After ‘eliminating’ coronavirus infections in the country, New Zealand had announced the lifting of restrictions marking a gradual return to life to normalcy. In a bid to contain the COVID-19 disease, the New Zealand government had imposed strict lockdown that lasted for nearly 46 days and now Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has declared that the country would now move from level three to level two implying that more services would be open.
The country recorded at least 1,499 cases of coronavirus and 21 fatalities and Ardern resorted to a staggering reopening of the country to avoid the fresh wave of cases. However, the authorities have confirmed one new case of COVID-19 disease on May 17 from an identified cluster. New Zealand even became one of the first countries outside China on April 27 to claim that it has “eliminated” the COVID-19 disease.
According to reports, Jacinda Ardern had said that her “team of five million” had made the sacrifice of halting their normal life to protect the individuals who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 disease in the nation. But now, as the numbers indicate that the first wave of the outbreak has been contained and health professionals seem to have gained control over the infection, restrictions have been removed. The country did not report a single new case or death on May 12.
Most Early Learning Centres, schools and tertiary education facilities will be reopening tomorrow 🎒.— Unite Against COVID-19 (@covid19nz) May 17, 2020
Additional public health control measures are in place to make safe environments for children, young people and staff. Find out more on our website: https://t.co/xpaaVkwxGC pic.twitter.com/TcFTeCXbTm
However, the country’s deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters noted the “problem” with the staggering response in an interview with an international media outlet. He not only said that the message has the potential to leave people confused but also stressed that a common language was required to communicate the desired rules. Authorities have allowed restaurants, movie theatres, gyms, shopping malls to reopen this week only with strict adherence to social distancing rules.
Peters was quoted by ANI saying, "The problem with the staggered response was the potential for the message to be very confused, so simplicity and common-sense language was required.”
“In that context, any staggering needed to be seriously limited," he added.
Meanwhile, schools in New Zealand will be reopened by May 18. But all the other businesses that will also resume work are required to scan a code to register the details of the customers such as in coffee shops. The government has also decided to still limit the gatherings to very low people so that social distance can be maintained even when outdoors.
However, the lifting to full lockdown is a long-awaited sign for the economists who can against restart the operations in the country, citizens have expressed a small sense of anxiousness over the thought of resuming life as normal. Social gatherings will not be allowed for more than ten people and strangers have been asked to maintain social distance. New Zealand will also operate public transport in shifts.