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NZ relaxes Covid curbs in North Island

Wellington : New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland will see its restrictions slightly eased from November 9, and its nearby city Waikato will relax restrictions from Tuesday night, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday.

Waikato will move to Alert Level 3 – Step 2 on Tuesday at 11.59 p.m., meaning outdoor gatherings can increase to 25 and public facilities, such as libraries and zoos, and retail can open with mask-wearing, contact tracing and physical distancing, Xinhua news agency quoted Ardern as saying.

“It’s because of high vaccination rates that we can move forward with confidence, but public health measures remain extremely important as we ease restrictions,” Ardern said.

Cabinet has agreed in-principle to a shift down for Auckland to these same settings on November 9.

Vaccination rates are climbing steadily, with fewer than 5,000 doses to go before 90 per cent of people have had their first dose, the government’s primary goal of further lowering alert levels, the Prime Minister said.

The latest numbers also show that 80 per cent of Auckland’s eligible population are now doubled vaccinated, she said, adding that these rates offer greater protection now, even as work continues to ensure every single person who can be, is vaccinated.

“The public advice we’ve had is that opening up retail doesn’t lead to a marked increase of cases,” Ardern said, adding that social distancing and wearing masks can substantially reduce the risk of transmission when people gather outside.

“Cabinet has carefully balanced the ongoing need to minimize cases against the pressure and fatigue of ongoing restrictions on Aucklanders,” she said.

The best way to ease restrictions safely is to have high vaccination rates, Ardern said, calling for more people to get vaccinated in the week before next Tuesday.

There were more than 20,000 vaccines administered on Sunday, taking New Zealand’s vaccination rate to 88 per cent for first doses and 75 per cent for second doses representing more than 3.1 million fully vaccinated New Zealanders, statistics show.

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