New Zealand’s Ardern Says Auckland on Track to Exit Lockdown
(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern further eased Covid-19 restrictions in Auckland and said the country’s largest city is on track to exit lockdown by the end of the month.
Auckland retailers and malls can reopen on Nov. 10, Ardern said Monday in Wellington. The government expects Auckland to reach the milestone of being 90% fully vaccinated within weeks, allowing to it to move out of most remaining lockdown restrictions, though residents may still not be allowed to leave the city, she said.
“Cabinet has a check-in on Nov. 29 and there is a strong expectation that Auckland will likely move into the Covid-19 Protection Framework following this check-in,” Ardern said, referring to the new traffic-light system that will see New Zealand move away from large-scale lockdowns.
Auckland has been locked down for 83 days in an attempt to suppress the spread of the delta variant of Covid-19 while vaccination rates increase. Most of the rest of New Zealand is largely free of restrictions, though social distancing and mask-wearing is required in indoor public spaces.
Even when Auckland comes out of lockdown, it is unlikely residents will be able to travel out of the city until vaccination rates in the rest of the country are higher, Ardern said.
“Obviously for the Auckland border, it’s not just about Auckland,” she said. “It’s about the status of the rest of the country and their vaccinations.”
In addition to Auckland retailers being allowed to open from midnight Tuesday, public facilities will also reopen and the number of people who can gather outdoors will increase to 25. Hospitality venues like cafes, bars, and restaurants must remain closed.
“In making this decision we have also considered the ongoing mental emotional strain of lockdown on Aucklanders and the impact on businesses,” Ardern said. “We do hope this easing will relieve some of the pressure.”
There were new 190 infections in the community reported on Monday, the Ministry of Health said, the second highest daily total.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.