In a few hours Aucklanders will find out whether or not the Government will go ahead with an in-principle decision to move the city further down the Covid alert level 3 restrictions.
The decision will be announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at 4pm. If confirmed, the country’s largest city will officially move into alert level 3 step 2 from 11.59pm on Tuesday.
The change would bring good news for retailers, asstores around the city would be allowed to open their doors again after 84 days of being in a strict lockdown – and just weeks away from the all-important Christmas shopping season.
Public facilities including libraries, museums and the zoo will also open – albeit with visitors having to wear masks and keeping two metres apart at all times.
The 10-people picnics will be expanded to allow for 25 people at outdoor gatherings and there will no longer be a restriction on the number of households represented in those gatherings.
The announcement comes after a weekend of high community cases recorded, however, with Saturday’s report totalling a record 206 new cases in the community – the highest figure documented in a single day since the pandemic started.
A total of 163 community cases were revealed on Friday, while yesterday’s figure saw a slight drop, with 113 people in the community confirmed as having Covid-19.
Despite those figures, they are as expected at this stage of the outbreak, experts say, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media this morning that their decisions would be more to do with vaccination rates.
“It’s not just about case numbers now when we have a highly vaccinated environment,” she told TVNZ’s Breakfast show.
Ardern’s comments came after the Counties Manukau District Health Board region reached an important milestone yesterday, when it was announced that the district had reached 90 per cent first dose coverage.
South Auckland community leaders, church groups and healthcare providers have been praised for the push to get many in the community – particularly Māori and Pasifika – vaccinated over the past few weeks.
People in the area are now being encouraged to get their second jab, with the second dose jab population sitting on 87 per cent at the moment.
People at West Auckland bootcamp told to stay home
A bootcamp class held in Henderson, West Auckland, last week has been identified as a location of interest linked to at least one person with Covid.
People who attended the Inspire45 Bootcamp class last Wednesday, November 3, are being told to stay home and get tested immediately.
The affected class was held between 6.30pm and 7.30pm.
The location of the class is listed as 7 Catherine St, Henderson, at the WestCity shopping mall; where the car park is popular with local boot camps.
Christmas plan for Aucklanders
In terms of letting Aucklanders through the border at Christmas, she said the logistical issue was how they would get 30,000 to 40,000 vehicles a day through the border.
“We’ve given the commitment, we know we need to enable people to move,” she told Three’s AM Show.
But exactly when that would happen was not yet known, with Ardern not giving a date – other than to say it would happen before Christmas day.
The logistical issues were something officials were still working to solve and she pointed out that New Zealand had never operated a land border before.
While it would not be a long-term solution, she said, it would be a major challenge.
Today’s announcement will also bring news for Upper Northland, which was put back into a strict alert level 3 lockdown after cases were found in the community last week – but could not be linked to anywhere or anyone else in the region.
It comes as three new cases in Northland were identified – one reported yesterday and two new community cases announced on Saturday.
Back to school – maybe not
On primary school children heading back to school, Ardern told Breakfast that more details would be released on Wednesday on whether or not primary schools in Auckland will be allowed to open again.
Epidemiologist Rod Jackson did not support primary schools reopening again this year because they could become super-spreader settings given younger children are not vaccinated.
“I wouldn’t open primary schools until next year, until we’ve got them vaccinated.”
Jackson said there were 1.3 million New Zealanders including children under 12 who are still unvaccinated. He also wanted to see the majority of 5 to 11-year-olds vaccinated.
Delta was so contagious, he said, everyone in New Zealand was either going to get vaccinated or get Covid.
He said while it was people’s choice not to get vaccinated, it meant if anyone else needed to go into hospital for anything else they wouldn’t get a bed.
Meanwhile, parts of Waikato will remain in alert level 3 step 2 until at least next week, when the Government is due to review that level of restriction on Monday.
Two new community cases were reported in Waikato on Saturday, while one was identified yesterday.
This map shows large vaccinations centres from the Unite again Covid-19 information page. For more detailed information about your neighbourhood visit Healthpoint.
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