New Zealand could lift its remaining restrictions on social distancing and group gatherings next week, after recording no new coronavirus cases for an 11th consecutive day.
“Our strategy of go hard, go early has paid off,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday.
“In moving to level one so soon, we will be one of the first countries in the world to have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak and then return to that level of normality so quickly.”
Ms Ardern said the cabinet will make a decision on 8 June, earlier than the planned date of 22 June, having navigated her country to the verge of eliminating the coronavirus.
New Zealand recorded no new cases for an 11th consecutive day on Tuesday and has just one active case.
The country’s success at controlling the virus is largely because of a strict lockdown enforced for nearly seven weeks, which saw most businesses closed and everyone except essential workers having to stay at home.
New Zealand has recorded 1,504 total confirmed infections – fewer than the UK continues to record in a single day – and has recorded just 22 deaths.
Ms Ardern added: “We will be one of the first countries in the world to return to this level of normality so quickly”.
Shopping centres, retail stores and restaurants have already been allowed to reopen in New Zealand, although social distancing has remained in place until now and gatherings are limited to 10 people.
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