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Dungannon women in New Zealand welcome lockdown easing

NEW regulations which have slightly eased the lockdown restrictions in New Zealand are proving more beneficial for the lives of two Dungannon women who have been experiencing the impact of coronavirus in the country.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, the response there has been widely commended. With just 21 deaths and 1,497 positive cases, the country’s approach appears to have proven immensely successful.

Eight weeks ago Paula Cullen and Catherine Winters who now live in Christchurch spoke of the lockdown impact on the other side of the world. Now, as the country’s economy opens up again today (Thursday), they remain confident that the approach there is working.

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“My hope is that I’ll be able to go back to work soon, but with a lot of personal protective equipment because a lot of the work is in close contact with clients,” said Paula.

“We are going to be able to go outside our ‘bubble’, permitted to visit friends nearby because domestic travel is re-opening with physical distancing. Schools are also planned to re-open and bars and restaurants, but only with strict conditions that include one server for one table.

“Contact tracing is going to be a top priority and we’ll have an app which means you sign into everywhere you go. There will also be a chance to gather in a group of no more than 100 at an event, but still with social distancing and if you’re not well then you’re required to stay at home and get a test.”

The country has moved into level three which enables people to travel to work, spend more time outside and order takeaway food.
Both Paula and Catherine feel more relaxed about travelling to the supermarket than might have been the case at the start of the pandemic.

The hope is that New Zealand will soon be in the clear and it recently experienced two consecutive days without a positive case of coronavirus. But the warning has gone out that they are not in the clear and must remain cautious.

“The police have been busy here making sure that the restrictions aren’t breached. There are cases of people having parties. We might have a small bit of room to become complacent compared to Ireland,” added Catherine.

“It’s a really tricky situation because you just never know what’s going to happen. What has made the difference for us is that we went into lockdown very quickly, and the fact that New Zealand is so far from other countries has also been a help.

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“There has also been a lot of transparency here about what is going on with updates twice or more per day.”

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