NZ lockdown to slightly ease starting Monday

New Zealand’s strict lockdown has been extended but will end at midnight next Monday, the government announced on Monday.

It was originally due to expire at midnight on Wednesday but has been extended for a further five days mainly to give businesses time to prepare for the slightly more relaxed trading environment beginning next Tuesday.

Most businesses will still remain closed but fast-food operators like McDonald’s, hardware stores and online retailers will be allowed to make deliveries provided there is no human contact and provided that staff operates at a safe distance from each other. Traders will need to meet new government guidelines to ensure the safety of staff and customers.

Retail stores, cafes, bars, pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues will remain closed. Borders will stay closed, and returning New Zealanders are all being placed in two-week quarantine. The slight relaxation of the lockdown will be reviewed in two weeks from next Monday.

The government is keen to ensure that the gains made to date are not lost, while business groups are keen to resume normal trading as soon as it is safe to do so.

Online gaming has been permitted through the lockdown but Lotto reports trading has slumped to about half its normal level, and charities which benefit from the profits of gaming machines have been receiving close to nothing in grants as pubs and clubs have been shuttered for the last four weeks.