Jacinda Ardern condemns Boris Johnson's message to 'learn to live' with the virus

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has insisted that the country will not follow the UK's plans to drop social distancing

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 15: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during the update on the All of Government COVID-19 national response, at Parliament on April 15, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. New Zealand has been in lockdown since Thursday 26 March following tough restrictions imposed by the government to stop the spread of COVID-19 across the country. A State of National Emergency is in place along with an Epidemic Notice to help ensure the continuity of essential Government business. Under the COVID-19 Alert Level Four measures, all non-essential businesses are closed, including bars, restaurants, cinemas and playgrounds. Schools are closed and all indoor and outdoor events are banned. Essential services will remain open, including supermarkets and pharmacies. Lockdown measures are expected to remain in place for around four weeks, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warning there will be zero tolerance for people ignoring the restrictions, with police able to enforce them if required. (Photo by Mark Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images)
(Image credit: (Photo by Mark Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images))

Jacinda Ardern has denounced Boris Johnson's plans to drop mandatory face masks and social distancing, warning that the world has yet to beat COVID-19.  

The Prime Minister of New Zealand has expressed strong words in response to questions about Britain's freedom date of 19 July, when people will be legally allowed to stop wearing face masks and social distancing

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that the country will go ahead with the final stage of its four-step recovery plan, telling Brits they need to “learn to live with” the virus. He also predicted that COVID cases could rise to 50,000 within a fortnight, leading to "more deaths" related to the disease. 

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Ardern emphasized that her government will not be emulating the UK's roadmap back to normality. 

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"Different countries are taking different choices," she said. “The priority for me is how do we continue to preserve what New Zealand has managed to gain and give ourselves options because this virus is not done with the world yet.”

Ardern's sentiments were shared by the country’s Covid-19 response minister, Chris Hipkins, who argued that the UK's expected rise in cases is "not something that we have been willing to accept in New Zealand." 

“One of the things the UK government have been very clear about [is] that there will be a spike in cases, potentially thousands of cases a day. There will be more people dying,” he said.

“We are likely to see more incremental change than dramatic change where we wake up one morning and say: ‘We just go back to the way things were before Covid-19.’”

New Zealand has also not ruled out placing the UK on a 'no-fly' list. “If they do get an increase in cases, we will be keeping a close eye on what that means for the risk of people traveling from the UK and that will inform our decisions here,” Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, said on Wednesday. 

New Zealand has been widely praised by the international community for its handling of the coronavirus. The country has recorded just 2763 coronavirus cases and 26 deaths since March 2020, having implemented tight border controls and a strict quarantine policy early on in the pandemic. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.