New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday that the country no longer has any active cases of COVID-19, after 40,000 residents tested negative for the virus.
In response to New Zealand’s success, Arden stated in a press conference that she would be lifting many of the restrictions that have been in place throughout the country, New Zealand new outlet Stuff reported.
“Today, I can announce that the Cabinet has agreed we will now move to level 1 to get our economy fully open again,” Ardern said. The move includes lifting restrictions on large gatherings and non-essential businesses, and allows for sporting events and concerts to occur without any limitations.
Ardern indicated that despite the country’s success in eradicating the virus from within its borders, the fight was far from over.
“We will almost certainly see cases here again,” Ardern said. “This is not a sign that we have failed. That is a reality of this virus.”
“While we’re in a safer, stronger position, there’s still no easy path back to pre COVID life,” Ardern said, according to the BBC.
While absence of the virus within New Zealand has led to the removal of many restrictions within the country, its border still remains closed to everybody except citizens and residents, and people who enter will still be required to self-quarantine for two weeks.
The country originally closed its border on March 19. “I’m not willing to tolerate risk at our border,” Ardern said that month. The move was simultaneous to other countries’ closing of their own borders as well.
New Zealand has been largely spared from the coronavirus, reporting approximately 1,100 total cases and 22 deaths, according to its Ministry of Health.
New Zealand’s nationwide opening comes as much of the world still grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, especially as widespread protests have raised concerns over a second wave. More than 7 million reported cases have been confirmed internationally and over 400,000 deaths have been recorded, according to a Johns Hopkins University database.