NZ’s relaxed bans tougher than ours
New Zealanders are set to breathe a sigh of relief from late on Monday night when the country eases its coronavirus measures that have easily been the world's most restrictive.
Even though the nation is going from "level four" to "level three" restrictions, Kiwis will still have to put up with measures that go far beyond Australia's.
And that's despite both nations being on a similar trajectory of suppressing and, potentially, eliminating the virus.
Some experts have questioned in New Zealand went too far with its strict lockdown.
New Zealand has recorded 1461 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 with 18 deaths. There were five new cases yesterday. Australia has recorded 6675 cases and 80 deaths with 14 new cases emerging on Friday.
Last month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a nationwide level four lockdown of the country that began just before midnight on the 25 March. The lockdown came exactly a month after the first case in New Zealand, from a woman who had arrived in Auckland from coronavirus ravaged Italy.
Unlike Australia, New Zealand defined what the different levels of restrictions meant - level four went way beyond what was occurring on the other side of the ditch.
There was all the social distancing Australians were used to. However, the stay at home advice was more rigorous with only exercise once a day and trips to essential services permitted.
Supermarkets, petrol stations and pharmacies remained open but only one person per household could actually shop.
All other shops were forced to shut - even greengrocers, butchers and liquor stores. Prime Minister Scott Morrison would not have been able to go out and buy a jigsaw to amuse the kids if he lived in Wellington rather than Canberra.
Only essential items could be ordered online, meaning any deliveries of things like books or clothes were on hold. Cafes and restaurants were shut down - there was no popping out for a coffee or getting a takeaway burger delivered. You couldn't even get a drive through KFC.
LEVEL THREE RESTRICTIONS
Last week, Ms Ardern said level three measures would kick in at 11.59pm on Monday.
"We have stopped a wave of devastation," she last Tuesday.
"The effort of our team of 5 million has broken the chain of transmission and taken a quantum leap forward in our goal to eliminate the virus."
However, while New Zealand's level three measures are closer to the current restrictions in Australia, the Kiwis still won't be able to do all the things we can.
The biggest difference is when it comes to shopping. From Tuesday morning only supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations and milk bars will be allowed to have people physically in the shop, according to the New Zealand Herald.
The doors to Harvey Norman, Bunnings, Kmart and similar will remain firmly shut. Going to the barber will still be barred in the land on the longer white beard.
However, New Zealanders will be able to now buy online.
Many pubs in Australia have swiftly changed to selling takeaway alcohol, but that won't be allowed in New Zealand.
You will only be able to turn up an buy a coffee from a petrol station or supermarket.
Cafes and restaurant will be allowed to trade, but all orders will have to be online or through an app with eateries placing the food and drinks to be collected on tables outside the premises to ensure contactless pick up. Or meals can be delivered.
Australian National University infectious diseases expert Peter Collignon has said New Zealand's restrictions were unnecessary.
"Australia is doing better than New Zealand without going to their extreme,"
Indeed, Professor Collignon has said that much of Australia's success was down to earlier restrictions - such as closing borders and pubs - rather than fining people on park benches and stopping sunbathing.
However, PM Ardern has said the step down to level three would look to build on the gains achieved during the lockdown.
"Level three is a progression, not a rush to normality. It carries forward many of the restrictions in place at level four, including the requirement to mainly be at home in your bubble and to limit contact with others," she said last week.
"Protecting the health of New Zealanders is our primary focus but we also need to position the economy for recovery."
Coronavirus measures in Australia vary from state to state but generally most stores can open although cafes, pubs and restaurants are barred from indoor dining.
Exercise is allowed and people can travel for work or education but the advice is to remain home for most of the time.
In the eastern states, only two people at a time can meet up but they should remain 1.5 metres apart.
The Prime Minister has said these measures are likely to remain in place until mid-May although states may choose to loosen some restrictions earlier.
Originally published as NZ's relaxed bans tougher than ours