Live updates on the coronavirus: European leaders are weighing on the easing of blockages; Birx says social distance will continue throughout the summer

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As New Zealand prepares to break a strict four-week lockout, government officials say the coronavirus has indeed been eliminated.

While new cases are still being diagnosed, authorities know where each one comes from, said country’s chief health officer, Ashley Bloomfield, at a press conference on Monday. For eight consecutive days, the number of new cases was single-digit, and only 19 deaths were reported in a country of 5 million.

At 11:59 p.m. Monday, New Zealand will ease some of its toughest restrictions, allowing young children to return to school and return to work at businesses that have plans for safe distance and sanitation. Restaurants will be allowed to reopen for take out and delivery only. Services that involve close contact, such as haircuts and manicures, are prohibited. The gymnasiums will also remain closed, but surfing, fishing and swimming are allowed.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned on Monday that relaxing certain locking restrictions could create new risks as more people come into contact with each other, and urged New Zealanders to keep their “bubbles” small. . Large gatherings and trips other than work, exercise and the basics are still prohibited.

“We can only do this if we continue to work together,” said Ardern.

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