Jacinda Ardern marks easing restrictions as New Zealand registers 162 new cases

New Zealand will extend the restrictions on coronavirus by another week in its largest city, Auckland, after another day of record new infections.

Cases have continued to rise in the last few days, with 162 reported on Monday as quarantine-free travel reopened to fully vaccinated visitors from New Zealand to Australia.

Of those, 53 people were in the hospital, four of whom were in intensive care. Infections are expected to continue to rise in modeling the outbreak released to the media.

The total number comes as NSW only registered 135 new COVID infections in 24 hours to 1 p.m. 20 Sunday, the lowest daily number since July 22nd.

While New Zealand is battling the spread of the infectious Delta variant of COVID-19, Jacinda Ardern’s government has agreed on a November 10 reopening date for retail stores and institutions such as libraries and museums.

“Because of the high vaccination rates in Auckland, we can move with greater confidence,” Ardern told reporters.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will ease restrictions in the country later this month.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will ease restrictions in the country later this month. Credit: Mark Mitchell/AP

“These decisions are carefully balanced and allow us to escape some of the pressure and fatigue that we know exists in Auckland.”

The city limit for the size of outdoor gatherings was raised to 25 people.

In total, New Zealand has reported around 6,200 cases of COVID-19 and 28 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.

But Ardern said high vaccination rates provided protection to keep hospitalizations down.

“In the past, we worked hard to eliminate all cases. While Delta has forced us to change our approach, vaccines ensure we have the same goal,” she said.

More than 75 percent of New Zealanders, or about 3.1 million people, have now been fully vaccinated, while 88 percent have received at least one dose.

However, the government said an increasing number of new cases are among the Maori community where the vaccination rate is lower.

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