Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for October 1, by Stewart Sowman-Lund. Send me thoughts and feelings to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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4.35pm: Central Auckland supermarket among new locations of interest
Countdown on Victoria Street West in downtown Auckland is a new location of interest, according to the Ministry of Health website. The date and time of interest is September 28, 1.30pm to 3.30pm. Fresho Mount Roskill on September 25 (12.15pm to 1pm).
See all locations of interest on The Spinoff’s interactive map.
4.25pm: NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian resigns from parliament
“I’m here to make a public statement and I won’t be taking any questions. So began the premier’s press conference this afternoon. Gladys Berejiklian delivered an emotional speech as she announced her resignation as NSW premier, saying she will step down as soon as the Liberal Party can elect a new leader. She will also resign from NSW parliament. Berejiklian said it was a difficult decision “but one I feel obliged to do because of the love and respect I have for the people of New South Wales”.
Berejiklian’s decision comes after it was revealed that NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is investigating allegations that Premier Gladys Berejiklian breached public trust when she awarded grants to community organisations between prior to 2018.
“I state categorically I’ve always acted with the highest level of integrity,” she said. “History will demonstrate that I’ve always executed my duties, again, with the highest level of integrity for the benefit of the people of New South Wales.
“I love my job and I love my community but I’ve been given no option following the statement that’s been issued today.”
3.45pm: Business community shocked at plans to keep Auckland boundary in place at level two
Three of the country’s most prominent business groups are unhappy with plans to keep Auckland’s boundary in place even after the shift to alert level two.
While a move down the alert levels next week is not guaranteed, prime minister Jacinda Ardern signalled that even if this does happen Aucklanders will be unable to leave the city for non-essential reasons.
In a joint statement, Business NZ, the Auckland Business Chamber and the Employers and Manufacturers Association said that came as a shock. “[It] is a devastating blow for many,” said the business chamber’s chief Michael Barnett. “It’s equally disappointing to hear that Monday’s announcement on alert levels and the border could be made with little no input or consultation from businesses and organisations in Auckland.”
Aucklanders should be able to cross the border once vaccinated, said the EMA’s Brett O’Rile, and this should be offered as a further incentive for people to get the jab. “People must be able to cross the border in alert level two, with the requisite testing and vaccination safeguards, otherwise economic activity will continue to be severely constrained, within Auckland and in other regions,” he said.
Keeping the “iron ring” around the city in place would severely impact the economy, said BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope. “Many businesses throughout the country in lower alert levels are still unable to operate at capacity because they can’t source critical materials, components, stock or people from Auckland.”
An announcement on Auckland’s lockdown – and any other alert level decisions – is due at 4pm on Monday.
3.20pm: The B Corp businesses balancing purpose, planet and profit
Since launching in 2006, companies around the world wanting to make a positive social and environmental contribution have applied to become certified B Corporations. But becoming a B Corp isn’t just about good intentions: certification depends on a company’s entire social and environmental performance, with proof to back those claims up. Today, more than 4,000 companies have successfully certified as B Corps, including household names like Ben & Jerry’s, Danone, Allbirds and Patagonia.
In this piece – created in partnership with Kiwibank – Jihee Junn talks to some of the New Zealand businesses taking action by joining the B Corp movement. Read the full article here.
2.20pm: New data shows movement in level three Auckland similar to New South Wales
New Google mobility data has revealed how Aucklanders movement has changed since the shift down from alert level four to three.
This first graph shows that since the move to level three, Aucklanders are out and about at similar rates to those in New South Wales. As an aside, New South Wales yesterday recorded 864 community cases of delta.
This second chart shows how movement in Auckland compares to pre-lockdown. While the shift to level three has resulted in a significant increase in movement, it is still no where near back to normal levels due to level three restrictions.
Finally, this graph charts how Auckland compares with other New Zealand areas. As you can see, Wellington and Canterbury are almost back to pre-lockdown movement despite sitting in delta level two at the moment.
These charts and more available on The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker here
1.50pm: What are the chances of a move to level two for Auckland next week?
Grant Robertson stressed at today’s briefing that significantly more important that the total case count was the number of unlinked or “mystery cases”. That was the “issue that we’re now focused on” going into Monday’s cabinet meeting where the decision on any change to alert levels would be taken.
“We’ve always said the elimination approach, the approach we’ve been taking, is a zero tolerance approach, but not a zero case [requirement],” he said. “You can apply some of that same logic to mystery cases, but not all the way, because mystery cases by their essence provide us with concern. We want to see that number get as low as we possibly can. The other point to make is I think everyone will have seen, over the full course of this, going right back to March last year, we have been cautious, we have been careful, we have been methodical in our decisions. And so we listen to the advice, we update that advice as close as possible to the time, and that would include looking at any mystery cases.” They would “drill down into anyone who fits into that category to see if we can understand what risk they pose”.
There are currently nine mystery cases from across the last fortnight, where contact tracers have not yet been able to establish any person-to-person, or epidemiological, link. Each case presents a risk of undetected chains of transmission.
The level of testing across Tāmaki Makaurau would also be instrumental in the decision on Monday, said Robertson.
1.30pm: How the outbreak is looking
Today marked the second day in a row with 19 new community cases of Covid-19, following the shock jump to 45 on Wednesday.
As you can see from the below graph, the last trio of days has pushed the trend in new cases back upward. However, just nine cases from the past fortnight remain unlinked.
Of some concern is the high number of cases infectious in the community while Auckland is in alert level three.
More graphs and analysis on The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker here
1.05pm: Outbreak grows by 19, with just one unlinked
There are 19 new community cases of Covid-19, all in Auckland. Just one has not yet been linked to another case.
Of yesterday’s cases, one remains unlinked. There are nine cases from the past fortnight that are so far not connected to the wider outbreak. However, 10 of yesterday’s cases – more than half – were infectious while in the community.
Many of our clusters are now considered to be contained, said director of public health Caroline McElnay, meaning they’re dormant or any new cases are among known contacts who are isolating. There are five active sub-clusters, where there have been cases emerging among unknown contacts, and public health efforts are focused on them.
“It is good news to see the levelling off of new cases,” she said. However, she warned of “fluctuation” in the daily cases and said as many as 35 could be expected in the coming days due to household contacts testing positive.
There are now 23 people in hospital with Covid-19, including four in ICU.
On the new Middlemore cases, McElnay said the number of exposure events at the hospital was not unexpected due to sub-clusters and quarantine facilities nearby. The person who self-discharged from the hospital last night is being managed by public health and is moving to a quarantine facility today.
The Naumi MIQ facility worker is now in a quarantine facility and contacts are being identified. Genome sequencing results are still pending, said McElnay.
More than 11,000 tests were taken across Auckland yesterday, with 19,000-plus swabs processed nationwide. 360 swabs were taken in Henderson yesterday, and 292 in Papakura, the two new suburbs of interest. 1,152 swabs were taken across all seven suburbs of interest yesterday.
Grant Robertson said it was important that Aucklanders continued to get tested. This will be one of the key considerations for cabinet when looking at the alert level on Monday, he said. “We must not be complacent,” said Robertson. “We really need Aucklanders to do the tremendous job they’ve been doing the past few days over the weekend,” he said, indicating that the latest testing numbers were good to see.
On the number of mystery cases that cabinet would tolerate in deciding whether to move Auckland to level two next week, Robertson said they wanted to “see that number get as low as it possibly can”.
Workplaces will be required to display additional QR codes throughout their businesses from midnight on Tuesday.
12.45pm: Latest Covid update due after Middlemore cases, Albany speculation
Deputy PM Grant Robertson and director of public health Caroline McElnay are on deck for today’s Covid briefing. Fingers crossed we see another drop in cases after Wednesday’s spike. It would also be great to have some of the mystery cases cleared up ahead of next week’s alert level decision.
We’re expecting further information on the pair of positive cases at Middlemore Hospital – including one that self-discharged after testing positive and reentered the community. A number of patients at the hospital have been deemed close contacts.
There is also some speculation of a positive case in Albany, on Auckland’s North Shore. We may find out further details on this as well.
As always – follow along with us live or tune into the livestream below.
12.25pm: West Auckland vaccination clinic shuts
A West Auckland drive through vaccination clinic has shut up shop, reports Stuff, despite an ongoing push to get jabs in Aucklanders’ arms.
The Trusts Arena site, run by Te Whānau O Waipareira, opened just over a month ago but has closed due to low numbers. Those who were booked in have been asked to rebook elsewhere.
About 40,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were given out at the clinic since it first opened.
11.30am: It’s time for… the Friday News Quiz
For the last few weeks, we’ve been running a weekly news quiz over on The Spinoff’s Instagram account. But, in a very exciting development, it’s now found its second home right here in the live updates.
Join us every Friday morning to see whether you’re on top of the goings on around Aotearoa. Let me know how you get on!
Having trouble on the app? Click here.
11.15am: ‘Status quo will not continue’ – three waters debate enters next phase
The local government minister has acknowledged the “the wide range of views” on the controversial three waters proposal.
As explained in this morning’s Bulletin, today marks the final day of engagement on the government plan to condense the 67 council-controlled authorities responsible for managing water into four big regional entities. Just six have endorsed the proposal.
“The challenges facing our water system and services have been around for more than two decades and we need to address them now,” said Nanaia Mahuta. “We are taking feedback on board, while reaffirming the status quo will not continue. With the passing of the Water Services Act earlier this week, monitoring and enforcement of compliance will increase – communities will not have to put up with second rate water services.”
The proposed restructure has been a serious talking point for the opposition over the past few months, with National’s Christopher Luxon leading the charge. He said the government is paving the way for a forced change – despite councils’ disapproval.
“In parliament yesterday the minister extolled the apparent virtues of an ‘all-in’ legislated approach to Three Waters reform, clearly paving the way for legislation to come,” claimed Luxon. “If an ‘all-in’ approach was the minister’s foregone conclusion, why has she wasted councils’ time by pretending to seek their views through a farcical engagement process, and making them go to the trouble of submitting feedback before today?”
A final report on the matter is due in the coming weeks and cabinet will then consider next steps for the three waters reforms.
10.20am: Auckland Hospital anticipating as many as six Covid deaths a week once borders open
Auckland Hospital is preparing for a sudden surge in Covid-related deaths once the borders open.
According to RNZ, the hospital will be able to cope with with an average of six Covid deaths per week next year – even with a 90% vaccination rate.
Upgrades to the hospital include improving intensive care, paediatric intensive care and maternity wards and ensuring areas are well ventilated. Modelling by Auckland DHB predicts as many as 1000 community cases each week when borders reopen.
“Delta does present some new and greater problems than we’ve ever faced, particularly around airborne disease,” said the DHB’s director of provider services Mike Shepherd.
Read more here
8.55am: Oranga Tamariki may be needed after father and children miraculously reappear
Oranga Tamariki has confirmed it has received a “report of concern” in relation to the three children missing with their father for almost three weeks.
Thomas Phillips and his young children Jayda, Maverick and Ember reappeared yesterday in Marokopa, after last being seen on September 11.
According to RNZ, Oranga Tamariki is now working with police to determine if it needs to be involved. According to an initial statement from police, Thomas and his children were all safe and well.
8.15am: Magazine icon Sido Kitchin to leave School Rd – the publishing house she founded just a year ago
The Fold’s Duncan Greive writes:
The founding of School Road felt like the first major green shoot after a torrid winter for our media – four new print magazines, overseen by a titan of the industry in former NZ Woman’s Weekly editor Sido Kitchin. The venture was bankrolled by Greg Partington, an advertising and media veteran who also owns the Stanley Street ad agency, and stepped into the void left by the collapse of Bauer Media’s local operations at the start of the pandemic.
Now the future of the venture is in flux, with Kitchin resigning her roles as group publisher, and editor of its flagship title Woman. A press release says she quit on September 10, and finishes in two week’s time, on October 15. Adding to the instability, The Spinoff understands that two further key editorial staff have also resigned from School Rd in recent weeks ahead of a looming reorganisation.
The news comes a little over a month after the publisher announced a content studio, and not long after wellness publication Thrive was moved to a bi-monthly frequency. While change is a given in media and magazines, it’s a lot to occur in such a short time. Stanley Street’s own website refers to “restless episodes [which] end with Partington buying or selling another business, such is the way of the entrepreneurial and somewhat mercurial businessman.” The magazines now sit under the control of Susan Browne, acting publisher, who was until recently running the content studio.
But School Road was named by Kitchin and very much built according to her vision – it will be very difficult for such a young publisher to rebuild after the loss.
“For my own personal reasons, it’s time for me to move on,” said Kitchin in a statement, “but these magazines have an exciting future and they will always have a place in my heart.”
8.00am: Middlemore chief admits ‘concern’ about allowing Covid case to self-discharge
Questions are being asked after a person who tested positive for Covid-19 at Middlemore Hospital was then able to self-discharge themselves.
The new case is one of two that were announced last night by the Ministry of Health. The cases were not connected to one another and both were at the hospital for issues unrelated to Covid-19.
Speaking to RNZ, Middlemore’s chief medical officer Peter Watson admitted there was some concern about allowing the person to self-discharge once they had tested positive – but said it “turned out to be fine”.
“This person received our treatment at the hospital, they were confirmed as being positive, they discharged themselves home and were followed up in the community,” he said. “At that point they didn’t require to be admitted.”
The person would have been discharged at the end of their time at the emergency department anyway, but chose to leave earlier, said Watson. “They were then followed up and they were returning to their home address,” he said. “We’re pretty good at knowing where people are going and following them up. This person, I know, had other people at home they were concerned about. As long as we can be following them up carefully in the community.”
In an “abundance of caution”, 66 patients have been deemed close contacts of the pair of new cases. As of last night, 34 of these remained in the hospital and have been moved to isolation wards, while 32 patients who have been discharged and are now under the management of ARPHS for testing and follow up.
7.30am: From The Bulletin
Auckland border likely to remain if alert level shifts. The prime minister signalled yesterday that there is a “high likelihood” that the ring around the country’s largest city will remain through next week’s school holidays if Auckland moves down to level two. Jacinda Ardern’s comments were in The Spinoff’s live updates along with details on the 19 new community cases yesterday, including a student at Mangatangi School in upper Hauraki. Central to cabinet’s review of Auckland’s alert level on Monday will be the 15 cases detected over the past fortnight that can’t be linked to other known infections, a sign that delta is still spreading through the city.
The Covid numbers: 18 new community cases were reported yesterday in Auckland and 1 in Waikato. 44% (20) of the previous day’s total were in the community while infectious. There are now 257 active cases. 40,874 people were vaccinated on Wednesday, of which 66% were second doses.
The Spinoff’s Covid data tracker has the latest figures.
Victoria sets a daily record number of new case. ABC reports that authorities in the Australian state say illegal gatherings and house parties during the recent AFL final weekend led to the 1,438 cases reported yesterday. Nearly one-third of the cases have been linked to parties. It was the second highest daily toll yet in Australia’s pandemic, after New South Wales posted a slightly worse day early last month. Premier Daniel Andrews, speaking with more than a hint of frustration yesterday morning, said most of the infections were “completely avoidable”. Despite a near immediate lockdown, the state’s cases have soared due to delta. Jacinda Ardern’s chief science advisor Tweeted out a graph with Australia’s outbreak yesterday. Victoria is on her mind.
In a needed moment of relief, a missing Marokopa family is safe. A dad and his three children, aged 5, 6 and 8, spent three weeks camping in dense Waikato bush, RNZ reports. While the father was an experienced bushman according to police, it’s still unclear exactly what happened during those weeks, what they ate and why it happened at all. Despite intensive local search and rescue efforts, the four just walked out of the bush yesterday and returned to the family farm. The local community wants answers after what it describes as “17 days of hell” wondering what had happened to the children. Police are trying to figure it out.
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