Auckland restrictions eased in steps
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has today set out a roadmap for Auckland to carefully move out of current Covid-19 restrictions.
Alert Level 3 and 4 restrictions in Auckland have helped control the Delta outbreak over the past seven weeks while New Zealanders ramped up their vaccination rates.
“Today, based on public health advice, Cabinet confirmed its plan to transition Auckland out of current restrictions carefully and methodically, with regular check-ins to ensure we’re continuing to actively control the virus,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“From 11:59pm Tuesday, Auckland will remain in Alert Level 3 but several key changes will occur. People will be able to connect with loved ones OUTDOORS with no more than two households at a time, up to a maximum of 10 people; early childhood education will return for all; and people can move around Auckland for recreation such as beach visits and hunting.
“At step two retail will open their doors, with the usual measures of wearing facemasks and keeping up physical distancing; public facilities such as pools and zoos will open; and the number of people who can meet OUTDOORS will increase to 25.
“Step three will bring back those higher risk settings. Hospitality will open – seated, separated and with a limit of 50; close contact businesses like hairdressers will also open with mask use and physical distancing; and gatherings will also then extend to 50.
“Cabinet will review each step weekly to ensure it’s safe to move before confirming the next step. The wage subsidy will continue to be available.
“Public health advice also sets out that schools at this stage will be able to return after school holidays on the 18th of October with the final decision to be made on that closer to the time.
“In total, this phasing amounts to a careful and methodical transition plan for Auckland. At the end of these steps, we will then move to a national framework that reflects a more highly vaccinated population, allowing us the ability to deal with riskier settings such as large-scale events with the use of vaccine certificates.
“Cabinet also agreed the rest of New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 2 to continue to support Auckland to do the heavy lifting – but the 100 limit cap on hospitality venues is removed. The requirement for customers to be seated and separated with physical distancing remains in place.
“Today we hit the milestone of 2 million New Zealanders vaccinated. It follows the doubling of Auckland vaccination rates over the past 7 weeks, with 84 percent of Aucklanders having had one dose, and 52 per cent now fully vaccinated. But there is more work to do.
“Vaccines were always going to change the way we manage Covid-19 into the future, but our strategy has worked and will remain – we want to control the virus, avoid cases and hospitalisations, enjoy our freedoms, and reconnect with the world,” Jacinda Ardern said.