New Zealand lifts coronavirus restrictions after beating Auckland outbreak

Victoria Bell
·3-min read

Watch: New Zealand lifts Auckland virus limits

New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said the country has “beat the virus again” as Auckland prepares to come out of a second lockdown.

The island nation says it has overcome a potential second wave of the coronavirus that hit New Zealand's biggest city in August, forcing its residents back into lockdown for over a month.

Ardern said on Monday there had been no new confirmed cases in Auckland for 12 days and that she was confident the virus had been contained.

The 40-year-old was pictured looking cheerful as she and fiance Clarke Gayford arrived to vote in Auckland in the upcoming New Zealand general election over the weekend and posed for photos with supporters.

The election was originally due to be held on Saturday 19 September but was delayed due to the re-emergence of COVID-19 in the community.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 03: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern votes at the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall on October 03, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. The 2020 New Zealand General Election was originally due to be held on Saturday 19 September but was delayed due to the re-emergence of COVID-19 in the community. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern votes at the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall on 3 October in Auckland. (Getty)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 03: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern poses for a photo after voting at the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall on October 03, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. The 2020 New Zealand General Election was originally due to be held on Saturday 19 September but was delayed due to the re-emergence of COVID-19 in the community. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Jacinda Ardern poses for a photo after voting in Auckland as the country once again declares itself coronavirus-free. (Getty)

An opinion poll in July showed the Labour leader on track to cruise to victory as her party charted 61% – likely a result of her government’s quick handling of the coronavirus crisis, which included an early national lockdown, an efficient testing and trace system, and the decision to close its borders to non-New Zealand residents.

In late May Ardern proclaimed New Zealand coronavirus-free after its national lockdown.

New Zealanders enjoyed 102 days without community transmission before a cluster was identified in Auckland and tough restrictions were introduced in the city.

Now it appears the virus has been eradicated once again and that citizens can enjoy some semblance of normality.

Read more: 'Amazing leader': Jacinda Ardern praised for mask video

“All signs point to it now being under control,” Ardern said.

“Aucklanders and New Zealanders have stuck to the plan twice now and beat the virus again. We put our heads down and got on with it.

“There is now a 95% chance of the cluster being eliminated. We are confident it has been contained.”

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 03: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and fiance Clarke Gayford arrive to vote at the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall on October 03, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. The 2020 New Zealand General Election was originally due to be held on Saturday 19 September but was delayed due to the re-emergence of COVID-19 in the community. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Jacinda Ardern and fiance Clarke Gayford arrive to vote. The 2020 New Zealand general election was originally due to be held on Saturday 19 September but was delayed due to the COVID-19 re-emergence. (Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 25: Staff at Honey Bones cafe in Grey Lynn serve takeaway customers at level three lockdown on August 25, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. Auckland will remain at level three COVID-19 restriction levels until Monday, August 31, when it will downgrade to level two with the rest of New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
Staff at an Auckland cafe serve takeaway customers at level 3 lockdown in August. (Getty Images)

Auckland's restrictions will lift at midnight on Wednesday, meaning the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland on 18 October can be played in front of a full stadium.

Read more: Expatriate New Zealanders seen boosting Ardern’s election bid

But Ardern warned people to not become complacent as she pointed out there has been a decline in use of the national COVID-19 tracing app and a fall in test numbers.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 21: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern uses hand sanitiser as she leaves a press conference at Parliament on August 21, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. COVID-19 restrictions have been reinstated across New Zealand as authorities work to contain a new COVID-19 outbreak in the community. Auckland is at Level 3 lockdown restrictions, while the rest of New Zealand is operating under Level 2. Cabinet are reviewing the Alert Levels and an announcement on future changes will be made on Monday 24 August. The current restrictions will be in place until 11:59pm Wednesday 26 August.  (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
Jacinda Ardern uses hand sanitiser as she leaves a press conference at Parliament in August. The NZ prime minister has warned people not to get complacent. (Getty)

"A resurgence of the virus is not our only worry, resurgence of complacency is right up there too," Ardern said.

New Zealand’s tough approach has limited its total coronavirus cases to 1,855 and deaths to 25, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Watch: UK coronavirus cases are rising – so why are deaths still low?

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