Thursday, December 9

Waikato remains at level 3: ‘Everyone is fighting for a living’

People in parts of Waikato and King Country, along with Northland, are reluctantly agreeing that news alert level 3 will remain in place for another five days.

A quiet street in Hamilton on Monday as part of the Waikato region begins five days of alert level 3 following two community cases of Covid-19.

Hamilton at Alert Level 3
Photo: RNZ / Katie Todd

Hamilton, Raglan and Waipā, torohanga and Waitomo districts are within the blocking boundary.

Authorities say there are too many unknowns floating around in both regions, and more time at alert level 3 will give authorities more confidence that no covid is out in the community.

There were 55 new cases in the community today, including two from a single household in Waikato that have yet to be linked to previous cases.

Both regions had stricter restrictions imposed last week due to positive Covid-19 cases related to the Auckland Delta outbreak.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said he was briefed on the two cases in Waikato on Wednesday morning.

“Health believes the risk from these cases, a couple, is low and there will be few locations of interest. However, we must ensure that there is no undetected transmission before lowering alert levels. Genome sequencing is underway and hopefully it will shed new light in these cases. “

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate was naturally disappointed.

“I would have liked to see a move to level 2 so that our business can get up and running, but I am a pragmatist and accept that this virus moves so easily and spreads dramatically, so I understand the need to take a relatively cautious approach.”

Waikato Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Don Good said it was disastrous for anyone in the hospitality, events, tourism and retail industries.

“If you are in other parts of the economy, for example Dariy or similar, or technology, where you can work comfortably from home, then things are not too bad.

“But I think the yo-yo effect of changing dates all the time really affects everyone and that is very concerning.”

Karen Gartland owns Burger Bro in downtown Hamilton and said businesses were expecting level 2.

“I think it’s very disappointing for a lot of people because there is no business in Hamilton at the moment. Everyone is struggling to make a living. At lunchtime you can have one or two people.”

“This is really devastating for the hospitality industry and I really hope they make the right decision on Monday.”

Trek and Travel owner Colin Hancock was eager to downgrade, but understood the decision.

“We have cases in Waikato and we have to eliminate it, it is simple and I will be very happy when we can do it.”

“We are getting clients, so people are being quite positive.”

In Northland, no cases have been reported since two women traveled there from Auckland and tested positive for the virus. However, the authorities had been struggling with the location of contacts and the lack of places of interest, as one of the women refused to cooperate.

Minister Hipkins said getting tested for Covid-19, even if symptoms were mild, was the best Northlanders could do to ensure level 2 passage.

“It’s also great to see Northlanders go out and get vaccinated. There have been 19,691 vaccinations in the last seven days, more than double the previous week.

“It’s really important that this continues. When we see a high level of testing and vaccination, it gives us more confidence to lower alert levels.”

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