On May 7, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that New Zealanders would be allowed to travel and do more as the country enters COVID-19 alert level 2, as per local media reports. Ardern outlined details on retailing, hospitality, sport, education and travel, ahead of the New Zealand Cabinet meeting to ease measures to stem the novel coronavirus.
Speaking to the state broadcasters in a Livestream address, PM Ardern said, the focus of Alert Level 2 was still to "play it safe". Further, she added, a decision on when the country should switch to level 2 will be made on Monday, May 11. Businesses, such as the retail outlets and hairdressers will be able to resume operation under alert level 2, however, they would have to work around the health safety measures. She added that basic hygiene and social distancing must still be followed.
In other positive news, Ardern said, the hospitality businesses that can apply the 'three S' (Seating, Separation, and Single server) can be allowed to resume operations. In the 3S norm, people must be seated in an arrangement that the spread can be curbed, they must be social distancing and each table must have only one person serving the cuisine with respect to diners, Ardern explained.
Further, the operators in hospitality will also be required to keep distancing at long queues outside, Ardern said at the virtual conference, upon failure, they would be asked to shut down, she added. She said the measures of only having one server will help reduce the risk of spread, and 'high-contact surfaces' like EFTPOS terminals and door handles would be required to be disinfected on an hourly basis.
“People at higher-risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (e.g. those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled, and seniors) are encouraged to take additional precautions when leaving home. They may work, if they agree with their employer that they can do so safely,” warned New Zealand’s official website for COVID-19.
At level 2, people would be able to visit their friends and loved ones, but Ardern said that it is advised to keep gatherings small wherever possible in the virtual address. New Zealand's borders will remain closed, inter-regional travel will be permitted at Alert level 2, while community sports and Water activities can resume. Further, schools and tertiary education can reopen at level 2, as per local media reports.
(Image Credit: AP)