Hundreds of hungry Kiwis queued from midnight to get their first Big Mac in weeks as the fast food restaurant re-opened its doors this morning.
Drive-thru services resumed at 5am with dozens of cars queuing before dawn in Christchurch and Wellington and authorities forced to create a special McDonald’s queue lane in Gisborne.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern hailed New Zealanders for their ‘incredible work’ to ‘break the virus’s chain of transmission’, which has allowed the country to downgrade its highest Alert Level 4 to a lower Level 3.
The move means that many shops can re-open while public gatherings of 10 people are now permissible for weddings and funerals and schools will re-open tomorrow.
New Zealand has suffered only 1,124 confirmed cases and 19 deaths – including just two new cases in the last 24 hours – after moving quickly to impose a lockdown in March.
Hundreds of Kiwis lined up to get their first McDonald’s fix in weeks, after level four coronavirus restrictions were eased in New Zealand. Pictured: Dozens of cars wait in line in Christchurch
Motorists queue up for a drive-thru McDonald’s in Wellington this morning as New Zealand lifted its stringent five-week lockdown and downgraded its Alert Level 4 to a lower Level 3
Surfing is among the activities which became permissible again today after the strict lockdown was lifted in New Zealand. 24-year-old surfer Paul Moretti is seen here at Maori Bay in Auckland
Builders work on a construction site in Christchurch today as New Zealand declared its five-week lockdown a success
A woman receives her order outside a small shop in Wellington today, where a cafe worker is wearing a mask
McDonald’s restaurants in Christchurch and Auckland were among those where eager customers began queuing at midnight, while dozens of cars were already waiting at 3.30am in New Plymouth.
In Gisborne, residents launched a Facebook group called ‘How long’s the line at Maccas Gisborne’ to share updates on the re-opening this morning.
New Zealand MP Christopher Bishop was among those to share a photo after getting his McDonald’s fix on Tuesday, tweeting: ‘What a morning.’
McDonald’s delivery is available in addition to the drive thru service, for a limited number of menu items, including favourites such as Big Macs, Quarter Poudners, cheeseburgers and Happy Meals.
Coffee lovers also revelled in in barista-brewed beverages after more than a month without any form of takeaway or restaurant food.
‘It’s thrilling and exciting after a long haul,’ said Roop Kaur, owner of the Mulberry Tree cafe in central Wellington, as she hurried to fill a brisk trade in online orders from office workers.
‘I’m looking forward to some good business because hospitality has suffered a lot.’
New Zealand’s efforts to flatten the curve have been very successful, leading to the country relaxing coronavirus restrictions on Monday night
Eager customers were seen lining up before dawn. The fast food chain reopened at 5.30am on Tuesday
McDonald’s workers were seen preparing food for drive-through customers after it reopened
In Gisborne, in the North Island, the district council was forced to create a McDonald’s ‘queue lane’, designed to help keep traffic flowing in the area
Masked construction workers are pictured at a building site on the first day of the easing of restrictions in Wellington
Aside from allowing takeaways, the move from a maximum Level Four alert means Kiwis can now fish, hunt, surf, swim and play golf.
Retail business can also open, provided transactions do not involve physical contact, while gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed for events such as weddings or funerals.
Schools will also reopen from Wednesday, but authorities said attendances were expected to remain extremely low with the vast majority of students in the South Pacific nation staying at home.
The government predicted 400,000 people in the nation of five million would return to work under the more relaxed regime.
The shift has only a small effect on the social lives of New Zealanders, who are still being asked to stay home and to practise social distancing. But the change is vital for business, with many industries severely sidelined over the last month.
Businesses are still being asked to work from home if they can do so, and any workplaces which require close physical contact are not re-opening.
The government has emphasised that social distancing must be maintained and illuminated roadside signs still flash the message ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’.
People resume construction work in Christchurch today as New Zealand moved out of its strictest alert level on Tuesday
Kaipara Flats School teacher Maddy Tuffley prepares for the return of a small number of students tomorrow in Auckland
Level Three restrictions will be in place for at least two weeks, with Ardern saying they would only be downgraded again if circumstances were right.
Ardern has maintained a health-first approach to fighting COVID-19, arguing a drastic short-term action would benefit the economy in the long run.
The PM today thanked Kiwis for persisting with a month-long lockdown which included ‘the strictest constraints paced on New Zealanders in modern history’.
‘There is no widespread underlying community transmission in New Zealand. We have won that battle,’ she said. ‘It’s worked and we’ve done it together.’
However, she added that ‘at alert level 3 we are not out of the woods’.
‘It is a recovery room, of sorts, to assess if the incredible work that New Zealanders have done at level 4 to break the virus’s chain of transmission and prevent further community outbreak has worked,’ she said.
A man collects takeaway food at a McDonald’s as New Zealand eases strict regulations implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus
People fish from the shore at Bucklands Beach in Auckland today after New Zealand eased its strict lockdown measures
New Zealand only confirmed its first case on February 26, but had shut its borders by March 19 and started imposing a full-scale lockdown on March 26.
The result has produced remarkably low case numbers. On Monday, health officials reported the country’s 19th death from 1,124 confirmed coronavirus cases.
The latest death was a woman aged in her 90s, linked to the St Margaret’s residential care facility in Auckland.
All of New Zealand’s deaths have been elderly people, with 10 out of 19 linked to one of two care homes in Christchurch.
Fewer than 90 people have been to hospital with the disease – including only nine who are currently there – while the overall tally only rises to 1,472 even when ‘probable cases’ are included.
Still, top microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles warned that ‘there may still be some smouldering ashes out there. And they have the potential to become a wildfire again if we give them the chance.’
She added: ‘It can take from two to 10 days for people who are exposed to the COVID-19 coronavirus to come down with symptoms.
‘That means we wouldn’t smell the smoke for a few weeks. And that could put us back where we started before the lockdown.’
What will Level 3 measures mean for New Zealanders?
New Zealand moved its alert level down a notch from Level 4 to Level 3 on Tuesday, April 28. From then on, New Zealanders will have some restrictions lifted including:
– Fishers will be permitted to cast a line from a wharf but not a boat
– People will be allowed to exercise at their local parks or beaches but keep a good 2 metre distance from others
– People are allowed to go swimming and surfing
Driving will be permitted for:
– Driving to school or work for essential workers
– Emergencies and giving effect to court orders
– Shared social bubble arrangements
– Foreign nationals leaving New Zealand
Going back to work:
– Many businesses will start to reopen
– Ardern warned people should still work from home where possible
– Staff have to make sure they keep 1m between each other and practice good hygiene
– Businesses involving face-to-face contact i.e. gyms and hairdressers will have to remain closed
– Parents can choose whether to send their children to school or continue lessons at home
– Ardern wants the majority of children still learning from home
Weddings and funerals:
– Funerals, tangi and weddings can go ahead under alert level 3
– They will be limited to no more than 10 people
– Sharing a meal, food or a wedding reception is not permitted
Courtesy DAILY MAIL