New Zealand has lifted almost all of its coronavirus restrictions after reporting no active cases in the country — just in time for winter.
The nation has declared itself “COVID-Free” which is excellent news for the island nation’s ski season which is due to kick-off at the end of the month.
BBC News reports that at midnight local time (12:00 GMT), all of New Zealand moved to a level one restriction which is the lowest of a four-tier alert system. Under new rules, social distancing is not required and there are no limits on public gatherings, BBC News reports. However, borders will remain closed to foreigners.
New Zealand declared that the entire nation was “COVID-free” after no new Covid-19 cases were reported for over two weeks.
“While we’re in a safer, stronger position, there’s still no easy path back to pre-Covid life, but the determination and focus we have had on our health response will now be vested in our economic rebuild,” New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told BBC News.
Under the new rules, all New Zealand schools and workplaces can reopen. Weddings, funerals, and public transport can resume without any restrictions, BBC News reports, and social distancing is no longer required but will be encouraged.
In the meantime, the nation’s borders will remain closed to foreign travelers. Rules will remain in place requiring New Zealanders arriving from abroad to go through a 14-day period of isolation or self-quarantine.
Ms. Ardern warned that the country would “certainly see cases again”, adding that “elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort”.
According to the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, New Zealand has recorded 15,04 confirmed cases and 22 deaths from Covid-19 since the virus arrived in late February. The nation’s government has been widely praised for its handling of the crisis.