All coronavirus restrictions lifted from New Zealand’s largest city

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – All remaining restrictions in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland have been lifted after no locally transmitted cases of coronavirus were reported for two weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday.

Ardern imposed a seven-day lockdown on the city of 1.7 million after a cluster of cases were detected domestically. The lockdown was eased earlier this month but some restrictions were retained, including limits on large public gatherings under an alert level two setting.

Ardern said the city will now join the rest of the country in alert level one, which has no restrictions on gatherings or activity.

“I know everyone in Auckland will be looking forward to a weekend with fewer restrictions,” Ardern said at a news conference.

Swift public health measures combined with aggressive contact tracing, border closures and compulsory quarantine for travellers have been credited with making New Zealand highly successful in keeping the pandemic from spreading.

The country has had about 2,000 cases and 26 deaths linked to coronavirus so far.

New Zealand started its national rollout of vaccines last month and expects to inoculate its entire population by the end of the year.

Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Sam Holmes

FILE PHOTO: People jog past a social distancing sign on the first day of New Zealand’s new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) safety measure that mandates wearing of a mask on public transport, in Auckland, New Zealand, August 31, 2020. REUTERS/Fiona Goodall//File Photo

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