New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday announced plans to lift coronavirus-related restrictions for most of the country, saying that the mystery outbreak that appeared in August appears to be largely under control.
Limits on large gatherings will remain in place for Auckland, the center of the outbreak that prompted a return to some lockdown restrictions last month. Currently, gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, but on Wednesday the maximum size will grow to 100, Ardern said. Within two weeks, all restrictions will be removed.
New Zealand ended its original nationwide lockdown in June, and lifted all restrictions while keeping an ongoing border closure in place. The country went more than 100 days with no instances of community transmission until the Auckland outbreak was detected.
Last month, amid the resurgence in cases, Auckland returned to a strict lockdown while residents of other parts of the country were told to wear masks when social distancing wasn’t possible, and to stay home whenever possible. The restrictions are being removed in time for New Zealand’s parliamentary election on Oct. 17, when Ardern will be up for reelection.
“Our actions collectively have managed to get the virus under control,” Ardern told reporters on Monday, according to Reuters.
New Zealand has reported just 1,815 coronavirus infections and 25 fatalities to date, and the number of new cases reported each day has remained at fewer than 10 since the start of September.