Burgers, fries and coffee: New Zealanders rush for fast food as COVID-19 lockdown eases

WELLINGTON: New Zealanders queued for burgers, fries and coffee takeaway on Tuesday (Apr 28) after they were freed from a month-long lockdown, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern credited with eliminating domestic transmission of the coronavirus.

Around 400,000 people returned to work after Ardern shifted the country's alert level down a notch, loosening some of the tough movement restrictions that shut down businesses for weeks.

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"Its hard to explain how good this tastes," Christopher Bishop, a lawmaker, said on Twitter after posting a picture with a take away coffee cup.

READ: 'We have won that battle': New Zealand PM on COVID-19 transmission

Long queues of cars snaked up to McDonald's outlets in Auckland and Wellington from the early hours as people sought a fast food fix.

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"We got quarter pounders, Big Macs, drinks … I've still got two cheeseburgers left but I can't finish them," Tai Perez, who arrived at a McDonald's outlet in Auckland at 4am, was quoted as saying by the New Zealand Herald.

New Zealand's 5 million residents were subjected to one of the strictest lockdowns in the world in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with Ardern shutting down much of the country from Mar 26.

Ardern said those measures had paid off. New Zealand has reported just 1,122 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 19 deaths, one of the lowest tallies in the world.

"We can say with confidence that we do not have community transmission in New Zealand. The trick now is to maintain that," Ardern told Radio New Zealand on Tuesday.

READ: 'Just another patient': New Zealand nurse tells of treating British PM for virus

There was growing debate among officials and academics about the terminology that should be used for New Zealand's status in relation to the coronavirus spread, with some saying "elimination" would not allow for recurrent small numbers of cases. They point to the fact that the country reported five new cases and one death yesterday.

"When I talk about elimination it does not mean zero cases, iRead More – Source