New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that the country has “eliminated” the coronavirus and will be easing restrictions from “level four” to level three,” as new cases are now only in the single figures. CNN reports that New Zealand has reported one new case, four “probable cases” and one new death today on Monday, April 27. It’s hopeful news for the island nation, as well as the remainder of the world, that shows nationwide-lockdowns have been working in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the coronavirus was “currently” eliminated but that the country needed to remain alert and could still expect to continue to see new cases, according to Fox News.
“So as we have said elimination means we may well reach zero but we may well then have small numbers of cases coming up again, that doesn’t mean we have failed, it just means that we are in the position to have that zero tolerance approach to have a very aggressive management of those cases and keep those numbers low and fading out again,” she said.
For the past 5 weeks, New Zealanders have been living, working, and adapting under a world on lockdown. Over the past few days, less than 10 new cases have been reported per day. This show of progress is what’s prompting Prime Minister Ardern to lower New Zealand’s alert level to a “level three,” thus allowing most but not all businesses to reopen under new coronavirus guidelines. The lowered restriction will go into effect on Tuesday, April 28.
Businesses and professions that require face-to-face contact — such as hairdressers, salespeople, masseuses and public gyms — will remain closed until the alert level is reduced another notch, according to NPR News.
“Your business must be contactless. Your customers can pay online, over the phone or in a contactless way,” she said. “Delivery or pickup must also be contactless.”
Exceptions include supermarkets, dairies, gas stations, pharmacies or other permitted health services, according to the New Zealand Herald. For those who return to the physical workplace, they should maintain one meter (about three feet) of social distancing, Ardern said.
According to Johns Hopkins University, New Zealand has a total of 1,469 confirmed novel coronavirus cases and 19 deaths. It appears now that they have flattened the curve, and are moving forward towards “eliminating” the virus altogether.
Australia, too, has seen a precipitous decline in new cases since a peak nearly a month ago, according to NPR News.
The diminished number of new COVID-19 cases in conjunction with the lowering of restrictions could provide a hopeful glimmer for New Zealand’s ski season which typically kicks off in June and runs through November. As of currently, New Zealand ski areas do anticipate to open come June. But if they do open they will most likely have to operate with current social distancing guidelines and ski season could look very different compared to what New Zealanders remember.