New Zealand mulls lessening lockdown restrictions

In New Zealand, the government is set to announce this afternoon whether the country will come out of a strict Level Four lockdown. 

The change, when it comes, essentially moves the country from being completely closed (Level Four), with exceptions for essential services to mostly closed (Level Three) with exemptions for a business that can operate safely.

At the moment, that is being interpreted as allowing online operations with contactless delivery and payments and allowing the business to restart where staff can operate at safe distances when on company premises.

Retail shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants are expected to remain closed, perhaps for another two weeks. Early childhood and primary schools could reopen but attendance would be voluntary.

Casino operator SkyCity will also remain closed during this level lockdown, with a spokesman confirming that “anything customer-facing would remain closed” in a Level Three lockdown. 

However, SkyCity’s online gaming operations are continuing to operate.

Pressure has been building to ease restrictions as the daily number of new cases has fallen. The Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has said there is “no value” in trying to save people who have coronavirus if it means greater social damage is caused…. like depression, suicide, breakdowns and a whole lot of other social things having far greater social damage.”

Any changes announced later today will take effect from midnight on Wednesday, 28 days from the start of the lockdown.

SkyCity’s share price has recovered sharply after falling to its lowest ever level of $1.43 on 24 March. It opened this morning at $2.53 up 77 percent in the last month but still well below its peak on $4.13 in January this year.

The company’s board meets on Tuesday but no statement to the market is expected.

New Zealand currently has 1431 cases of COVID 19 and has recorded twelve deaths with over nine hundred people who have recovered from the disease. The number of new cases reported each day has fallen consistently over the past week.