New Zealand lowered its COVID-19 guard to “Level 2” on Thursday, with most businesses, including gyms, able to resume — but proprietors remained nervous, partly due to the suspension of mainstay-earning tourism when the lockdown began. A staggered alert, introduced on 21 March, was raised four days later to a Level-4 isolation in household “bubbles,” after all border ports had been closed to non-residents. Tourists, including some 12,000 Germans, were gradually evacuated. Schools in New Zealand are to resume next Monday but bars must wait a week. Social gatherings should be kept small — 10 people or less, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Border restrictions would long remain under the “new normal.” New Zealand media reported early Friday no new cases in three days after Ardern’s center-left-led coalition had unveiled budget relief Thursday — which included an 8-week extension of wage subsidies, funding for arts and sport, interim pay cuts for politicians and senior officials — ahead of elections due September. ‘Flight to freedom’ As domestic air travel resumed, Radio New Zealand (RNZ) quoted one passenger heading from the South Island’s Nelson city to the capital Wellington as saying: “I feel like I’m on my first flight to freedom.” Psychologists at Waikato… Read full this story
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