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New Zealand rolling out new COVID-19 restrictions

New Zealand is rolling out new COVID-19 restrictions as the country works to prevent an outbreak in cases driven by the omicron variant.

Just before midnight on Sunday, New Zealand will move into its Red setting, triggering a number of mitigation measures to tame the spread of the virus, according to a statement from the government.

Individuals in the country will be required to wear masks in public venues and on public transportation and physically distance when possible. Private gatherings in homes that follow vaccine pass regulations will be limited to 100 people, while meetings at other venues will be curbed at 100 people based on 1 meter of physician distancing.

Other gatherings, however, will be capped at 25 people.

The new restrictions come after New Zealand reported nine new cases in the Nelson/Marlborough region, all of which were the omicron variant.

The cases were among a family that flew to Auckland on Jan. 13 for a wedding and other events. The country said early estimates believe that at least 100 people were at the gatherings.

A flight attendant on the plane from Auckland to Nelson with the infected family has since tested positive for COVID-19. The country said that flight attendant went on to work four flights while infected, with departures between Jan. 16 and Jan. 20

Additionally, a guest at the family event has since tested positive.

“Whole genome sequencing is urgently being carried out but we are treating this as the Omicron variant,” the government said in a statement.

New Zealand largely tamed the spread of the delta variant, with roughly 30 new cases reported per day, according to The Associated Press. Daily cases, however, started to rise in October, according to data compiled by the World Health Organization.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern emphasized on Thursday that the country would not impose strict lockdowns to stop the spread of the omicron variant.

She did, however, reveal on Sunday that she had canceled her wedding, according to Reuters

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