New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, lifted the strict restrictions imposed on it 107 days ago on Friday, as the country's new "traffic light" strategy to tackle the Corona virus began to be implemented.
Auckland, which has a population of about 1.7 million, was under strict rules after detecting one case on August 18. The total number of cases in the latest outbreak has reached 8,745 so far.
Mayor Phil Goff said Friday was a day of celebration after a "long and difficult" closure, but it was necessary to continue to take steps to maintain safety.
The "traffic light" system has been put into effect in the country. Green indicates limited transmission of COVID-19 infection, while orange indicates increased risks and stress on the health system.
Auckland is placed under a red standard - the most stringent level of restrictions - along with some parts of North Island. While all of South Island is subject to orange level restrictions, no area in New Zealand falls within the green level.
High-risk businesses such as gyms and hospitality venues can open their doors to vaccinated customers when the area is set at the green and orange level and continue to operate with some restrictions at the red level.
Such companies that choose to open up to unvaccinated clients face stricter rules. For example, bars and cafes will be required to reduce their maximum capacity under the green level, and service will be limited to non-contact services under the red and orange levels.
Even within the red level, there are restrictions on movement, but schools, essential businesses and healthcare will remain open and people can meet indoors and outdoors.
Approximately 86 percent of the eligible New Zealand population has been fully vaccinated.
New Zealand has a population of 5 million, and has recorded nearly 11,500 cases of COVID-19 and 44 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.
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