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Most of New Zealand to emerge from lockdown on Tuesday

Auckland will remain under special measures.

MOST OF NEW Zealand will move out of lockdown on Tuesday, the government has announced.

However, the largest city of Auckland will remain in the strictest type of lockdown until at least next week.

About three million New Zealanders will no longer be under stay-at-home orders as of Tuesday overnight, and schools will reopen on Thursday for the first time in three weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

But she added that Auckland, where the country’s Delta-variant outbreak emerged late last month, will remain in hard lockdown for at least another week as the virus was not yet contained in the city of two million.

The nation has been battling an outbreak of the Delta variant of the coronavirus since last month. All recent cases have been found in Auckland, including 20 that were found on Monday. There have been a total of 821 cases found in the outbreak.

Ardern said there had been positive progress bringing case numbers down, but the highly transmissible Delta variant was a “game-changer” that meant Auckland’s restrictions could not be relaxed too soon.

“We’ve done so well to bringing this outbreak under control, level four (hard lockdown) restrictions are working but the job is not done,” she said.

“We’re within sight of elimination but we can’t drop the ball.”

New Zealanders outside Auckland will move to alert level two on the country’s four-tier coronavirus response system.

Indoor social gatherings will be restricted to 50 people, with mandatory mask-wearing and tracer-app scanning in many venues.

The outbreak ended a six-month run without local transmission in New Zealand, which had been one of the world’s last Covid-free zones and won widespread praise for its pandemic response.

A woman in her 90s on Saturday became the first person to die with Covid-19 in New Zealand since February, bringing the country’s pandemic death toll to 27.

- With reporting from PA

© – AFP, 2021

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