New Zealand will move to Alert Level 1 at midnight tonight, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced.
It comes after the country has been in a COVID Alert Level for 75 days and there have been no new cases for 17 days.
“Unlike the rest of the world, not only have we protected New Zealanders’ health, we now have a head-start on our economic recovery.”
Ardern says Level 1 will allow for public events and private events such as weddings, functions and funerals to be held without limitations.
Retail, hospitality, public transport and travel across the country will also fully open without limitations.
“This freedom from restrictions relies though heavily on the ongoing role that our border controls will play in keeping the virus out.”
Ardern says keeping the border closed remains the first line of defence to avoid importing the virus.
“Our managed isolation and quarantine at the border will continue and it will be as important as ever as we know this is a potential pathway.”
Ardern says that there will almost certainly be new cases that do arise.
“But when that occurs it will not mean we have failed. It is the reality of this virus. We must be and we are prepared for future cases.”
Businesses and services are being asked to provide people the opportunity to maintain their own diaries of where they’ve been.
“Manual sign-in is no longer required, but we do ask that you put up a QR code poster at the door of your premises so people can scan in and can keep a record for themselves.”
The Prime Minister also asks for support from New Zealanders to help with the economic recovery.
“I encourage you to buy, play and experience New Zealand-made to get our country moving again. Consider it an extra form of support, to visit our country, buy our local products and support our local businesses.”
Reserve Bank analysis shows the economy under Level 1 is expected to be operating just 3.8 per cent below normal levels. That’s an improvement from 8.8 per cent below normal under Level 2, 19 per cent below normal under Level 3, and 37 per cent under Level 4.
Ardern says New Zealanders must remain mindful of the global situation and the harsh reality that the virus will be in our world for some time to come.