The government has established a three-stage roadmap that gradually eases Covid-19 restrictions in Auckland.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government will take a careful and methodical approach to the changes.
Starting at midnight tomorrow, Tāmaki Makaurau will remain at alert level 3, but Auckland residents will be able to connect with people outside their open-air bubble, with no more than two households and 10 people mingling at once.
Early childhood education will return to normal and people will be able to move around Auckland for fun, such as visiting the beach or hunting.
In the second stage, retail stores can open with face masks and social distancing, public facilities such as swimming pools and zoos will be opened, and the number of people who can gather outdoors will increase to 25.
The hospitality spaces will open in the third stage, with remote seating with a maximum capacity of 50 people.
Public health councils at this stage also indicate that schools will be able to return after school holidays on October 18, with a final decision to be made closer to time, the prime minister said.
Ardern says being outdoors and the ventilation it provides make all the difference. “Don’t be tempted for a moment to suddenly change, if the weather turns bad, to be home.”
Chief Health Officer Dr. Ashley Bloomfield says a lot of work has gone into evaluating the step-by-step process.
“I think this is the important characteristic of the next four to eight weeks, to be methodical and progressive and to do it safely. As our vaccination rate increases, that helps and is already helping.”
He says public health officials also carefully looked at things at each step that would not increase the risk much, and it is on the basis of reviewing the status each week that the decision was made.
“The cabinet will review each step weekly to make sure it is safe to move before confirming the next step. The wage subsidy will continue to be available,” Ardern said.
In total, this phase amounts to a careful and methodical transition plan for Auckland. At the end of these steps, we will move to a national framework that reflects a more vaccinated population, allowing us the ability to deal with riskier environments such as large-scale events with the use of vaccine certificates. “
He said that today the country has reached the milestone of 2 million New Zealanders vaccinated.
“It follows the doubling of Auckland’s vaccination rates over the past seven weeks, with 84 percent of Auckland residents receiving a dose and 52 percent now fully vaccinated. But there is more work to be done.
“Vaccines were always going to change the way we manage Covid-19 in the future, but our strategy has worked and will continue to be: we want to control the virus, avoid cases and hospitalizations, enjoy our freedoms, and reconnect with the world.” .