New Zealand declares itself virus-free, removes restrictions

New Zealand has eliminated the coronavirus (COVID-19) and will remove its social distancing measures, the country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. (Photo: The Australian)

Ardern said there are no active cases in its population of 4.9 million people, adding that the country will end all its restrictions on businesses and people as it moves towards returning to normalcy.

The nation has not had a confirmed COVID-19 case for 17 days.

However, New Zealand’s borders will continue to be closed to non-nationals, which will further hurt its largest earner of foreign exchange, tourism.

The country said only its nationals and some foreign workers with special skills will be exempted during the continued border closure.

“We united in unprecedented ways to crush the virus. Our goal was to move out the other side as quickly and as safely as we could. We now have a head-start on our economic recovery,” Ardern said at a press conference in Wellington.

New Zealand recorded 1,504 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 22 deaths.