NZ 'halfway down Everest'; unveils plan to ease coronavirus lockdown
New Zealand, which has been receiving praises for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, has unveiled plans to further ease its nationwide lockdown. The island nation has been under lockdown for over five weeks and according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, it is "halfway down Everest" in its fight against COVID-19. As per the new plan, the lockdown could be further eased from Wednesday.
Lockdown to be eased from 'level 3' to 'level 2'
Arden outlined the plans to ease the lockdown from "level three" to "level two" on Thursday. She and her cabinet will make a decision on easing the lockdown on Monday and by Wednesday, the new guidelines could come into force. Ardern said that the fight against COVID-19 has not been won yet, however, they are ahead of a lot of countries.
'Doesn't mean the war is over'
Ardern said, "Every alert level to fight COVID-19 is its own battle. When you win one, it doesn't mean the war is over." She added, "There is a much higher level of individual responsibly required at level two... We still need everyone to remain vigilant and continue to act like you and those around you have the virus."
What do the new lockdown measures entail?
If the plan is green-lit, competitive sport could resume in New Zealand from next week. Hair salons and bars could reopen. However, strangers are required to keep a safe distance between each other, and hairdressers, barbers and beauticians are required to wear PPE. Sitting at the "bar" area is also not allowed. The relaxations allow gatherings of up to 100 people, indoors and outdoors.
Most workers allowed to return to offices
Most workers have been allowed to resume work at offices, however, Ardern urged anyone who could work from home or preferred it to do so. Weddings, funerals, and anniversary celebrations could also be allowed from next week.
How bad is the outbreak in New Zealand?
Thus far, New Zealand has reported 1,489 cases of COVID-19, including 21 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The fatalities involved elder patients with pre-existing health conditions. New Zealand has reported zero new cases for two consecutive days. The nation has faced one of the toughest lockdown measures to contain the outbreak, however, its economy is expected to plunge by 8%.