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On Monday, June 8, New Zealand had no new confirmed cases of coronavirus for the first time since the country went into lockdown in March. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared there was no undetected community transmission in the country and health officials knew where all new cases were coming from. The news means that for now, the coronavirus has been contained in New Zealand.
How did New Zealand beat COVID-19?
Ms Ardern’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been praised worldwide.
New Zealand introduced a strict lockdown early and quickly ramped up tests.
Borders were also closed to anyone except from citizens returning home.
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On Tuesday, New Zealanders hugged and kissed, shopped, and planned parties as the country lifted all coronavirus restrictions for the first time in more than three months.
Prime Minister Ardern told reporters she did “a little dance” when she was told the country no longer had any active virus cases.
She said: ”While we’re in a safer, stronger position, there’s still no easy path back to pre-Covid life, but the determination and focus we have had on our health response will now be vested in our economic rebuild.
“While the job is not done, there is no denying this is a milestone.
“So can I finish with a very simple, ‘Thank you, New Zealand’.”
New Zealand first went into lockdown on March 25 and set up a four-stage alert system.
At level four, most businesses were shut, schools closed and people told to stay at home.
After more than five weeks, it moved to level three in April, allowing takeaway food shops and some non-essential businesses to re-open.
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The country moved into level two in mid-May as the numbers of cases continued to decline.
During this stage, New Zealand introduced a so-called social bubble concept.
The New Zealand government said of the concept: “People must stay within their household bubble but can expand this to reconnect with close family, or bring in caregivers, or support isolated people.
“It’s important to protect your bubble if you extend it.
“Keep your bubble exclusive and only include people where it will keep you and them safe and well.”
The move to level one comes ahead of time with June 22 the original date for reopening.
However, it was brought forward after no new cases were reported for 17 days.
Under the new rules, all schools and workplaces can open and weddings, funerals and public transport can resume without any restrictions.
Social distancing is no longer required but will be encouraged.
Ms Ardern said New Zealand would “certainly see cases again”, adding that “elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort”.
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