New Zealand returns to new normal after recovery of last COVID-19 patient

(Update: adds details of rugby competition in full stadiums)

Sydney, Australia, June 8 (EFE).- New Zealand’s prime minister announced Monday the country will return to near-normality after the recovery of its last coronavirus patient and a total relaxation of social restrictions.

At midnight on Monday the country will move to alert level one (level four being total lockdown), removing almost all restrictions previously enforced to control the novel coronavirus epidemic.

“Our goal was to come out the other side as quickly and as safely as we could. To a place where our borders continue to be our first line of defense, but all current rules and restrictions on businesses and services are essentially lifted,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference.

“Today, 75 days later (after the first alert level 4 lockdown was put in place), we are ready.”

All restrictions on the number of people at gatherings or funerals will be removed, as well as physical distancing rules, although this is still encouraged. All economic activity can resume.

Measures have also been lifted on sports events with fans returning to stadiums for the Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa.

It will be the first professional sports competition in the world to be played with public attendance since the pandemic hit.

New Zealand Rugby has said there will be no limit on crowd numbers for the first matches this weekend at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin and Eden Park in Auckland.

NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said in a statement: “It is a testament to all New Zealanders that we are in a position to lift restrictions on mass gatherings and it’s a massive boost for Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa.

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