Bbc.com New Zealand
Nasa: Doug Loverro steps down days before crewed launch - BBC News
Doug Loverro steps down the week before the US's first crewed launch in almost a decade.
Image copyrightNASAImage caption Mr Loverro had been in the job for less than a year The head of Nasa's human spaceflight programme has stepped down just days before a "historic" launch. Doug Loverro resigned on Monday, Nasa announced, less than a year after his appointment. Next week, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will travel to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch, which involves a rocket and spacecraft made by private firm SpaceX, will be the first crewed mission to depart from US soil in almost a decade. Image copyrightEPAImage caption Astronauts Bob Behnken (L) and Doug Hurley will take part in a mission launching on 27 May No official reason for Mr Loverro's departure has been announced, but a leaked copy of an email sent to Nasa employees mentioned a risk taken earlier in the year "because I judged it necessary to fulfil our mission". "Now, over the balance of time, it is clear that I made a mistake in that choice for which I alone must bear the consequences," the message continued. While Mr Loverro offered no further explanation, he told the Axios news website that his decision to leave the agency was unrelated to the upcoming launch. "I have 100% faith in the success of that mission," he said. Mr Loverro was appointed in October last year. His deputy, Ken Bowersox, will become the acting head of human spaceflight. Media captionWatch the critical moments from the SpaceX test Next week's launch, which is set for 27 May, will mark the first time that Nasa has launched a shuttle carrying people from US soil since 2011. The rocket and spacecraft were both designed by SpaceX, the private company owned by billionaire Elon Musk. Nasa has been using Russian rockets for crewed flights since its space shuttle was retired in 2011. In 2017, US President Donald Trump ordered Nasa to plan a crewed mission to the Moon for the first time since 1972. The Artemis mission will see the first woman and the next man step on the lunar surface and is due to take place by 2024. You may also be interested in: Media captionHubbles 30th anniversary image turned into a 3D spaceflight experience.
Coronavirus: New Zealand reopens with midnight barbers queues - BBC News
Shops, cafes and parks reopen for New Zealanders - and some keen customers can't wait until morning.
Image copyrightAFP/Getty ImagesImage caption This barber in Christchurch welcomed back customers just after midnight Thousands of businesses in New Zealand have reopened on Thursday as the country relaxes its coronavirus curbs, with some hairdressers seeing overnight queues round the block. Shops, cafes, and public parks are all open as the country moves into Level 2 of its restrictions, described as a "safer new normal". New Zealand has reported no new cases of the virus in the past three days. Authorities say the chance of community transmission is now very low. People are allowed to start seeing their friends and families again, with a limit of 10 people. Professional sport is back on the menu - albeit with safety measures in place. And for those keen to let off steam after a long lockdown, gyms have reopened too. There have been reports of crowds at shopping centres in some parts of the country, but for some a quiet catch-up on the waterfront was the first thing on their minds. Image copyright AFP/Getty ImagesImage caption The waterfront in Wellington was a peaceful catch-up spot for this pair Image copyrightAFP/Getty ImagesImage caption The wait is over for anyone who's missed the gym Image copyrightAFPImage caption Hiding something, lads? Hoodies were a popular choice in this queue for haircuts in Wellington Image copyrightAFP/Getty ImagesImage caption Parks and playgrounds are open again - to the joy of this young visitor Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Some more unusual businesses have also reopened - like Frank and Anya Walkington's alpaca farm tours in Akaroa New Zealand has seen 1,497 confirmed cases of Covid-19 out of a population of around five million people, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. Twenty-one people have died, and fewer than 90 are still sick. The country had already eased some restrictions in late April, allowing takeaway food shops and some non-essential business to re-open. Though offices reopened on Thursday, people have been urged to continue working from home where possible, to help avoid a second wave of infections. To the relief of many parents, school pupils will be able to return from Monday. Bars are closed for now, but will be back in business from 21 May. Image copyrightAFP/Getty ImagesImage caption Offices are open, but people have been asked to keep working from home where possible Image copyrightAFP/Getty ImagesImage caption New Zealand's bars won't reopen until 21 May. It's a decision partly prompted by South Korea, which has seen a spike in virus cases linked to nightclubs Image copyrightAFP/Getty ImagesImage caption Posters are reminding everyone to keep up social distancing while they shop Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been widely praised for taking swift action early on in the global pandemic. "We're going hard and we're going early," Ms Ardern told the public in mid-March. "We only have 102 cases, but so did Italy once." Beaches, waterfronts and playgrounds were shut on 26 March, as were offices and schools. Bars and restaurants were also closed, including for takeaway and delivery. Imposing some of the world's toughest restrictions on travel and activity helped stop cases arriving in New Zealand from overseas. But it also struck a heavy blow to the country's tourism-dependent economy. Ms Ardern has described economic conditions as the worst since the Great Depression in the 1930s. As part of a budget on Thursday, the government announced a NZ$50 billion (£24bn; US$30) Covid-19 recovery fund to help cushion the country's losses in the months to come. Media captionFamilies and friends reunite as NZ moves to Level 2 All pictures subject to copyright
Coronavirus: How New Zealand got its coffees and fries back - BBC News
A strict and early lockdown has meant New Zealanders are back at cafes sooner than other countries.
Image copyrightChristopher BishopImage caption Local MP Christopher Bishop scored himself a McDonald's treat Coffee and fast food seemed to be the first thing on the mind of New Zealanders as the country emerged from almost five weeks of strict lockdown. The alert level has shifted to level three, allowing takeaway food shops and some non-essential business to re-open. And it wasn't long before queues formed in front of coffee shops and McDonald's outlets as people rushed out. "That cup of coffee tasted amazing and I felt a sense of normality come back into my life," said one coffee lover. "Nothing beats a skilled barista making you coffee," Victoria Howe, who is based in Auckland, told the BBC. Image copyrightVictoria HoweImage caption Victoria Howe said her coffee tasted "amazing" Dr Samantha Keene, a New Zealander based in Wellington agreed, saying "the ability to get a coffee and a scone made by someone else after weeks of doing it myself was a real treat". Image copyrightSamantha KeeneImage caption And Samantha Keene called hers "a real treat" But it was the re-opening of McDonald's that got people most excited - with local media speaking to one Auckland resident who said he arrived at 04:00. Pictures online showed queues of cars and people posing with their fast food loot. "It's just great to have a wee treat at the end of a pretty tough period in lockdown," Christopher Bishop, a local MP, told the BBC, adding that his order was "a delicious Sausage and Egg McMuffin". 'Don't congregate at cafes' But though the curve appears to have flattened, New Zealand's top health expert warned against people congregating outside public spaces. "Like many people returning to work today, I have enjoyed a takeaway coffee. However it is important not to congregate outside the cafes, the carpark of takeaway places like McDonald's. We do not want to see the sort of rebound we have seen in other countries," said Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Under the level three alert - a notch below its highest alert level - people have still been told to stay at home and work at home if they can, but businesses are allowed to open if they can provide contactless service. Schools are also allowed to re-open but will have to ensure social distancing rules are followed. Mass gatherings however, remain cancelled and public venues closed. New Zealand currently has 1,124 confirmed cases and 19 deaths out of a population of around five million people. Its new cases have stayed in the single digits for several days, leading the government to say that the virus was effectively eliminated. What did New Zealand do right? New Zealand's apparent success in containing the virus has been attributed to its early and sweeping actions. New Zealand brought in some of the toughest restrictions in the world on travel and activity on 19 March, early on in the global pandemic. That helped stop cases being brought in from overseas - 33% of New Zealand's cases were imported. As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the time: "We only have 102 cases, but so did Italy once." "If you look at neighbouring Australia, two-thirds of its cases came from overseas," Prof Sanjaya Senanayake of the Australian National University told the BBC. "So it was really important to close the borders and it did that very effectively."
- It had a quick, clear lockdown
- It told people to pick a 'bubble'
Coronavirus lockdown: NZ to ease restrictions after 'stopping explosion' - BBC News
The country, which has relatively few cases, has been praised for its quick and strict response.
Image copyrightAFP / Getty New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern has thanked people for "stopping an uncontrolled explosion of Covid-19", as she announced an easing of lockdown. The country has been praised for its quick and strict response to the virus, and will move from "Level 4" lockdown to "Level 3" late next Monday. It means some businesses can reopen, along with some schools, while rules on local travel will be relaxed. "We have done what very few countries have been able to do," Ms Ardern said. What is changing in New Zealand? The country introduced a state of national emergency on 25 March, and went to "Level 4" later that day. That was four days before the first virus-related death in the country was confirmed. The Level 4 lockdown meant people had to stay at home, except for "essential personal movement". Exercise was allowed locally, but travel was "severely limited". Businesses closed - except for essential services - as did schools and public venues. All gatherings were cancelled. Media captionPrime Minister Jacinda Ardern announcing the lockdown in March Level 3 allows some of those restrictions to be relaxed. Schools can open with "limited capacity", and businesses can open but not "physically interact with customers". Gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed but only for weddings, funerals and tangihanga (Maori funeral rites). Level 3 will last for at least two weeks, with a new decision on 11 May. Separately, New Zealand closed its borders to almost all foreign travellers on 19 March - but that policy remains unchanged. What did Jacinda Ardern say? "We believe that decisive action, going hard and going early, gave us the very best chance of stamping out the virus. And it has," she said. "We have done what very few countries have been able to do - we have stopped a wave of devastation." Ms Ardern said the transmission rate - the number of cases each person with the virus passes it onto - is now less than half a person each. When the transmission rate is below one, cases will decline and eventually die out. "You, all of you, have stopped the uncontrolled explosion of Covid-19 in New Zealand," she said. "I couldn't feel prouder of the start that we have made together." What is the Covid-19 situation in New Zealand? New Zealand, which has a population of five million, has had 1,440 confirmed cases and 12 deaths. Just nine new cases were announced on Monday. Seven of the deaths are linked to a care home in Christcurch.