In what’s finally a light flicker at the end of a still-very long tunnel, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed her country will be exiting Stage 4 lockdown conditions in one week’s time, ending the ultra-tough country-wide quarantine measures that will have been in place for just over a month.
A short while ago, Prime Minister Ardern confirmed Aotearoa would roll back the Stage 4 restrictions as of Monday, April 27th. From that point, the country will be under Stage 3 conditions for another 2 weeks, before another review will determine whether those restrictions continue.
Rolling back lockdown conditions to level three will allow scores of businesses and industries in New Zealand to resume operations. That includes restaurants operating take away and delivery services only, as well as the construction and forestry industries.
Addressing media this afternoon, Ardern noted that the strict shutdown measures in New Zealand have restricted COVID-19 outbreaks in the country to just 1,400 total confirmed cases with 12 overall deaths. The death toll is so low that Ardern still receives phone calls to inform her about each individual one.
More to that, the strict social movement restrictions have shrunk the transmission rate in the country to 0.48 per person. “We have amongst the lowest number of confirmed cases per 100,000 people in the world,” Ardern stated. “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 move down to Stage 3 conditions doesn’t hold many huge implications for Kiwis in their day-to-day lives, and still stipulates that people should remain home wherever possible. However certain restrictions are expected to be relaxed a little, particularly regarding visiting close family or people isolated in the community.
New Zealand is one of the few countries pursuing the eradication model of coronavirus response, aiming to wipe cases of the virus out completely by closing the borders and operating as a self-contained economy until the global situation improves. The country enforced the strict conditions on March 25th when there were just 150 reported cases.
Stage 3 restrictions will remain in place in New Zealand until May 11, and will be reviewed at that point.Image: Getty Images / Mark Mitchell - Pool