New Zealand Reports No Active Coronavirus Cases

New Zealand's prime minister announced she's lifting almost all of her remaining coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

New Zealand Reports No Active Coronavirus Cases
Mark Mitchell / AP

New Zealand's prime minister is lifting almost all of her remaining coronavirus lockdown restrictions, after reporting there are no active COVID-19 cases in the country for the first time since late February.

"We have tested almost 40,000 people for COVID-19 in the past 17 days and none have tested positive. We have had no one in hospital for COVID-19 for 12 days. It's been 40 days since the last case of community transmission," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Health experts credit New Zealand's stringent "go early, go hard" lockdown rules for its success. And now, life should return to relatively normal for New Zealand's 5 million residents as the country transitions to its lowest coronavirus alert level around midnight Monday.

All schools, workplaces and services like public transportation will be allowed to resume normal operations. There will no longer be restrictions on large public gatherings. And people won't be required to social distance from each other, but they are still encouraged to do so.

But while residents will be allowed to travel domestically, New Zealand's international borders will still remain shut to foreigners.

"We will almost certainly see cases here again, and that is not a sign that we have failed, it is a reality of this virus. But if and when that occurs we have to make sure and we are, that we are prepared. That's the reason our borders remain our first line of defense as we aim not to import the virus," Ardern told reporters.

Because of this, the prime minister said she has no timeframe for when she might lift those international travel restrictions.