14 May 2020

New Zealanders queue for barbers at midnight as country further relaxes coronavirus lockdown measures

Those in desperate need of a haircut queued from midnight in New Zealand with barbers opening their doors as the country moved into level two lockdown after a third consecutive day without any new reported coronavirus cases.

A number of barbers were inundated with customers and saw queues around the block as they opened on the stroke of midnight while restaurants, cafes, shopping centres and public parks were also permitted to allow customers.

Cafes and restaurants are now permitting customers (PA Images)

Conrad Fitz-Gerald, who owns a barber shop in Christchurch told Sky News  he had received around 50 inquiries for midnight haircuts.

“People are saying their hair is out of control, they can't handle it anymore,” he said.

"Lots of parents of teenage kids have been calling up, too, thinking a haircut at midnight would be a great novelty. 

“Unfortunately, we are full up,” he finished.

Authorities have reported that there is now a very low chance of transmission in the country and residents are even allowed to congregate in groups as large as 10.

Professional sport is also allowed to re-start and offices re-opened for workers on Thursday, although those who can work from home have been urged to continue this in order to help avoid a second wave of infection.

Children will also be able to return to school from Monday.

New Zealand has seen just 1,497 confirmed cases of the deadly virus out of a population of around five million people, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. 

They also show that 21 people have sadly lost their lives because of the virus, and there are currently less than 90 who are still sick.

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden had already begun to release lockdown measures in late April allowing some non-essential businesses and takeaway food shops to open.

She has been praised for her response to the pandemic and controlling the number of cases in New Zealand, despite a huge hit to the country's economy because of early closures to businesses.

Jacinda Arden went "hard" and "early" with lockdown (PA Images)

 "We're going hard and we're going early," Ms Ardern announced in mid-March. "We only have 102 cases, but so did Italy once."

She ruled that non-essential businesses as well as beaches, parks and waterfronts would be closed from March 26 but the re-opening is a positive step towards the economy recovering.

For now, bars and pubs remain closed but first orders are expected to be allowed from May 21 as the country do not want to see an outbreak in the same way as South Korea did when they reopened their clubs.

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