HAVELOCK NORTH, New Zealand — New Zealand is moving to reopen the parts of daily life where people come into contact with each other, allowing stores and restaurants to resume operations this Thursday, followed by pubs a week later.
But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that New Zealanders must remain vigilant against the new coronavirus.
“We all know there is more to do,” she told reporters Monday. “We may have won a few battles, but we have not won the war.”
Under the four-level alert system Ardern’s government implemented to control the spread of covid-19, New Zealand spent five weeks in almost complete lockdown, with only essential work and grocery store visits allowed. For the past two weeks, businesses have been allowed to reopen as long as they can enforce physical distancing and serve customers without coming into contact with them.
From Thursday this week, restaurants and cafes, stores and movie theaters will be allowed to reopen, as will playgrounds and gyms. Workers in hair and beauty salons, which can’t carry out their services at a distance, will be required to wear masks and gloves. Schools, child-care centers and universities will reopen on Monday.
Bars and pubs will be allowed to reopen from May 21 but, as with restaurants and cafes, they will be required to space out the tables and offer service from only one server. All gatherings, from parties to religious services, must be limited to 10 people.
New Zealand’s lockdown approach, aimed at eliminating not just containing the virus, quickly got infections under control. There were two days last week with no new infections reported, and three or fewer on the days since, all of them linked to known clusters.
The success has also been linked to aggressive testing, with 3.5 percent of the entire population having been swabbed, Ardern said, more than most other countries.