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New Zealand eases Covid-19 lockdown measures as Ardern warns people 'to move cautiously'

Certain businesses such as construction are now allowed to reopen, but social distancing rules will still apply.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

NEW ZEALAND HAS started reopening its economy and easing Covid-19 restrictions as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced community transmission of Coronavirus has been suppressed. 

“There is no widespread, undetected community transmission in New Zealand,” Ardern declared. ”We have won that battle.” 

Certain businesses such as construction are now allowed to reopen, but social distancing rules will still apply.

After nearly five weeks at the maximum Level Four restrictions – with only essential services operating – the country has moved to Level Three. 

That will allow some businesses, takeaway food outlets and schools to reopen.

But Ardern warned there was no certainty about when all transmission can be eliminated, allowing a return to normal life.

Everyone wants to “bring back the social contact that we all miss”, she said, “but to do it confidently we need to move slowly and we need to move cautiously.”

“I will not risk the gains we’ve made in the health of New Zealanders. So if we need to remain at Level Three, we will,” she said. 

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The easing of restrictions come as New Zealand, a nation of five million people, reported only one new case of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1,122 with 19 deaths. 

© AFP 2020

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