After taking a stricter approach than most nations to tackling COVID-19, New Zealand is now in the enviable position of being able to lift all social distancing restrictions except border controls.
The country reported no active cases today for the first time since 28 February, and it has now been 17 days since the last new case was reported.
Following the good news that it has been 40 days since the last case of community transmission and 22 days since that person finished self-isolation, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured) announced New Zealand would move to Covid-19 Alert Level 1 at 11:59pm.
The declaration means effectively all restrictions will be lifted, although borders will remain closed with mandatory isolation and quarantine as New Zealand's first line of defence.
There will be no restrictions on gatherings, schools or workplaces, but people will be encouraged to keep diaries of their movements, maintain good hygiene and exercise caution.
"With care and commitment our team of 5 million has united to protect New Zealanders' health and ensure we now have a head-start on our economic recovery," Ardern said today.
"At Level 1 we become one of the most open economies in the world and now we must seize our advantage of going hard and early to beat Covid-19 and use the same focus and determination we applied to our health response to rebuild our economy.
"We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time it is a sustained effort."
She noted the world would remain in the grip of a global pandemic for some time to come, and emphasised New Zealand would need to be prepared for more cases.
"Caution and hard work got us down the mountain safely when the descent is always the most perilous part," she said.
"At every step there have been those who've pushed us to do something different, to go faster or further, but our results speak for themselves."
Updated at 4:10pm AEST on 8 June 2020.
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