UA-35290487-2 Coronavirus: New Zealand could lift restrictions next week, says Jacinda Ardern

Coronavirus: New Zealand could lift restrictions next week, says Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand could lift its remaining coronavirus restrictions next week, Jacinda Ardern has said.

Social distancing measures and limits on gatherings would no longer apply if the country – which looks close to eliminating the virus domestically – moves to alert level one, the prime minister said on Tuesday.


However, Ms Ardern said borders will remain closed.


“Our strategy of go hard, go early has paid off ... and in some cases, beyond expectations,” the PM said.


New Zealand recorded no new cases of coronavirus for a 11th consecutive day on Tuesday.


Meanwhile, there was just one active casein the country. The man in his fifties from the Auckland region will be considered recovered when he has not shown any symptoms for two days.


New Zealand imposed a strict lockdown - during which most businesses shut and everyone except essential workers told to stay at home - when there were just 102 infections and no deaths linked to coronavirus.


The country has been praised for its “aggressive approach” towards controlling the Covid-19 outbreak by medical journal The Lancet.


Now, the remaining lockdown measures will be reviewed on 8 June – two weeks earlier than was planned.

Pressure has been growing from the public and party leaders to ease curbs.

“We are exceeding our expectations in terms of our progress, which is a fantastic position to be in,” Ms Ardern said.


The prime minister added: “We will be one of the first countries in the world to return to this level of normality so quickly.”

New Zealand has recorded a total number of 1,504 infections, and has a death toll of 22.

On Monday, thousands of New Zealanders took to the streets to protest the death of George Floyd despite social distancing restrictions.


The PM said she was “horrified” by Floyd’s death – which happened after a policeman knelt on his neck for minutes in the US - but said the protesters had flouted rules.


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