,' the PM said. 
'The number of individual cases that don’t have an obvious connection in that period stands now at only eight.'
The Level 4 restrictions have seen Kiwis stuck in their homes for the past four weeks. They have only been allowed to leave to do food shopping, to seek medical care or for exercise. 
Supermarkets remained open but all other food stores, such as cafes and restaurants were forced to close. 
Ms Ardern said they considered ending level four restrictions earlier but wanted to give themselves 'some additional certainty'.
'We considered that the longer we are in lockdown, the less likely it is we will need to go back,' she said. 
'The sacrifice made to date has been huge. And Cabinet wanted to make sure we lock in our gains, and give ourselves some additional certainty. 
'Ultimately, we have taken a balanced approach, and one that the Director General of Health not only supported, but also recommended.'
Since imposing a full-scale lockdown on March 26, the country has seen its infection rate fall
Since imposing a full-scale lockdown on March 26, the country has seen its infection rate fall
She said level three allowed more economic activity like construction, manufacturing and forestry, but it does not allow more social activity. 
'If we want to make sure that we are a health success story, and ensure our economy can start to operate again without the virus taking off, we need to get the next phase right. 
'The worst thing we can do for our country is to yo-yo between levels, with all of the uncertainty that this would bring.' 
While announcing the decision, Ms Ardern paid tribute to Kiwis who have maintained physical distancing and made sacrifices during the clampdown.
'The effort of our team of five million has broken the chain of transmission,' she said.
'All of you have stopped the uncontrolled explosion of COVID-19 in New Zealand and I couldn't be prouder.'
Medical staff test a shopper who volunteered at a pop-up community COVID-19 testing station at a supermarket carpark in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, April 17
Medical staff test a shopper who volunteered at a pop-up community COVID-19 testing station at a supermarket carpark in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, April 17 
New Zealand began testing for the virus as long ago as January 22, although it did not confirm a positive case until February 26. 
As early as March 14, all new arrivals into New Zealand were ordered into self-isolation, while cruise ships were banned. 
New Zealand had only 32 confirmed cases on March 18, when Ardern announced that all non-residents and non-citizens were banned from entering the country. 
Ardern announced a total Level 4 lockdown from March 26, at which point there were 363 confirmed cases.
Current figures show there are 1,105 confirmed cases of which only seven were added to the tally in the last 24 hours. 
There are another 335 'probable' cases including two new ones. Only 14 people are currently in hospital, down by four since yesterday. 
A total of 86,305 people have been tested in a country of 5million, the equivalent of one in every 57 people. Britain's rate is one in every 138 people. 

New Zealand COVID-19 alert levels:

Level 1: Prepare
Border entry measures to minimise risk of importing COVID-19 cases.
Intensive testing for COVID-19.
Rapid contact tracing of any positive case.
Self-isolation and quarantine required.
Schools and workplaces open, and must operate safely.
Physical distancing encouraged.
No restrictions on gatherings.
Stay home if you’re sick, report flu-like symptoms.
Wash and dry your hands, cough into your elbow, don’t touch your face.
No restrictions on domestic transport – avoid public transport or travel if you're sick.
Level 3: Restrict
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 and funerals. 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.


Level 2: Reduce
Physical distancing of 1 metre outside home (including on public transport).
Gatherings of up to 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors allowed while maintaining physical distancing and contact tracing requirements.
Sport and recreation activities are allowed if conditions on gatherings are met, physical distancing is followed and travel is local.
Public venues can open but must comply with conditions on gatherings, and undertake public health measures.
Health services operate as normally as possible.
Most businesses open, and business premises can be open for staff and customers with appropriate measures in place. Alternative ways of working encouraged, eg remote working, shift-based working, physical distancing, staggering meal breaks, flexible leave.
Schools and Early Childhood Education centres open, with distance learning available for those unable to attend school eg self-isolating.
People advised to avoid non-essential inter-regional travel.
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.
Level 4: Eliminate
People instructed to stay at home (in their bubble) other than for essential personal movement.
Safe recreational activity is allowed in local area.
Travel is severely limited.
All gatherings cancelled and all public venues closed.
Businesses closed except for essential services (eg supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics, petrol stations) and lifeline utilities.
Educational facilities closed.
Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities possible.
Reprioritisation of healthcare services.

 Source: NZ Government

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