New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern says she’s discussing a possible safe zone with Australia in which quarantine is not required, as a first step towards reopening international travel after a coronavirus lockdown.
“If we can find a way to make it work with Australia, then that would give that sense of normality,” says Ardern.
New Zealand recorded no new cases of coronavirus Monday, raising hopes it can further relax its lockdown restrictions next week.
The Ministry of Health reported zero new cases for the first time since the lockdown began at midnight on March 25. The nation has 1,487 confirmed or probable cases, of which 86% are defined as recovered. There have been 20 deaths.
“This is the first day we’ve has no new cases, and we want to keep it that way,” Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told reporters in Wellington. “It is cause for celebration. It’s important that we reflect that it is symbolic of the effort everyone has put in.”
New Zealand moved out of its toughest level of restrictions on April 28, dropping to alert level 3, and the government is due to decide whether to move to level 2 on May 11.
The easing from level 4 allowed some industries to open and saw many takeaway outlets and coffee carts resume trading. Although people were encouraged to stay home and maintain social distancing when in public, there was a surge in breaches of the directive, with police and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressing frustration at a spate of social gatherings.
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