Strict restrictions, a quick closing of borders, and fast action from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, have all paid off for New Zealand. The country has reported its last COVID-19 case has recovered, and there have been no new cases reported for 17 days.
On June 9, New Zealand moved to level 1 restrictions, effectively lifting its anti-coronavirus measures and beginning a “new norm” for New Zealanders. All eyes will be on the South Pacific nation in the coming months, not just as a success story, but as a ‘test’ case as glimpse of what a post-lockdown world could look like, at least until a vaccine is developed.
New Zealand had a 4-stage alert system in place, which triggered their lock down on 25 March, 2020. They have slowly eased into various stages which included level three. This stage allowed Kiwis to get takeaway from local restaurants and cafes – a source of great excitement and relief for coffee lovers!
Under the new rules, all schools and workplaces can open. Weddings, funerals and public transport can resume without any restrictions. Social distancing will still be encouraged for the foreseeable future.
It will still be some time before foreign travellers can visit New Zealand as their borders remain closed for the immediate future. During this time, they will look at easing border control with Australia and perhaps the Pacific islands, forming a ‘travel bubble’ but this is dependent on the success of anti-COVID-19 measures in those countries.
The work is still not over, it will take sustained effort to keep COVID-19 at bay in New Zealand. Suppliers including airlines, airports, hotels, and local operators are working on new protocols to make travel safer in our new world.
In the meantime, New Zealanders are being encouraged to keep their home-grown travel sector healthy by enjoying some domestic travel until international visitors can join them again.