On Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lessened the country’s strict lockdown restrictions, however businesses and schools will stay closed, and Auckland, the country’s largest metropolis, will remain closed for longer.
Except for Auckland and Northland, Ardern said all of New Zealand will be on alert level 3 starting Tuesday, Aug. 31.
Businesses can only provide click-and-collect or contactless services at level 3. Except for takeout, bars and restaurants are closed.
Public venues are closed, and wedding and funeral gatherings are limited to ten persons.
“This is a wait and watch level,” Ardern said.
The prime minister added that the country was possibly starting to see a plateau in cases.
Auckland and neighboring Northland will remain in full level 4 lockdown, possibly for another 2 weeks, Ardern said.
This means Auckland, the epicenter of the outbreak, will be cut off from the rest of the country for now.
The country reported 70 new cases of COVID-19 in the community on Friday, all in the epicentre Auckland, taking the total number of cases in the latest outbreak to 347.
New Zealand has been largely free of the virus since last year, barring a small number of cases in February, but that changed last week after an outbreak of the Delta variant erupted in Auckland, prompting Ardern to order the lockdown.
The country has about 2,900 confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far and 26 related deaths.