WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealanders on Wednesday tried to amass essential materials as the country’s largest city prepared to reopen after new coronavirus cases ended a 102-day record of running without any infection. new.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced overnight that she was closing Auckland after four new COVID-19 cases were discovered in the city by the same family, despite the fact that international borders were closed to foreigners and New Zealand’s return was entered into mandatory quarantine.
The government has said the source of the new infections was unknown so far.
Long queues were reported outside supermarkets in Auckland and other parts of the country as people tried to stockpile food and other essential items before the new restrictions took effect by noon.
New Zealand’s largest city will be relocating to level 3 alarm blocking, which means people should stay away from work and school, and rallies or more than 10 people would again be restricted. The restrictions will be in effect for three days, until Friday.
The rest of New Zealand will move to level 2, meaning that social distancing measures would be implemented and mass gatherings would be limited to 100 people.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins told Radio New Zealand on Wednesday that the government was considering making the mask mandatory for the Aucklanders.
New Zealand’s successful war against COVID-19 was hailed worldwide, and the Pacific island nation of 5 million was considered one of the safest countries as the pandemic swept the globe.
It marked 100 days without an internal transmission of the coronavirus on Sunday, but warned against complacency as countries like Vietnam and Australia that once had the virus under control are now reclaiming the battle.
Calls have risen to postpone the national elections scheduled for September 19th, as political parties suspended campaigns due to new restrictions.
“It will be very difficult to have elections in mid-September, when we are now in mid-August,” National Party opposition leader Judith Collins told Newshub.
Ardern, who is seen gaining comfort, according to opinion polls, has said she has not yet considered the impact of the new restrictions on polls.
Reporting by Praveen Menon; @