Auckland to move to Alert Level 3, part of Waikato under Section 70

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Stringent rules; Level 2 gatherings increased to 100

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Wellington, September 20, 2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that the Cabinet has decided to move Auckland to Alert Level 3 from 11.59 pm on Tuesday (September 21, 2021) night with a review on October 4, 2021.

The rest of the country will remain at Level 2 but the number of people allowed at meetings and events will increase 100 (from 50) from 11.59 pm tomorrow.

What Level 3 means now

Ms Ardern said that people may be able to make minor changes to their bubbles such as bringing in an elderly relative who is not part of another bubble.

“But no one should visit friends or break bubbles. Once in a household, everyone is at the risk of getting Delta. Therefore, if you break your bubble, you should be aware that the consequence may be spreading Covid back into your house to your loved ones,”  she said.

Most school will remain closed. The Cabinet has determined that masks will be mandatory at all High Schools at Alert Level 3. People attending an essential service must also wear a mask, and people are encouraged to do so whenever they leave their home.

Section 70 in place

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said that he will invoke Section 70 of the Public Health Act on a part of Northern Waikato, requiring people who live or work there to stay at home.

Ms Ardern told a media conference that moving Auckland to Alert Level 3 was indicative of the government’s cautious approach.

“It means staying in your bubble, contactless transactions and keeping your distance. It means we say, ‘Thank You to Aucklanders’ for their tireless work, and that we collectively keep going,” she said.

Case Numbers and locations

The Health Ministry reported 22 new cases today, a majority of which are household or known contact. Five of them are linked, and three of those are within a family with a tentative link.

Ms Ardern said that three of the new cases are in Whakatiwai but are being counted in the Auckland total. Testing has thus far included household contacts, corrections staff, police staff, court staff, and 300 swabs have already been taken in the small community.

“We want to make sure that we are keeping the community safe,” she said.

Dr Bloomfield said that the Section 70 Order was for people living in an area north of SH2 centred on Mangatangi.

“That will effectively extend the road boundary to the east of Maramarua and also to the southeast of Miranda on the Firth of Thames,” he said.

No widespread transmission

Ms Ardern said that Level 4 has been tough but it also made a difference.

Almost all cases of the last 14 days have either been household or known contacts, and wastewater testing suggests that there is no significant undetected transmission.

“There has not been widespread clusters around workplaces, and of the cases where a link has been established. None of these has resulted from people accessing essential services. Protections are still in place in Level 3,” she said.

Ms Ardern asked all New Zealanders to play their part and said that it would be possible to stamp out Covid-19 from the country.

Dr Bloomfield said that the Health Ministry is confident that there is not widespread undetected transmission.

“The difference with Level 3 this time is that it comes with high and increasing levels of vaccination,” he said.

Vaccination for seniors

Ms Ardern said that Aucklanders aged over 65 and not vaccinated should stay at home

“We have been doing direct outreach to all our over-65s who have not had their first dose yet in Auckland. That amounts to about 23,000 people. Last week, a letter was sent to people whose details were available. Today, we are commencing an outbound call campaign, accounting for about 8000 calls a day. People with a future booking can bring it forward and pharmacies and supermarkets are offering delivery services,” she said.

According to Dr Bloomfield, Auckland can get to 90% of eligible people vaccinated by early October as modelling has indicated.

Testing at boundaries

He said that people crossing boundaries for personal reasons will henceforth be required to be tested. The health Ministry is hoping to publish how many cases is expected each day, based on the size of the families involved and the conversion rate.

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