New Zealand Ends the Last of COVID-19 Restrictions

Chase Baker
Chase Baker
Chase is a seasoned journalist and former resident of Iraqi Kurdistan. With a background in English and Philosophy from the College of Charleston, Chase covered the 2022 conflict in eastern Ukraine, including cities like Kharkiv, Bakhmut, and Kramatorsk. He has also produced short documentaries in Ukraine and the U.S., and has been with Atlas for three years.

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What You Need To Know:

New Zealand took a decisive step on Monday, discarding all remaining COVID-19 restrictions, signifying the conclusion of a globally watched pandemic response.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced the end of the mask mandate in healthcare settings and the cessation of the seven-day isolation rule for those infected with the virus, effective midnight.

The Details:

Initially acclaimed for its virus elimination tactics involving strict lockdowns and border controls, New Zealand’s approach became challenged as more transmissible variants surfaced, prompting a shift away from its zero-tolerance strategy.

Reflecting on over three years of virus management, Prime Minister Hipkins shared that while he had eagerly awaited the moment to lift all restrictions, the actual experience felt somewhat anticlimactic. He disclosed that approximately 3,250 New Zealanders out of a 5 million population had succumbed to COVID-19 as a primary or secondary cause—a fifth of the mortality rate seen in the United States.

“While our unity may have wavered, New Zealanders can take immense pride in our collective achievements,” Hipkins said. “We sheltered, sacrificed, embraced vaccination, and unquestionably, saved lives.”

Health Minister Ayesha Verrall emphasized the positive trend in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, noting a decline since June. The publicly funded health system operated with fewer disruptions during the southern winter, facilitating an impressive 16,000 additional operations compared to the previous year.

This announcement arrives ahead of an impending general election in two months.

David Seymour, leader of the opposition ACT Party, critiqued the government’s approach, alleging it had treated citizens with undue paternalism. Seymour underscored the government’s imposition of substantial costs with marginal benefits, highlighting perceived delays in addressing these concerns.

Notably, the Green Party of New Zealand put out a statement after the news broke which declared their position that COVID-19 restrictions should continue.