Due to a mixture of strict quarantine, travel restrictions and widespread testing, New Zealand has reported no new coronavirus cases for 17 days and has no active cases. The country plans to lift nearly all of its restrictions Tuesday.
The last community-transmitted case occurred 40 days ago and New Zealand hospitals currently have no Covid-19 cases.
Beginning Tuesday, the country will allow schools and offices to reopen with no limitations on domestic travel or gathering size, though international travel remains restricted, per CNN.
“This freedom from restrictions relies though heavily on the ongoing role that our border controls will play in keeping the virus out,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a Monday press conference.”The virus will be in our world for some time to come.”
New Zealand had one of the toughest and earliest lockdowns: With no deaths and just over 100 cases in mid-March, the country closed all non-essential businesses, schools (though children of essential workers were permitted to continue attending) and cancelled all gatherings and events.
From March 24 to April 9 the country entered its strictest lockdown, allowing non-essential workers to only leave home for essential exercise within close proximity to their residences.
Adern also said that New Zealand has one of the highest testing rates per capita globally.
“We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort,” said Ardern on June 7.
Under the country’s reduction to Alert Level 1, citizens are not restricted in personal movements but are encouraged to “maintain a record of where they have been” and authorities will aim to carry out rapid contact tracing of any new cases that are identified.
Alert system overview (New Zealand Government)