Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday that she will be easing coronavirus lockdown conditions in New Zealand as of next week. As of 28 April, New Zealand’s lockdown conditions will be relaxed, moving from a level four total lockdown to level three.
This change will be implemented as a result of New Zealand’s remarkably low mortality rate and a high rate of patient recovery. Level three restrictions will allow for more businesses to operate, the re-opening of schools and enable restaurants to open for delivery services only.
“We have done what very few countries have been able to do. We have stopped a wave of devastation,” says Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister.
The level three restrictions will be put in place for a fortnight and will be reassessed again on May 11th. Ardern hopes that the elimination progress is sustained during this period and that New Zealanders continue to maintain caution to minimise the spread of coronavirus throughout the nation. New Zealand entered lockdown at an early stage on March 25th, when there were fewer than 150 cases of the virus and no recorded deaths. As it stands, New Zealand have a death toll of only 13 people – low enough for Arden to make a phone call for each fatality.
“Our transmission rate, the number of cases each person with the virus passes it onto, is now 0.48, less than half a person each. Overseas the average is 2.5 people. We have amongst the lowest number of confirmed cases per 100,000 people in the world.”
The Cabinet decision to step down from the top-alert level four restriction sparked from the recommendation of a high tier health advisor, Ashley Bloomfield. According to the Guardian, New Zealand’s coronavirus cases have dropped from a daily high of 89 cases to single digits over the back end of the total level four lockdown.
“Going hard and going early gave us the very best chance of stamping out the virus, and it has,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Compared to Australia, New Zealand’s COVID-19 government response has been much stricter, tighter, and more definitive. Jacinda Ardern has been praised for handling the coronavirus pandemic better than other world leaders, offering full transparency and simple nation addresses. Her government has followed a flexible plan that tackled the issue early and effectively. With a population of nearly 5 million people, New Zealand have only had 1445 coronavirus cases with a remarkable recovery rate of over a thousand people.
However, the NZ Government still warns against complacency when the total lockdown is relaxed on April 28: “At Alert Level 3 we will need to be even more vigilant. All of us will need to unite against COVID-19 by sticking to the rules.”