Coronavirus: New Zealand eases lockdown restrictions and moves into level two

New Zealand has entered level two of lockdown easing – and the country is open for business.

Shopping centres, retail stores and restaurants reopened as of midnight with many people returning their workplaces during the coronavirus pandemic.

But most gatherings will be limited to 10 people and social distancing guidelines will remain in place under the level two restrictions.

During the pandemic, New Zealand has created a numerical system which details the specific measures that are being taken to protect people and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It is known as the “Alert System” and ranges from levels one to four, with four being the most restrictive.

Level two allows for businesses to reopen safely, travel between regions and socialise with friends and family in groups of up to 10.

In addition, weddings, religious ceremonies and recreation activities can have up to 10 people. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a similar alert system for the UK last week.

New Zealand reported no new cases of the virus on Tuesday and Wednesday. More than 1,400 of the nearly 1,500 people who contracted the virus that causes COVID-19 have recovered in the country, while 21 have died.

Most New Zealand schools will reopen on 18 May but bars will not reopen until 21 May, a decision that was prompted in part by the experience in South Korea, which has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases linked to nightclubs in Seoul.

Barbers and hairdressers have also reopened as part of the easing of restrictions.

Conrad Fitz-Gerald said he received about 50 inquiries for midnight haircuts, but limited the initial customers to a dozen, starting with his 18-year-old son Heathcliff.

The owner of Cathedral Junction Barbers in Christchurch added: “People are saying their hair is out of control, they can’t handle it anymore.

“Lots of parents of teenage kids have been calling up, too, thinking a haircut at midnight would be a great novelty. Unfortunately, we are full up.”

Mr Fitz-Gerald said he was trying to make sure the virus could not spread in his shop, adding he made his own “supercharged” hand sanitiser from isopropyl alcohol and also had masks available for his customers on request.

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