Covid 19 coronavirus delta outbreak: South Island holds its breath as lockdown decision looms

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The big question that looms today is whether the South Island will once again escape the grip of the Covid-19 Delta epidemic, paving the way for a possible change to alert level 3. Photo / Hamish clark

The big question looming today is whether the South Island will once again escape the clutches of the Covid-19 Delta epidemic, paving the way for a possible move to alert level 3.

There have been no cases in the south despite the Auckland epidemic reaching 72 to 66 in Auckland and six in Wellington.

A decision will be made in Cabinet and announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at 4 p.m. on whether the Alert Level 4 lockdown will be extended beyond midnight on Tuesday. The big question is that the South Island has no community cases, if it will go to Alert Level 3 and when?

Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall told Mike Hosking of Newstalk ZB that officials did not know where each exposed person was going in New Zealand when the lockdown was announced and that was the risk when changing alert levels by region.

Covid

Hopes that parts of the country could emerge from a full lockdown early is up in the air with Verrall saying “tens of thousands” of Aucklanders left the area when the lockdown was announced, and that’s a risk.

What would Alert Level 3 look like?

Face cover

You must legally wear a face cover:

• In public transports.
• On domestic flights.
• If you are a taxi or carpooling driver.

You are strongly encouraged to wear a face cover when you are outside your home and in an area where it is difficult to keep your distance from others.

Travel and personal travel

You must legally stay in your family bubble when you are not at work or at school. You can extend it to:

• Connect with close family and whānau.
• Bring in caregivers or support isolated people.

Only include people in your bubble where it will keep you and them safe and healthy. If someone in your bubble is not feeling well, they should immediately isolate themselves from everyone else in the bubble.

You can travel locally

You can move around in your area, for example to go to work or school, to shop or to exercise.

Your local area means the area near your home that you regularly visit for essential services. What is considered local will be different depending on where you live. City dwellers may have a supermarket or dairy nearby. If you live in a rural area, you may need to take a car to get there.

Physical distancing

Keep your distance away from home:

• Two meters in public and retail stores, such as supermarkets
• A meter in controlled environments, such as workplaces and schools.

Public transport can continue to operate with strict health and safety requirements.

Travel between regions is severely restricted

If there is an alert level 3 limit, the Government will publish information on Covid-19 website whose movements are authorized.

Meetings and Events

Gatherings of up to 10 people can take place, but only for:

• Marriage and civil union ceremonies.
• Funeral and tangihanga.

Physical distancing and public health measures must be legally maintained.

Takeaway and shopping

Cafes, restaurants and takeaways can open, but only for contactless pickup, delivery or drive. You can’t come in for dinner.

Food delivery services, such as Delivereasy and Uber Eats, may also work.

McDonald’s has said it will return to Drive-Thru and McDelivery only and that any restaurant located in a mall will be closed in accordance with Level 3 mall closures.

Stores such as Miter 10, The Warehouse and Bunnings will remain closed but many may still offer click and collect or contactless delivery.

Public places

Public places must legally close at alert level 3.

This includes libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gymnasiums, swimming pools, playgrounds and markets.

Exercise, sport and recreation

The government warns that alert level 3 is not the time to resume new activities. You can do low-risk recreational activities in your area.

Go to your local park or beach, not your favorite. You cannot spend the night in your bach or your vacation home.

If you are experienced, you can do more activities. These include:

• Surfing – if you are an experienced surfer you can go to your local break.
• Tramping – day walks on easy trails are permitted. Remember to keep your distance from others. DOC shelters and campsites are closed.
• Mountain biking – allowed on easy trails if you are experienced and know the trail.
• Swimming – in safe local places.
• Horseback riding – if you are an experienced rider and the risk is low. Stay as close to home as possible.

Stay within 200 yards of shore if you are kayaking, canoeing, rowing, surfing, windsurfing, or paddle boarding.

Workplaces and companies

• If your business requires close physical contact, it cannot function.
• It is recommended that staff work from home if they can.
• Businesses must display a QR code and have an alternative contact tracing system.
• Customers cannot enter the premises – unless it is a supermarket, dairy, butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer, station- service, pharmacy or authorized health service.
• The company must be contactless. Customers can pay online, by phone or contactless. Delivery or collection must also be contactless.
• Basic hygiene measures must be maintained. Physical distancing, hand washing and regular cleaning of surfaces. Workers are legally required to stay home if they are sick.
• Staff should stay at least 1 meter apart at all times when possible. It is recommended that other measures be used, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), including face covers, if applicable.
• The company must legally comply with all other health and safety obligations.

Education

Children and youth should learn from home at Alert Level 3.

Any child who is not supervised at home by an appropriate person can attend their service or school.

The Mount Hutt ski area had nearly a meter of snow in the low end and up to two and a half meters at the summit on Monday.  Photo / Supplied
The Mount Hutt ski area had nearly a meter of snow in the low end and up to two and a half meters at the summit on Monday. Photo / Supplied

Mount Hutt Ski Area Manager James Mackenzie said he hopes the South Island will be seen as its own bubble so alert levels can be lifted there.

“We had a good start to the season. We can’t wait to get out of this level 4.

“We hope we can get away with a gradual return to operations at Mount Hutt, which can’t really happen until level 2, but at level 3 we can get things done, do a little maintenance.”

He said if alert levels don’t change they might consider extending their season.

“We now have a very solid base, almost a yard in the bass zone to two and a half at the top and if things stayed where they were we might consider pushing our season a bit longer.

“We’ve already planned to go through October 17th, but if there’s still an appetite for skiing beyond that, we’ll definitely look into that.”


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