Lockdown in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, will not be lifted, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said as the country, which is trying to stem a Delta outbreak, reported the worst number of Covid-19 cases in 11 days on Monday.
About 1.7 million people in Auckland will remain under strict Level 4 lockdown until midnight on September 21, Ardern said during a news conference in Wellington’s capital.
According to the government’s plan, the Covid-19 restrictions in the city will be eased to level 3 after that, the PM added.
Level 4 reset rules prevent people from leaving their homes for no viable reasons. They only allow the most important businesses – such as supermarkets or petrol stations – to remain in operation, with all gatherings banned, and public facilities, including schools, shut down.
The news that the curbs remain in place did not come as a big surprise after New Zealand reported 33 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, which was the worst number in 11 days.
All of these infections were recorded in Auckland, which has become the country’s Delta variant hotspot. Since the outbreak started four weeks ago, the city has seen 938 people contract the virus, with 17 other cases reported in Wellington.
New Zealand, which shut itself off from the rest of the world during the pandemic, had been largely united by the coronavirus, but the island nation imposed tough home orders in mid-August due to an outbreak of the Delta variant. The restrictions were later eased for most of the country, but Auckland have remained locked in for almost a month now.
The Ardennes cabinet is also facing criticism over a sluggish rollout of vaccines, with only about 35% of New Zealand’s 5 million inhabitants fully vaccinated to date.
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