Ardern: Auckland moves to Alert Level 3

No more widespread cases in the workplace

Ardern: Auckland moves to Alert Level 3

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has downgraded the alert level in Auckland to Level 3 for rhe next two weeks, while stressing that the country will continue to take a "zero-tolerance" approach to COVID-19. According to Ardern, data from the director-general of health and the Cabinet found the Alert Level 4 in Auckland has "done what it needed to do."

"Therefore, we've accepted the director-general's health advice and confirmed that Auckland will move to Alert Level 3 at 11:59 pm tomorrow night, Tuesday, 21st of September," she announced.

When lowering the alert levels, Ardern said her government considered several points such as how none of confirmed infections stem from accessing essential services, that cases were dominated by mainly household contacts, and the decline of COVID-19 in the workplace.

"We haven't had widespread issues with workplaces, where we have had cases at work sites, these have generally been close contacts of existing clusters who have then gone on to infect work colleagues before they known contact," said Ardern. "Workplaces for the most part had strict protocols in place and have moved quickly when cases were identified within their worksite," added the prime minister.

Read more: Auckland commuters must show negative COVID test

Meanwhile, the rest of the country stays under Alert Level 2, with the restrictions to be reviewed on October 4.

The downgrading of the alert level in Auckland brought with it a sigh of relief for businesses owners, having been hit hard by restrictions just weeks ago. Under Alert Level 3, cafes, restaurants, and takeaways can open for contactless pick-up, delivery, or drive through. The Restaurant Association of New Zealand commended the move and called it a step "in the right direction."

"It’s a relief to see Auckland heading in the right direction with this move and while we know not all businesses can viably open at Level 3, many will be preparing to go back into their businesses again and reconnect with customers, and with their teams face to face," the association in a statement.

Read more: Auckland Business Chamber slams 'unfairness' between big firms, SMEs

Meanwhile, Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Business Chamber, urged businesses to "make the most" of the loosened restrictions.

The chamber has launched a survey on its website, with results so far revealing that while 80% of businesses can re-open, however about half of them can only operate at 50%. Only 10% can operate at 100%, 15% can operate at 25%, while five percent can operate at about 75%.

"So not a great outcome for many of those small businesses, plenty of constraints still there but at least we'll be able to get back to work and start preparing ourselves for a better level perhaps in a couple of weeks’ time," Barnett added.

According to Barnett, the survey showed that businesses are drowning in debt, and patience has been thin among businesses. He urged businesses to re-open if they can, adding that if they face constraints, they should report it to chamber so it can be raised to the government.

"One of my messages today really is if you can open if you can go back to work, please do so," he said, adding: "Level 3 make the most of it all."

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