New Zealanders clogged the drive thru lines of fast food restaurants Tuesday as they began venturing outside at the end of a strict coronavirus lockdown period.
An estimated 400,000 people were expected to leave their homes to go back to their offices or resume recreational pursuits like golfing, surfing, fishing and hunting as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern eased the lockdown, one of the strictest imposed anywhere in the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of Tuesday, Wellington reported two new cases in the country, raising the total number of infections to 1,124 with 19 deaths among its 5 million citizens.
Prime Minister Ardern reduced the coronavirus threat level from Level 4, which shutdown economic activity to all but essential services, to Level 3, which limits citizens to local travel and keeps shopping malls, hairdressers and other businesses closed for at least two more weeks. However with Level 3 the construction industry reopens and the carryout restaurants are back in business. Some schools also have reopened.
New Zealand’s response to the outbreak, including a widespread testing and tracing regime, has won praise from the international community. But Ardern warns that the country needs to ensure “we do not let the virus run away on us again and cause a new wave of cases and deaths."