New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there was “no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand”, adding: “We have won that battle.”
But she said the country “must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way”.
“We are opening up the economy, but we’re not opening up people’s social lives,” Ms Ardern said at the daily government briefing.
New Zealand has reported fewer than 1,500 confirmed or probable cases of coronavirus and 19 deaths.
The country brought in some of the toughest restrictions in the world on travel and activity early on in the pandemic, when it only had a few dozen cases.
It closed its borders, started enforcing quarantine of all arrivals in the country, brought in a stringent lockdown and mounted an extensive testing and contact tracing operation.
Beaches, waterfronts and playgrounds were shut on 26 March, as were offices and schools. Bars and restaurants were also closed, including for takeaway and delivery.
Ms Ardern said modelling indicated New Zealand could have had more than 1,000 cases a day if it had not brought in the lockdown so early.
She said the country could never know how bad it would have been, but that “through our cumulative actions we have avoided the worst”.
New Zealand’s remote location and easily sealable borders played in its favour when the virus broke out, experts say.
But the government has also been praised for the clarity of its messaging throughout the crisis.
Mass gatherings are still banned, shopping centres remain closed and most children will remain away from school. New Zealand’s border will remain closed.
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