New Zealand is reimposing restrictions on the city of Auckland after three members of the same family tested positive for COVID-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Sunday.
Driving the news: New Zealand’s most populous city will lock down for three days from 11:59pm Sunday. The rest of NZ won’t lock down, but social distancing and other precautions will be reintroduced.
“Three days should give us enough time to gather further information, undertake large scale testing and establish if there has been wider community transmission.”
— Ardern’s remarks at news conference
- Scientists have yet to determine the origins of the community cases. But the mother works at the city’s airport, where newly returned New Zealand travelers pass through on their way to managed hotel quarantine.
For the record: Auckland is entering level 3 restrictions under NZ’s four-tier alert level system, with people urged to stay in their household “bubbles.” Gatherings of up to 10 are permitted in exceptional circumstances, such as funerals.
- Public venues must close and only essential services like pharmacies and grocery stores can open for in-person contact, with distancing measures in place.
The big picture: This will be Auckland’s third lockdown. It last had level 3 restrictions from August through October after an outbreak was contained to the city. There’s been one nationwide lockdown, under level 4, for six weeks from late March 2020.
- The New Zealand government opted not to impose any restrictions despite having cases in the community last month and last November.
- Ardern said the government was acting in precaution over the latest cases while genomic sequencing gets under way, given some of the more virulent coronavirus strains have been detected in returned NZ travelers in hotel quarantine.
By the numbers: There are currently 47 active COVID-19 cases, with 44 in managed hotel isolation.
- A total of 1,974 cases have been confirmed since the pandemic reached New Zealand last March.
Of note: New Zealand is due to begin coronavirus inoculations next week, with border staff the first to receive doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine this Saturday.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.
New Zealand imposes first coronavirus lockdown on city since October – Axios