Saturday, April 20, 2024

More freedoms for Aucklanders

From midnight tonight, several key changes will occur for Aucklanders as part of the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions.

While the city will remain in Alert Level 3, Jacinda Ardern said Auckland residents would be able to connect with loved ones in an outdoor setting with no more than two households at a time – with a maximum of 10 people.

Under the revised setting, early childhood education will return and Aucklanders will be able to hunt and visit beaches.

Ms Ardern said Alert Level 3 and 4 restrictions across Auckland had helped control the Delta outbreak over the past seven weeks.

“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,” Ms Ardern said.

She said the next step would see the reopening of retail – with face masks and physical distancing rules in place – and public facilities like pools and zoos, with the maximum outdoor gathering limit growing to 25.

The final step will address Auckland higher risk settings, she said.

“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.”

The Prime Minister said public health advice also sets out that schools will be able to return after school holidays on 18 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,” said the Prime Minister.

“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.”

She said that while passing the two million vaccination milestone was pleasing, there was more work to do.

“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.

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