New Zealand has ended Auckland’s lockdown after nearly three weeks, allowing schools and businesses in the nation’s largest city to reopen once again.
After successfully containing the spread of the virus this spring, New Zealand lifted virtually all of its coronavirus-related restrictions, but a mysterious cluster of cases that appeared in Auckland earlier this month prompted a return to stay-at-home orders in the city. Before that, New Zealand had gone more than 100 days without any instances of local transmission.
Under the new rules, which went into effect Monday morning, masks are mandatory on public transit and gatherings must be limited to 10 people or fewer. Elsewhere in New Zealand, gatherings are capped at 100 people.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins discouraged Auckland parents from keeping their children home from school on Monday, the New Zealand Herald reported. “Their futures depend on this,” he said, deeming it unacceptable to keep children out of the classroom when not strictly necessary.
New Zealand reported nine new coronavirus infections on Monday, five of which were linked to the Auckland cluster. The other four cases were found in supervised isolation facilities.
Many Auckland residents immediately took advantage of the opportunity to leave the city and flocked to the airport on Monday, according to the Herald. The paper noted that social distancing seemed impossible at Auckland Airport’s domestic terminal, given how many people were swamping the check-in area.