Jacinda Ardern announces Road Map as community cases continue to occur
Auckland will remain in the current Alert Level (3) for at least three more weeks but restrictions will be eased on a weekly basis, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has said.
She announced a three-phase Road Map for the country’s biggest city with the total number of cases in the community hitting 1357 since the current wave began on August 17, 2021.
Almost all cases reported thus far have been in Auckland, although 1065 of these have recovered.
In setting out the government’s three-phase plan, Ms Ardern said that 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, the Cabinet confirmed its plan to transition Auckland out of current restrictions carefully and methodically, with regular check-ins to ensure we are continuing to actively control the virus,” she said.
Cases by Numbers
According to the Health Ministry, the number of new community cases reported today was 29, of which 28 were in Auckland and one in Waikato. Of the 28 cases, 21 were epidemiologically linked. There are 19 infectious cases in the community out of yesterday’s 33 cases shown as exposure events. The total number of epidemiologically linked cases is 1314 (in the current cluster) (21 unlinked from the past fortnight).
Number of sub-clusters: 15 epidemiologically linked subclusters. Of these, seven are active, one is contained and seven are dormant. There are 14 epidemiologically unlinked subclusters. Of these, five are active, one is contained and eight are dormant.
There are 30 persons admitted to hospitals in Auckland and Hamilton.
The total number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began on February 28, 2020 is 4025. The total number of historical cases since Jan 1, 2021 is 163 out of 2208 as of that date.
The Road Map Stages
In announcing the Road Map for Auckland, Ms Ardern said that each stage will be reviewed every Monday, with the proviso that the City could go back to Alert Level 4 if the virus gets beyond control. Vaccination is therefore the key to freedom.
Wage Subsidies will continue to be available to eligible employers.
She said that from 11.59 pm tomorrow (Tuesday), people in Auckland will be able to connect with their loved ones outside their homes 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,” she said.
At step two, retail outlets can 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 outside their homes 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.
“Public health advice also sets out that schools at this stage will be able to return after school holidays on October 18, 2021, with the final decision to be made 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,” Ms Ardern said.
She said that the Cabinet agreed that 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 two million New Zealanders vaccinated. It follows the doubling of Auckland vaccination rates over the past seven weeks, with 84% of Aucklanders having had one dose, and 52% 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,” Ms Ardern said.