New Zealand lifts state of emergency as virus cases decrease
SYDNEY, Kyodo - New Zealand on Wednesday lifted its state of national emergency, with the government citing the decreasing numbers of new COVID-19 cases.
The move comes on the eve of New Zealand's progression to Alert Level 2 restrictions, down from a monthlong national lockdown at Alert Level 4, which began in late March.
Under the eased restrictions, spaces including restaurants, cinemas, playgrounds and gyms can reopen from Thursday, with schools restarting Monday and bars from May 21.
"This move does not signal that New Zealanders should stop being vigilant in protecting themselves and others from the virus," Civil Defense Minister Peeni Henare said in announcing the lifting of the state of national emergency declared on March 25.
"It is essential we all follow the Alert Level requirements to ensure we do not lose the gains we have made," he said.
A National Transition Period is now in place, during which the government will ensure the conservation and supply of food, fuel and other essential supplies, while directing people to stop any activity that may allow the coronavirus to spread.
Since May 3, the number of new infections in New Zealand has been reduced to three or less per day. It has recorded nearly 1,500 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 21 deaths. (Kyodo)