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New Zealand Government lifts all internal Coronavirus restrictions

New Zealand Government lifts all internal Coronavirus restrictions
June 8, 2020

Declaring that the nation is "virus-free", New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the lifting of almost all of its Coronavirus restrictions.

With no active cases in the country, New Zealand has today moved to Level 1, the lowest of its four-tier Coronavirus alert system.

The lifting of domestic restrictions ends the requirement for social distancing and limits on public gatherings. However, borders remain closed to non-New Zealanders.

Prime Minister Ardern today told reporters "while we're in a safer, stronger position, there's still no easy path back to pre-Covid life, but the determination and focus we have had on our health response will now be vested in our economic rebuild," Ms Ardern said.

"While the job is not done, there is no denying this is a milestone. So can I finish with a very simple, 'Thank you, New Zealand'."

New Zealand first went into lockdown on 25th March, setting up a new four-stage alert system and going in at Level 4, where most businesses were shut, schools closed and people told to stay at home.

After more than five weeks, it moved to Level 3 in April, allowing takeaway food shops and some non-essential businesses to re-open.

As the number of community cases continued to decline, the country moved into Level 2 in mid-May.

The move to level one comes ahead of time - the government had originally planned to make the move on 22nd June, but it was brought forward after no new cases were reported for 17 days.

Under the new rules, New Zealanders can resume work, school, sport and domestic travel without any restrictions while the same applies for weddings, funerals and public transport. Social distancing is no longer required but will be encouraged.

The country's borders remain closed to foreign travellers, and rules remain in place requiring New Zealanders arriving from abroad to go through a 14-day period of isolation or quarantine.

Warning that the country would "certainly see cases again", Prime Minister Ardern (pictured) added that "elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort".

The cessation of Coronavirus restrictions will see the new Super Rugby Aotearoa competition become the first professional rugby league in the world to have fans return in numbers following the COVID-19 outbreak.

New Zealand Rugby said there will be no limit on crowd numbers when the Highlanders take on the Chiefs at Dunedin’s 30,000-seat Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday. Fans will also be free to return without restrictions during Sunday’s match between the Blues and the Hurricanes at Auckland’s Eden Park.

Welcoming the end of restrictions, New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive, Mark Robinson stated "it is a testament to all New Zealanders that we are in a position to lift restrictions on mass gatherings and it’s a massive boost for Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa.

“We’re incredibly proud, and grateful, to be the first professional sports competition in the world to be in a position to have our teams play in front of their fans again. It’s going to be a very special and unique competition and it’s fitting that New Zealanders now have a chance to be part of it.”

With the move towards Level 1, kick-off times for Super Rugby Aotearoa games will shift to 7.05pm for Saturday games and 3.35pm for Sunday games.

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