New Zealand eases nationwide lockdown as COVID-19 cases fall

Sep 07 , 2021. 15 hours ago – 19:12 KYODO NEWS

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. (Getty/Kyodo)

SYDNEY – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown will be lifted for all areas except Auckland, the largest city, as new infection numbers continue to fall.

Most of the country will see an easing of restrictions from Wednesday with the dropping of alert status from level 3 to level 2, allowing regional travel to resume and schools, businesses and workplaces to reopen.

owever, several measures to reduce the risk of transmission will remain in place, in what has been dubbed “Delta level 2” by the prime minister. This will include mandatory mask wearing in most indoor settings, and limits on gatherings set at 50 people indoors, and 100 outdoors.

“This is a testament to everybody’s hard work,” said Ardern. “We are within sight of elimination, but we cannot drop the ball.”

The city of Auckland, where the outbreak began, is set to remain in lockdown at the highest alert level 4 until Sept. 15.

New Zealand remains focused on eliminating the virus from the community, reporting just 20 new local infections on Monday, down from a peak of 85 on Aug. 29. This brings the number of cases in the current outbreak to 821.

The country of 5 million people has reported about 3,400 cases of COVID-19 and 27 deaths from the virus since the pandemic began.