Rotorua is back at Alert Level 3. Video / Ben Fraser
* Aucklanders able to shop online at level 3 from businesses south of the city
* What can you do under level 3? Here are the rules as NZ splits
* I got Covid at an Auckland mall. Here’s what’s happened since
* Richard Prebble: It was a spurious excuse to close Parliament – now MPs need to ask the hard Covid questions
* Ask us anything on Covid: The vaccination edition
Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield has this morning outlined what would be needed for Auckland to move down alert levels.
Bloomfield says while the number of Covid cases will “bounce” around a bit, he does think New Zealand hit the peak a few days ago.
As long as cases kept coming down, were infections they would expect, and there were no infectious cases in the community then it would be possible for Auckland to move to level three, he told the AM Show.
There were now three MIQ facilities for Covid positive patients and some close contacts – Novotel Ellerslie, Jet Park and the Holiday Inn, he said.
There were four Covid patients isolating at home because of special healthcare needs.
Bloomfield told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB new cases were coming through yesterday and overnight but he would reveal all at 1pm.
He said numbers did bounce a bit last April so “it could be a bit higher again today”.
But the key thing was we had hit a peak and it did seem that during the past couple of days none of the new cases had been out in the community.
The proportion of cases in the community had gone from 35 per cent to 23 per cent.
Alert level 4 was working, he said, saying “it’s tough”.
He had plenty of friends and family in Auckland and “we’ve just got to hold our nerve, Auckland … it is making a difference.”
LISTEN LIVE TO NEWSTALK ZB
8.05am: MPs Stuart Nash and Mark Mitchell
As for elimination, Bloomfield told Hosking that while NZ was different there had been states in Australia that had got around cases of Delta in the community.
NZ had Victoria-type numbers but we were on the way down.
Taiwan had also got around the Delta outbreak and got down to zero.
There was plenty of Pfizer vaccine in NZ.
“We have set up a really good system here in New Zealand to use a Pfizer-based system.”
Anyone aged over 12 was now able to be booked.
Bloomfield said we had “irons in the fire here” about more vaccines coming but it wouldn’t be announced for a couple of days, he said.
STORY CONTINUES AFTER LIVE BLOG
Bloomfield told the AM Show he didn’t have a particular view about politicians travelling to Wellington during levels. His role was to advise what measures should be in place if parliament was to sit again – such as masks and physical distancing.
Bloomfield said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s theories – that she came up with while lying awake at night and thinking about how Covid had got back into the community – were usually just good ideas and what they needed to do to find out what had happened.
In terms of case numbers, Bloomfield told Breakfast there would be no new data provided until after the 9am cut off.
He was “heartened” by the last couple of days’ results.
He said it showed the numbers were coming down but “people shouldn’t worry if it does go up again”.
It was likely we would see bounces – as day 12 testing results came up more household contacts would return positive.
He believes all new cases will be the ones the government was expecting.
“The key thing is we’ve done two weeks of hard work … we’ve just got to hold our nerve here.”
He reminded the country south of Auckland that level 3 did not mean getting out and about.
It was still a “stay home” message and people should only go out for essentials.
“All of us should be doing everything we can to stop this outbreak,” he said.
“Everyone needs to keep doing their bit – no one is bulletproof in this infection,” he said.
“This is not just a flu, this is far worse.”
Cars were queuing back to the street at the McDonald’s drive-thru on Rotorua’s Fenton St by 6am – while in Wellington, one McDonald’s outlet had closed off its drive-thru to prevent any pre-opening queues.
Newstalk ZB reporter Jack Crossland went on an early “Maccas run” in Wellington.
“The road cones have been removed and already the cars are lining up Already, more than ten cars are sitting in the drive-through, waiting for their morning run of McDonald’s,” he said about 6.30am.
Domino’s NZ general manager Cameron Toomey said the pizza-delivery company was “definitely expecting a busy day ahead” – both for deliveries and people coming into stores in level-3 areas.
“We have zero-contact delivery available, and we do have direct contact pickup available as well,” he told Newstalk ZB’s Kate Hawkesby.
“But we’ll be making sure that we’ve got some procedures set up at the stores to ensure everybody can safely distance as well. We’ve been here before – we’ve taken a lot of learnings from last year and, and the various other movements in levels before, and from around the world as well. We just make sure we’ve got the right amount of people rostered on and we’ve got our procedures in place that allow us to meet the demand.”
And KFC is appealing to customers to be patient when the stampede starts for takeaways, Newstalk ZB reports.
Contactless and drive-thru sales are operating again at most KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl’s Junior and Taco Bell stores south of Auckland under level three.
A Restaurant Brands spokeswoman says customers are being asked to treat staff kindly while they wait for their orders. She says staff have stepped up cleaning and sanitising and will be wearing masks and gloves at all times.
KFC’s menu is being reduced so social distancing rules can be maintained in kitchens.
There is already plenty of activity at the border between level four and level three in North Waikato. There are five police checkpoints that have been set up, and already hundreds of motorists have come through this morning.
At 7.20am, traffic was moving smoothly on State Highway 1 after the opening of checkpoints on the border of the Auckland region. The lines to get through for both freight and non-freught vehicles are both moving through the checkpoints smoothly and quickly.
One lane is designated for freight trucks heading south. The other for vans, passenger cars and motorbikes.
Numerous police officers are checking that drivers have essential traffic letters before letting motorists through.
As regions south of Auckland wake up in alert level 3, staff from more than 2500 businesses are prepared to cross alert level borders under strict travel rules.
Areas south of Auckland moved to alert level 3 at 11.59pm Tuesday, while Auckland and Northland remain at alert level 4.
As of 9.30am yesterday, 2524 businesses had been issued with Business Travel Documentation for movement across level 3 and 4 borders.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said checkpoints were in place south of Auckland to stop motorists and to ensure their travel was essential.
He told Newstalk ZB it had been a smooth night at the checkpoints.
Police had been through the experience before so were well practised and had lanes for trucks.
There were about 200 police involved at the southern border.
“Anyone attempting to travel across the regional boundaries separating alert level 4 and alert level 3 areas, should expect to be stopped and asked for proof of essential travel,” he said.
Police want people to wear masks when they come to border checkpoints.
Police Superintendent Shanan Gray says officers will wear masks and gloves.
As for tickets and whether police were more lax, Coster said police had taken a tougher stance because of Delta, but compliance wasn’t any less than last time.
The change in alert levels came after 49 new cases, all in Auckland, were reported on Tuesday – the lowest total in six days. There are now 612 cases in the outbreak – 597 of them in Auckland with the other 15 in Wellington and believed to be contained.
Six babies under the age of one have caught Covid-19 in the Delta outbreak, director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said. He said that news was “sobering”, although none of the babies were in hospital.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the six cases reiterated the importance of widespread vaccination. Despite the relatively low overall number yesterday, it was too early, she said, to know if daily case numbers had plateaued.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is handling business and personal travel exemptions for the current lockdowns.
MBIE business and consumer general manager Ross van der Schyff said businesses and motorists who needed to cross the alert level boundaries could apply for travel documents if they met the criteria.
Authorities have asked businesses to have systems and processes in place to minimise travel across the boundaries, but six types of travel are accepted including commuting workers, delivery services and relocation travel.
Police have set up five different checkpoints around the Auckland region.
Those checkpoints are at SH1/Mercer offramp for southbound traffic, SH1/Oram Rd for northbound traffic, Mangatawhiri Rd/SH2, East Coast Rd – Waharau Regional Park, and SH22/Pukekawa-Churchill Rd and Logan Rd.
Although Northland remains at alert level 4, Police continue to operate three checkpoints in the region. However once the region moves to alert level 3 police will operate five different checkpoints in the region.
The current police checkpoints in the region are at the SH1/SH12 intersection, Mountain Rd, Kaiwaka and Cove Rd, by Bream Tail Rd.
Once the region moves down an alert level checkpoints will be set up at, SH1/Mangawhai Rd (Twin Coast Discovery Highway), Mangawhai Rd north of Coal Hill Rd, Black Swamp, west of Rako Rd Mangawhai Rd and Cames Rd, Mangawhai Rd and Ryan Rd.
While the majority of the country will move down an alert level, Coster is asking the public to continue to limit movement.
“Police will be continuing to stop people at random across the rest of the country to ensure movement is for essential purposes only,” he said.
However he has warned motorists to expect delays.
“We are anticipating that there may be delays during peak times at these boundary checkpoints, and we are asking our community be prepared for this and to be patient,” Coster said.
There is some bitterness over why the South Island can’t be at level two today, says Newstalk ZB.
Christchurch’s Riverside Market developer Mike Percasky says some businesses will only do about 20 percent of their regular trade in level three.
Percasky says he has no idea why the South Island couldn’t move down further.
Collins on Parliament resuming
National leader Judith Collins told the AM Show this morning the Prime Minister had the option to suspend parliament for another week and didn’t want to.
Collins said the parliamentary creche was even open yesterday and the one child due to go in didn’t, so the staff had nothing to do. She said creches were allowed to open as long as there was no singing or mat time.
Collins said the government had known about the situation for 18 months and then “suddenly” wanted to do a zoom meeting with no planning or practice.
Collins said she didn’t lie awake at night and that was due to experience.
“If you are worried about something – deal with it or accept that you can’t change it.”
She said the Delta variant had got in through the MIQ system from the border because the country was largely unvaccinated.
Level 3 rules – what you need to know
The last time New Zealand was in alert level 3 was more than a year ago. With the loosening of restrictions now in place, do you know what the shift will mean?
The changes will not be drastic but the biggest ones revolve around the partial re-opening of stores and restaurants for contactless pick-up, delivery or drive-through.
Here are the rules:
You legally must wear a face covering:
• On public transport and at departure points, for example at airports, train stations and bus stops
• On domestic flights
• In taxi or ride-share vehicles — drivers and passengers
• When visiting healthcare facilities
• If you are a delivery driver to residential addresses
• Inside any alert level 3 businesses and services that are open and involve customer contact, for example supermarkets, pharmacies and takeaways
• At court and tribunals, Government agencies and social service providers with customer service counters.
You’re strongly encouraged to wear a face covering when you are outside your home and in a place where it is hard to keep your distance from other people.
Travel and personal movement
You legally must stay within your household bubble whenever you are not at work or school. You can expand this to:
• Connect with close family and whānau
• Bring in caregivers, or support isolated people
The Government advises you should only include people in your bubble where it will keep you and them safe and healthy. If anyone within your bubble feels unwell, they must immediately self-isolate from everyone else within the bubble.
You can travel locally but regional travel restricted
You can travel within your local area, for example going to work or school, shopping, or getting exercise.
Your local area means the area near your home that you regularly visit for essential services. What is considered local will differ depending on where you live. City dwellers may have a supermarket or dairy close by. If you live rurally, you may need to take a drive to reach these.
If there is an alert level 3 boundary, the Government will publish information on the Covid-19 website about which travel is permitted.
Exercise, sport and recreation
The Government is warning alert level 3 is not the time to take up new activities. You can do low-risk recreation activities in your local area.
Go to your local park or beach, not your favourite one. You cannot stay overnight at your bach or holiday home.
If you are experienced you can do more activities under level 3. These include:
• Surfing — if you are an experienced surfer, you can go to your local break
• Tramping — day walks on easy trails are allowed. Remember to keep your distance from other people. DOC huts and campsites are closed
• Mountain biking — allowed on easy trails if you are experienced and know the trail.
• Swimming — in safe local spots
• Horse riding — if you are an experienced rider and it is low risk. Stay as close to home as you can
Stay within 200 metres from shore if you are kayaking, canoeing, rowing, surfing, wind surfing or paddle boarding.
Keep your distance when outside your home:
• Two metres in public and retail stores, like supermarkets
• One metre in controlled environments, like workplaces and schools.
Public transport can continue to operate with strict health and safety requirements.
Gatherings and events
Gatherings of up to 10 people can go ahead, but only for:
• Wedding and civil union ceremonies
• Funerals and tangihanga
Physical distancing and public health measures legally must be maintained.
Takeaways and shopping
Cafes, restaurants and takeaways can open but only for contactless pick-up, delivery or drive through. You cannot go in to dine.
Food delivery services, such as Delivereasy and Uber Eats, can also operate.
McDonald’s has said it will revert to Drive-Thru and McDelivery only and any restaurant located in a mall will be closed in line with level 3 mall closures. Stores such as Mitre 10, The Warehouse and Bunnings will remain closed but many can still offer contactless click and collect or delivery.
Public venues legally must close at alert level 3. This includes libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds and markets.
Workplaces and businesses
If your business requires close physical contact it cannot operate and it is recommended staff work from home if they can.
Businesses need to display a QR code and have an alternative contact tracing system. Customers cannot come on to the premises — unless it is a supermarket, dairy, butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer, petrol station, pharmacy or permitted health service.
The business must be contactless. Customers can pay online, over the phone or in a contactless way. Delivery or pick-up must also be contactless.
Staff must remain a minimum of 1 metre apart at all times where practical. Other measures, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) including face coverings, are recommended to be used where appropriate.
Children and young people should learn from home at alert level 3. Any child who does not have supervision at home from an appropriate person can attend their service or school.
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