Ahead of a potential move next week, Prime Minister Jacinda Adern has outlined what will be the golden rules of life at Level 1.
Gathering restrictions will be removed and all current Covid-19 rules on businesses and services will lift under alert level 1, Ardern announced, adding that it was the Cabinet’s strong desire to drop a level as fast and as safe as possible.
This will be a huge sigh of relief for restaurants, cafes and bars struggling under the Level 2 restrictions.
Adern warned that this did not mean the battle with the virus was over because COVID-19 was still in the world, with over 100,000 new cases being reported daily, this included most of the countries New Zealand had connections with.
The government has said that new behaviours would need to be adopted to keep any future cases under control. This included public health measures such as hand hygiene, to reduce the risk of transmission if cases pop up, and enhanced contact tracing.
“We also need to maintain strict border measures. Let me be clear, the only reason we are in the enviable position of even being able to consider a move to alert level 1 is because of our strict border control," noted Ardern.
All the current restrictions on businesses and services will be lifted at Level 1, so there will be no requirements for physical distancing in public places or at work.
There will no longer be requirements for a single server and seating rules in bars and restaurants.
Gatherings of any size could occur, however, the Government was working with ticketing agencies and large-scale event organisers on a voluntary COVID-19 code, so contact details could be collected if needed for tracing.
The golden rules of level 1 included staying at home if you were sick, calling your doctor if you had cold or flu symptoms, washing your hands, using cough etiquette, following health authorities' advice, and keeping track of your movements, as well as for businesses to keep helping with contact tracing.
“It is one of the key things we can all individually do in order to help us stay in level one in the event of new cases, rather than move back to alert levels," said Ardern, stressing that in the event of future cases, it will be critical to rapidly contact trace.
This week, the government announced that New Zealand was “ahead of schedule" and there was a possibility the country could move to Level 1 next week - possibly by late evening on June 10, if the usual 48-hour notice period was given.