Coronavirus restrictions in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, were lifted from 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, bringing the region in line with the rest of country at alert Level 1, the lowest level.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told citizens Monday that there was “high confidence” the resurgence of the virus in Auckland in August has been contained, but she urged the public to remain vigilant.
“I don’t want anyone to think that because we’re at Level 1 that covid is now absent from New Zealand,” she said. She encouraged citizens to continue using a covid-19 tracking app to reduce the risk of another cluster emerging.
A nationwide Level 1 alert means citizens have the freedom to attend social gatherings and are not required to wear a mask on public transportation — although it is encouraged.
In August, New Zealand recorded new cases of the virus after a 102-day streak without local transmission, prompting the government to impose stringent stay-at-home orders in Auckland, which was placed on a Level 3 lockdown.
Ardern’s handling of the health crisis has been hailedaround the world, with many championing her decision to swiftly close the country’s borders and communicate a clear lockdown strategy to citizens — measures that proved effective in protecting the lives of New Zealanders.
To date, the country has one of the lowest death tolls in the world: Twenty-five people have died of the virus, and fewer than 2,000 cases have been reported.
New Zealand’s 2020 general election will be held next weekend. Ardern, who is leading in the polls, is seeking a second term.