Auckland lines up to shop as lockdown eases

Shops and malls in New Zealand’s biggest city Auckland opened their doors for the first time in three months on Wednesday.

This followed the easing of citywide lockdown restrictions to curb COVID-19 infections.

Eager shoppers could also be seen lining up outside malls overnight in anticipation of early bird offers at some shops.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also paid a visit to the city for the first time since the lockdown was imposed.

She sought to allay fears over the hospitality sector continuing to remain shut, despite libraries, museums and zoos being allowed to receive visitors.

"We have maintained contact with hospitality representatives all the way through...we know how tough it's been," Ardern said.

"But the light is at the end of the tunnel. We will see reopenings in the very near future as Auckland starts to hit those targets," she added.

The government has been met with mounting pressure from critics over its strict lockdown, with many calling for more freedom. Thousands this week took to the streets of the country’s capital Wellington, demanding that the government lift restrictions and roll back vaccine mandates.

And while the country has been criticised for a slow start to its vaccination campaign, nearly 80 percent of the eligible population has now received a second dose.

New Zealand still has some of the lowest COVID-19 case and death numbers in the world.

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