(CNN) – Almost all restrictions on coronavirus in New Zealand will be lifted tomorrow, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced after the country did not report active cases.
Social distancing, however, is still encouraged and Ardern said that New Zealand’s international borders will remain closed to non-residents to prevent new outbreaks. Residents arriving in New Zealand will still have to quarantine for two weeks.
New Zealand currently has no active coronavirus cases and no positive cases reported in the past 17 days. In the past 12 days, no one has been hospitalized for Covid-19 and 40 days have passed since the last community transmission case.
“This freedom from restrictions depends heavily on the ongoing role that our border controls will play in keeping the virus out … The virus will be in our world for some time to come,” Ardern said in a press conference Monday. .
New Zealand lock calendar
The first coronavirus case was confirmed in New Zealand on February 28 – over a month after the United States confirmed its first infection.
On March 14, when the country had six cases, Ardern announced that anyone entering the country would have to isolate themselves for two weeks, which at the time was among the world’s most severe border restrictions. Foreign citizens were barred from entering the country on March 20.
Days later, on March 23 – deadly and when there were 102 confirmed cases – Ardern announced that the country was entering a “level three” block. Non-essential activities were closed, events and meetings were canceled and schools closed to all children except those of essential workers.
Employers were told to allow work from home, where possible, public transport was reserved for essential workers and discretionary national air travel between regions was prohibited.
At midnight on March 25, New Zealand moved to the more stringent level 4 block, with people being told not to leave the house except for the essential exercise close to home, while maintaining social distances.
On April 9, despite a drop in cases, Ardern tightened border restrictions so that all citizens and permanent residents arriving in New Zealand had to spend two weeks in quarantine in a recognized facility rather than at home.
Are travel bubbles looming?
Both countries have mainly controlled their local coronavirus outbreaks and have large tourism industries which have been severely affected by widespread travel restrictions.
However, Ardern warned Monday that such a corridor could still be months.
“I don’t want New Zealand businesses and even kiwis who want to cross the moat have a false start. I would prefer to share deadlines when we have much more certainty,” he said.
“(Australia) is making progress state by state, but it is not universal.”
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