WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealanders on Wednesday scrambled to stock up on necessities as the country’s largest city set to reopen, after new cases of coronavirus infections ended a 102-day record. There are no new infections.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the closure of Auckland after 4 new cases of COVID-19 infections were discovered in the city from the same family, even though international borders’ were closed with foreigners and those New Zealand returned to be put into compulsory quarantine.
The source of the new infections remains unclear to date, the government said.
Long lines were reported outside supermarkets in Auckland and across other parts of the country, as people raced for stockpiling of food and other essentials before new restrictions took effect from noon.
New Zealand̵7;s largest city will revert to alert level 3, meaning people should stay away from work and schools, and gatherings or more than 10 people will be restricted. Restrictions will be in effect for three days, until Friday.
The remainder of New Zealand will move to level 2, meaning that social distance measures will be introduced and mass gatherings will be limited to only 100 people.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins told Radio New Zealand on Wednesday that the government is considering mandatory masking of Auckland residents.
New Zealand’s successful fight against COVID-19 was hailed globally and the 5 million-people island nation in the Pacific Ocean was considered one of the safest, as the pandemic raged across the globe.
It marked 100 days without the coronavirus’s domestic transmission on Sunday, but warned against complacency as countries like Vietnam and Australia that once had control of the virus are now fighting back out.
Many calls to postpone the national elections are scheduled for September 19, when political parties suspend campaigns due to new restrictions.
“It will be very difficult to have a mid-September election when we are mid-August,” opposition National Party leader Judith Collins told Newshub.
Ardern, who is seen as a comfortable winner, according to opinion polls, said she has yet to consider the impact of the new restrictions on polls.
Reported by Praveen Menon; @