New Zealand to reopen movie halls, schools, bars over next 10 days

Sydney, Australia, May 11 (efe-epa).- New Zealand, which has virtually halted the transmission of COVID-19 in the country with an early response to the pandemic, will resume almost all of its activity, including cinemas, schools and bars, in a staggered manner over the next ten days.

Social distancing measures will, however, remain in place.

Cinemas, restaurants, cafes and gymnasiums will reopen on May 14, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday at a press conference in Wellington, in which she outlined the relaxation of the measures imposed due to the novel coronavirus from level 3 to level 2.

“At Level 2 we are now out and about again, just about all parts of the economy are opening up again,” added the New Zealand leader, who has been praised internationally for her success in containing the virus.

Retail stores, malls and other public spaces including children’s playgrounds will also reopen on Thursday, when health services too will restart.

Children will return to school on May 18 while bars will be reopened three days later, on May 21.

The easing of the alert level will require the country’s citizens to continue maintaining their distance from each other with social gatherings capped at 10.

New Zealand, which imposed one of the strictest lookdowns in the world, has recorded 1,147 cases of COVID-19 so far, including 21 deaths and three new infections in the last 24 hours.

Ardern said her government will review the remaining restrictions in two weeks with a view to returning to normal.

“We may have won a few battles, but we have not won the war,” Ardern warned.

The New Zealand government gradually began implementing restrictions at the end of March when there were just 28 cases of the novel coronavirus in the country and declared a nationwide lockdown on Mar. 25.

On April 28, the government began to ease measures with an authorization for the resumption of 75 percent of economic and commercial activities although restrictions on social activities and physical distancing measures remain in force.

New Zealand is aiming to completely eradicate the virus from its territory, which is home to about 5 million people. EFE-EPA


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