Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that New Zealand will shift into COVID-19 alert level 2 on Thursday, May 14, but bars and nightclubs will have to wait an extra week.
On Thursday, cinemas, retail stores, playgrounds, gyms and shopping malls can reopen as long as physical distancing and strict hygiene measures are practised.
But schools will not open until Monday, while bars only serving alcohol will only be allowed to open on Thursday, May 21, and they will only be able to invite customers in to be seated so that contact tracing can be done if needed.
The Prime Minister expained that restaurants will be able to open on Thursday, but it's venues "with the primary purpose" of providing alcohol to consume - such as nighclubs - that will have to wait an extra week.
Jacinda Ardern said bars are the most risky businesses with regard to COVID-19. She highlighted how in South Korea bars were allowed to open, but had to close them straight away following an outbreak.
Ardern also called for gatherings to be kept small. She said bars, when they open, will not be able to take group bookings for groups larger than 10 people.
Cabinet will review the decision two weeks' time. Ardern said if the number of cases is still looking promising, gatherings of larger sizes will be permitted.
The Prime Minister began by thanking all the sacrifices Kiwis have made throughout the COVID-19 crisis - from missed birthdays to anniversaries - but for all that, said she "Kiwis from all walks of life were resolute and determined".
She said 3.5 percent of the population has been tested so far, and a lot of work has gone into building up contact tracing, with z185 cases able to be traced a day.
But Ardern cautioned Kiwis to be vigilant and to not get complacent. She said anyone who feels unwell should stay home and contact health authorities.
"We all know there is more to do. We may have one a few battles, but we have not won the war."
Alert level 2 reminder:
- businesses can restart for staff and customers
- 'bubbles' can cease
- domestic travel recommences
- schools and early learning centres can open
- gatherings both indoors and outdoors are limited to 100 people
- public places reopen
- sport and recreation comes back, including professional sports competitions
- home gatherings must be kept small
- hospitality must follow the three S's: seated, separated, single-server
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