New Zealand lifted all national restrictions on coronavirus on 8 June 2020 after the last person still isolated has recovered.
Border controls remain in place, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, but she added that social withdrawal measures and restrictions on the number of people who can gather are no longer necessary. “We are confident that for the time being, we have eradicated the transmission of the virus in New Zealand,” Ardern said in a televised speech, adding that her compatriots had “joined forces in an unprecedented way to defeat the virus.
The South Pacific archipelago, with a population of five million, has 1,154 confirmed cases and 22 deaths. No new infections were recorded for 17 days. It’s been a week since there’s been only one active case. The identity of the last patient has not been revealed but is believed to be a woman in her 50s who was involved in a chain of transmission of the virus in Auckland. The Director-General of the Department of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, announced on June 8 that this person had recovered and was no longer living in isolation. “Not having active cases for the first time since 28 February is certainly an important milestone in our journey, but as we said, it will be crucial to maintain vigilance against Covid-19,” he said in a statement. New Zealand was praised for its effective response to the coronavirus outbreak, which included strict containment for seven weeks until May. “The last case was symptom-free for 48 hours and is considered cured,” the Health Ministry said.
Removal of restrictions to support the national economy
The health alert has been reduced to level 1 on a scale of 4, which means that theatres and discos can reopen without limiting the number of customers. Sports events no longer need to be held behind closed doors, an important development for the local rugby federation, which will allow its “Super Rugby Aotearoa” competition to start in full stadiums. “We are incredibly proud and grateful to be the first professional sporting competition in the world to allow our teams to play in front of their fans again,” said New Zealand Rugby Chief Mark Robinson. “It will be a unique competition and it’s great that the New Zealanders have the opportunity to participate.
The competition is an intensified version of Super Rugby, with franchises from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, and Japan taking part before its suspension in early March due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Aotearoa Super Rugby Championship will bring together only the five New Zealand franchises and aims to be a temporary replacement for the multinational competition.
Mrs. Ardern noted that lifting the restrictions would help support the national economy. “We are ahead of the economic recovery because this level 1 makes us one of the most open economies in the world, if not the most open economy,” she said. She also said the models showed that the economy would be operating at 96% of its potential at level 1, compared to just 63% at level 4.