New Zealand to ease Covid-19 curbs next week

New Zealand will relax its Covid-19 restrictions by moving to Alert Level 1 and decide on whether to lower Auckland’s alert level on September 21, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

Currently, Auckland remains in Alert Level 2.5, with the rest of country in Level 2, reports Xinhua news agency.

Auckland saw the second wave of community outbreak in August which has been under control.

“Within the Auckland cluster is a potential trouble spot,” Ardern said, referring to the bereavement sub-cluster associated with the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship Church.

“While there is no evidence of significant spread outside of the Auckland cluster, this event does raise the possibility that more people have been exposed within what is already our biggest cluster to date.”

Under Covid-19 Alert Level 2, gathering sizes are restricted to 100 people, while only 10 people in Level 2.5 and Level 3.

At Alert Level 1, everyone can return to work, school, sports and domestic travel, without gathering restrictions.

Airlines and those transport operators requiring pre-bookings can now accept higher volumes of bookings, Ardern said.

However, border restrictions and good hygiene are required, the Ministry said.

Ardern also announced an immediate easing of physical distancing requirements on public transport, based on health advice.

An advisory by the Ministries of Health and Transport for recommended seating configurations on public transport that promoted physical distancing have been revoked, effective immediately.

“With the use of face coverings, our updated advice is that physical distancing should be maintained where possible, however it is not required on either domestic flights or on public transport such as trains, buses and ferries,” the Ministries said in a joint statement.

New Zealand reported one new community case of coronavirus on Monday.

With Monday’s new case and two additional recovered cases, the country’s total number of active cases is 96.

Of those, 39 are imported cases in managed isolation facilities, and 57 are community cases, the statement said.

The country’s overall caseload increased to 1,447, with 24 deaths.