Starting Thursday, New Zealanders will be legally required to wear masks on public transport in Auckland and on planes nationwide. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Virus Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced the new rules on Monday after meeting with senior lawmakers.

The country has been largely successful in eliminating the virus but has experienced several small outbreaks in Auckland, the latest one after a military worker at a hotel where travelers returning from abroad are being quarantined got infected.

Ardern said the new rules were precautionary.

“New Zealand remains in a unique position globally. We have economic and personal freedoms that few other countries enjoy,” she said.

“But these freedoms are under increased threat as COVID surges in the world around us.” The rules don’t apply to children under age 12 or passengers taking taxis or

Ubers, although their drivers will be required to wear masks.

(Source: PTI)