New Zealand set to lift strict level four lockdown from NEXT WEEK as the government prepares to reopen businesses and restaurants
- New Zealand is likely to ease stage four restrictions and move to stage three
- This could see thousands of business reopen after a nation-wide shutdown
- The country locked down non-essential services on March 26 to stop COVID-19
- Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters now feels it’s time to ‘get economy going’
- National cabinet will vote on Monday on whether to lift the draconian measures
- Business that are able to enforce safe social distancing are expected to reopen
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
New Zealand is set to ease their month-long stage four lockdown, which could see thousands of businesses reopen.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said unless there is an unexpected surge in coronavirus cases over the next few days, ‘the evidence looks compelling’ to drop New Zealand’s shutdown level to stage three.
The mandated lockdown of all non-essential services – including bars, restaurants, cafes and take-away food shops – went into effect on March 26.
On Wednesday April 22 the four-week period will come to an end.
New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters (above) feels it’s time to get New Zealand’s economy going after month-long COVID-19 shut down
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (above) ordered the nation-wide, stage four lockdown on March 26 to slow the spread of coronavirus
Mr Peters said cabinet will make the final decision on whether to lift the restriction Monday.
‘It’s wise to make a decision at the last possible moment,’ he told Newstalk ZB radio on Thursday.
‘It would not be wise to make up your mind before Monday next week without seeing what the results today, tomorrow and the next day are.
‘But at the moment things are pointing to an easing up of the situation.’
New Zealand acted early in their fight to contain deadly coronavirus with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordering the lockdown of 4.8 million people when the country had just 283 COVID-19 cases and no recorded deaths.
At present New Zealand has a total of 1,386 confirmed cases including nine deaths.
While New Zealand’s efforts have largely been hailed as a success, opposition leader Simon Bridges said the economic fallout has been severe.
He said Australia would emerge in a far better position economically than New Zealand because it had allowed ‘more businesses and services – such as baristas – to stay open’.
‘Health and the economy were interlocked, and if we did not move fast to get workers and businesses back, mental health issues would be as bad as COVID-19,’ Mr Bridges said.
But with Monday’s cabinet decision likely to be in favor of lifting the restrictions, thousands of operators could be back in businesses.
Mr Peters said the government is currently drawing up a set of guidelines to determine which companies and industries will be able to trade.
Cyclists (pictured) are the only users of Tennyson Street on April 11, 2020 in Napier, New Zealand, after the country went into stage four lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19. Under the restrictions New Zealanders are not allowed to leave their homes unless for exercise, essential supplies
Pictured is the empty streets of the Napier city centre on April 11, 2020 in New Zealand, after the country went into a four-month, nation-wide lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19
‘We want clarity to enable as many businesses to get back into business as possible,’ he said.
‘The guidelines should be as expansive as possible because you have got to trust New Zealanders to follow the rules.
‘They know their lives and the lives of their neighbours are at stake, but in the end we have to get this economy going … as fast as we possibly can without making a mistake on the way though.’
While it is expected gyms and large gatherings at restaurants will still be restricted, any other businesses which are able to enforce social distancing measures will be allowed to operate.
‘What I can say now is that our emphasis at level three moves from ‘essential’ economic activity to ‘safe’ economic activity,’ Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.
‘The critical questions are: is it possible for your business to have social distancing?’
‘Can you build in contact tracing tools or mechanisms to keep track of your supply chain and customers?’
New Zealand Police officers (pictured) enforce stage four lockdown restrictions by stopping cars travelling north towards Hanmer Springs at a checkpoint on April 10, 2020 in Amberley