New Zealand has reached a massively significant historical milestone, declaring itself COVID-19 free, with the virus eliminated and the country moving to level 1 restrictions.
In what is a huge moment for the land of the long white cloud, New Zealand has today moved to level 1 restrictions, lifting all of its coronavirus measures and starting ‘a new norm’ for Kiwis countrywide.
New Zealand has been declared COVID-19 free after the recovery of a 50-year-old who was the last active case of the virus.
The country had previously gone 17 days without a new case after implementing one of the world’s strictest lockdowns on March 26.
This means life returning to something similar to pre-coronavirus normality with social distancing measures and restrictions on mass gatherings removed.
However, strict border controls will remain, as will the continued use of contact tracing used by businesses to register customers with the scanning of a QR code before they enter.
New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern described moving to level 1 as being “where life feels as normal as it can in the time of a global pandemic”.
Jacinda was so excited, she even did a little happy dance of her own.
“Our goal was to come out the other side as quickly and as safely as we could. To a place where our borders continue to be our first line of defence but all current rules and restrictions on businesses and services are essentially lifted. Today, 75 days later, we are ready,”
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand PM
Business and services that serve the public will all continue to offer a QR code at their door, allow customers to maintain their digital contact tracing apps and a diary of where they’ve travelled and who they may have come into contact with.
“This is a key new behaviour we’re asking New Zealanders to adopt… You can do and go wherever you like, we just ask that you keep a record of where you have been,” Ardern says.
New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has issued a press statement saying he welcomed the COVID-19 alert level 1 announcement.
“To that end, we urge all workers to return to their place of work. We want to see town centres and CBDs return to normal, and give all businesses, including the retail and hospitality sectors, the best chance of economic recovery following the effects of previous restrictions,” he said.
What about the Trans-Tasman bubble?
Asked about a start date for the proposed trans-Tasman bubble, Ardern says she doesn’t want to give a false start for businesses and people keen to see the border across the ditch open up.
But… September is still the magic month earmarked by many for when the trans-Tasman bubble is likely to begin.
Fiji also declared itself COVID-free last Friday, saying that all 18 people who tested positive have now recovered.
In a post on Twitter, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama wrote: “And even with our testing numbers climbing by the day, it’s now been 45 days since we recorded our last case. With no deaths, our recovery rate is 100%.”
South Pacific nations including Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia are also all wanting to be part of a reciprocal bubble with both New Zealand and Australia with September, again a feasible timeframe.
New Zealand’s COVID-19 alert level 1 will come in at midnight, tonight 9 June. The country had suffered 1,154 cases of COVID-19, and 22 deaths.
Prepare for a party of the size not seen since the All Blacks last won the Rugby World Cup in 2015 versus Australia.
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