New Zealand to retain coronavirus measures across country until mid-Sept

WELLINGTON:  New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday current restrictions to beat the spread of the coronavirus would be in place until at least mid-September.

Auckland, the country's largest city and the centre of a fresh outbreak, will remain on alert level 2.5 that limits gatherings to no more than 10 people.

"The best economic response remains a strong health response. If we get it right we will ultimately shake off restrictions faster and lessen the risk of bouncing around," Ardern told a news conference.

Other parts of the country will be under alert level 2, which requires people to observe social distancing rules and restricts gathering sizes to no more than 100 people. The settings will be reviewed on Sept. 14.

New Zealand reported five new COVID-19 cases on Friday - three cases of community transmission and two imported cases at managed isolation facilities.

The country has had 1,413 coronavirus cases, of which 112 are active, and 22 deaths.

The Pacific nation of 5 million people had appeared to have succeeded in halting community transmission of COVID-19 but Auckland's fresh outbreak prompted the government to place the city back in lockdown last month.

The lockdown was lifted on Sunday, allowing schools and offices to reopen, although masks are mandatory on public transport across the country.