New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern signalled that significant restrictions will remain in place even after the country eases nationwide lockdown enforced in March to contain the coronavirus. Announcing Alert Level 3, Ardern said that many of the Level 4 restrictions will remain in place while permitting aspects of the economy to reopen in a safe way.
“There are promising signs our go hard and go early elimination strategy is working and the lockdown is breaking the chain of community transmission. Any move to Level 3 cannot put those gains at risk,” said the New Zealand PM in a statement.
Ardern said that Level 3 is, by design, a progression and not a rush to normality which carries many of the restrictions in place at Level 4. She added that protecting the health of New Zealanders is the primary focus of the government but it also needs to position the economy for recovery.
“Importantly the test for a business opening at Level 3 moves to it being safe, rather than being essential,” said Ardern.
The government advised people to work from home if they can and asked businesses to comply with health and safety requirements around physical distancing and contactless engagement with customers. For businesses that are accessed by the public or customers, the government recommended online or phone purchases and contactless delivery or click and collect.
New Zealand has limited funerals and weddings for 10 people and that only for services without foods, meals, and receptions. The Prime Minister highlighted that the main message remains “stay home to save lives” which is the most effective way to break the chain of transmission. She added that the general rule of thumb is to keep people two metres away from each other.
“Under lockdown, we have shown our ability to put in place a virtual wall that has broken the chain of transmission. Our new line of defence when we reach Level 3 is common sense, following the rules and trust in one another,” Ardern said.