Since the Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern put the entire country on a level-four lockdown mid-March, she has received praise for how successfully the nation seems to have beaten the novel coronavirus. Now, just over a month later that intense protocol is paying off once again. (1)
Jacinda Ardern’s Plan
It has been a rather intense month for the residents of New Zealand. They went from life as normal to this level-four lockdown, the most strict level possible, over the course of two days. The protocol has closed down everything. This means (1):
- No take-out or food delivery
- No amazon or other package deliveries
- No parks
- No beaches
These are some of the most strict COVID-19 regulations to be implemented by a government in the western world. Coming right at the end of their summer, this has been particularly challenging for the surfing communities who normally would have full camps and classes right now. Despite this, the majority of residents agree with the decision, knowing that it was these rules that are the reason why New Zealand has had the lowest number of cases per 100,000 people in the world and only 13 deaths total. (1)
“We have done what few countries have been able to do — we have stopped a wave of devastation,” Arden told CBC News. “The number of cases that each person with the virus passes it on to is now 0.48, less than half a person each. Overseas, the average is 2.5 people, “ (1)
It is because of this that New Zealand is just a few days away from relaxing several of their physical distancing measures, including opening the beaches back up. (1)
A Return to (Somewhat) Normal
On April 27, New Zealand will be transitioning from a level-four lockdown to a level-three. This means (1):
- Elementary and middle schools will open for kids unable to study online at home
- Caregivers or cleaners can come into homes again, so long as they are only servicing one home.
- Construction and forestry will resume.
- Restaurants will be able to provide take-out.
- Beaches will be open to surfing and swimming again.
The situation will be continuously monitored, and provided there is no relapse for two weeks, the country will move down again to a level-two lockdown. For now, the borders will remain closed, though flights to other countries that have also successfully “beaten” the coronavirus such as those in the South Pacific and Taiwan may be allowed. (1)
A Slow Rebuild of the Economy
This is all great news, however, many New Zealand residents know that economically, times will be tough for a while. Tourism is a major industry in the country, where they get nearly as many travelers visiting as there are actual citizens every year. Until tourism is reopened, business will be slow for many. (1)
The country learned from their past mistakes in a 2019 measles outbreak in Samoa that originated in New Zealand. The outbreak was devastating for the little island nation, who did not have the infrastructure to handle it. Prime Minister Ardern’s hope is that the example that her government has set will help other countries handle future outbreaks faster and better. (1)
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