Most countries that are heavily dependent on tourism will re-open their doors next month
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After three consecutive days of no new coronavirus patient, New Zealand decided to reopen bars and other businesses last Thursday, i.e., May 21st.
The country was under lockdown for two months during which many bars struggled to stay afloat but the government decided not to open them early as they were deemed as high-risk spots.
The lockdown got shifted from “Level 4” to “Level 2” with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying "level 2" restrictions will mean retail, restaurants and other public spaces including playgrounds can reopen from Thursday.
"I am announcing that Cabinet agrees we are ready to move into level 2, to open up the economy, but to do it as safely as possible," Ardern told a news conference. However, businesses will be required to have physical distancing and strict hygiene measures in place.
One of the Wellington pub owners Matt McLaughlin said that bars and nightclubs will face a difficult time adjusting to an era of social distancing and contact tracing. "We've got no shows, no theatres, no movies, no All Blacks Tests and we're coming into winter, so our market is going to be really, really squeezed," McLaughlin told AFP at his Panhead Bar in central Wellington.
No more than 100 people will be allowed at a time in a venue and also, the patrons will be required to be seated in groups of no more than 10 people. No one will be allowed to mingle with people of other tables. However, shouting across the room will be permitted, some bar managers said.
Kevin McAree, owner of The Tasting Room, an upmarket winery said, “I think we've got to be realistic and say it's going to be pretty rubbish for the next six months...People's habits have changed [during lockdown]. They're used to maybe having a nice bottle of wine at home and spending a bit more on takeaway food. But eventually they'll want to get out and enjoy themselves."
The time allotted for the pubs to reopen was 8am though McLaughlin said: "No one's really gagging for a pint of beer at that hour."
Till date, New Zealand has reported 1,154 coronavirus cases and 21 deaths. The island country, which is home to nearly 5 million people, has been praised for its swift response to the spread of the coronavirus. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has even said that the country has "won [the] battle" of widespread COVID-19 community transmission. "We went hard and we went early. We got control of the virus, and now we're in a position where we can safely step out of those controls and open our economy back up," Ardern said in a Facebook Live video last week.
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