New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says her government is set to remove social distancing rules from next week.
The country has recorded 11 straight days without a new coronavirus case and there remains one single active case. Officials are hailing their hardline response to the pandemic, which saw businesses shut down and people ordered to stay home, a success.
As a result of the encouraging numbers, people won’t be required to socially distancing themselves from others from June 8, which is well ahead of the planned June 22 date.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday (June 2): “Our strategy of go hard, go early has paid off.
“In moving to level one so soon, we will be one of the first countries in the world to have experienced a Covid-19 outbreak and then return to that level of normality so quickly.”
The country is set to enter Level 1, which will lift all restrictions on businesses and society, when Cabinet meets next week. There will still be strict border control measures as well as contact tracing systems in place to track any outbreaks.
Ms Ardern said while not everything is back to normal, but Kiwis can enjoy a life very different the past few months.
“Within the last week we removed restrictions on bars and by Monday we’ll have a good view on whether that’s led to more cases,” she said.
“Lives have been saved, hospital protected from overflow and the job of economic recovery will be able to start faster.”
The Prime Minister warned people heading back to work and social situations to remain vigilant.
People are encouraged to stay home if they’re sick, get tested if they have cold or flu-like symptoms, meticulously wash their hands, sneeze or cough into their elbow, isolate immediately if told by health authorities, see a GP if there are any concerns about their wellbeing, and keep track of where they’ve been.