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blog oct 4

PoliticsOctober 4, 2021

Live updates, October 4: Relaxing restrictions in Auckland at current vaccination rate risky, say experts

blog oct 4

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for October 4, by Stewart Sowman-Lund. Reach me on

Help us keep you informed on Covid-19 – click here to learn how you can join The Spinoff Members.

What you need to know

  • Auckland will move to step one of a modified alert level three at 11.59pm on Tuesday night. 
  • At this time, Aucklanders will be able merge their bubbles outdoors with no more than two households at a time and up to a maximum of 10 people.
  • Cabinet will review the steps weekly. Steps two and three allow for things like bigger gatherings.
  • The rest of the country will remain in alert level two but with the 100 person gathering cap lifted.
  • There are 29 new community cases of Covid-19 – 28 in Auckland and one in Waikato.

6.30pm: Auckland CBD apartment block now a location of interest

Zest Apartments in Auckland CBD’s Nelson Street is now a location of interest, with a five-day exposure time from 1am on Thursday last week until 2pm today. The advice for people there during that period is to monitor for symptoms for 14 days, getting a test and isolating if you develop any.

Pak’nSave Lincoln Road in Henderson and Countdown Manukau were also added to the Ministry of Health’s list this evening, for exposure times on Wednesday, September 8 and yesterday, Sunday October 3, respectively.

Earlier in the day, Farro Mt Eden (Saturday October 2, 10.30-11am) and FreshChoice Ōtāhuhu (Tuesday September 28, 10-11.30am) were added, as were several North Shore locations: McDonald’s Wairau Road (Saturday October 2, 6-8pm); View Road Dairy Wairau Valley (Sunday, October 3, 12.30-1.30pm), and Z Albany service station for various times from Monday September 27 to Friday October 2.

See the ministry’s full list here, and our interactive map of all locations here.

6.00pm: Experts on the implications for vulnerable communities

Easing restrictions too quickly while so many of the population remain unvaccinated will have dire consequences for vulnerable people, says immunologist Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu of the University of Otago, Wellington.

“If we are not careful, we will be at serious risk of allowing our health system to become overwhelmed, given it was already under strain and burdened even before the Covid-19 pandemic began, says Sika-Paotunu. “One only has to consider the situation in other countries with their high hospitalisations and deaths for a reality check.”

Te Pūnaha Matatini modeller Michael Plank agrees. “While our vaccine rollout is still in progress, we remain extremely vulnerable to out-of-control outbreaks,” he says. “The government needs to pull out every stop to maximise vaccine uptake, particularly in Māori and Pasifika populations and other groups where coverage is low.”

5.35pm: Relaxing restrictions will open up ‘considerable opportunities for new spread’ – Hendy

Te Pūnaha Matatini modeller Shaun Hendy, who has worked with the government on its Covid-19 response, says the relaxing of alert level three restrictions in Auckland “will see more spread and more Covid cases in the community over the coming weeks”.

While not as risky as level two, the new settings “will still open up considerable opportunities for new spread”, said Hendy via the Science Media Centre.

Vaccination needs to accelerate in Auckland to get ahead of the outbreak, or there will be “significant strain on our testing and tracing system, not to mention our hospitals”.

Hendy says step two and three in the roadmap, which involve reopening retail and some hospitality, won’t be safe until the vaccination programme is “very well advanced”, which is likely to be “well into November”.

“Until then or unless vaccination take-up accelerates, Auckland is unlikely to be able to return to level two and there is a greater risk that restrictions will be be needed in other parts of the country.”

Meeting up outside is lower risk, but “definitely not zero risk”, said Hendy, urging people doing so to exercise caution and wear masks. If you’re yet to have your first vaccine dose, he advised avoiding meet-ups at all.

“This move really does put the responsibility for preventing spread in the hands of the public, so it is vitally important that everyone does their bit.”

5.20pm: Restrictions may need to be tightened again to prevent cases spiralling – Plank

Covid-19 modeller Michael Plank has cautiously welcomed the plan for phasing Auckland out of alert level three, but says the government must be ready to tighten restrictions if necessary to avoid a situation like that in Victoria.

“The roadmap for relaxing restrictions is a reasonable approach, starting with relatively low-risk outdoor gatherings and progressively reopening higher risk settings as the situation allows,” said Plank via the Science Media Centre. “But it will be crucial to remain adaptable and responsive to changes in the number cases and the healthcare demand they will generate.

“It may yet be necessary to adjust or tighten restrictions to prevent cases spiralling out of control. The Australian state of Victoria has gone from around 20 cases per day to 1,500 in just six weeks, and there are currently 96 Covid patients in ICU. This could happen here and it would put immense pressure on our hospitals.”

He said the new approach signalled a new phase of the pandemic, “where unfortunately community transmission of Covid-19 and ongoing measures to limit it are part of the new normal”, but “accepting that elimination isn’t possible doesn’t mean waving the white flag and letting it rip”.

Until the vaccination rate is much higher, “we have no alternative other than to suppress transmission as much as possible,” said Plank. “The government will need to pilot a very tricky route that avoids overflowing hospitals.”

4.50pm: Green Party join opposition in condemning new level three rules

The Green Party believe the new plan to ease restrictions in Auckland will risk the safety of our most vulnerable.

It means three of the five parties in parliament have now come out against the new roadmap, with the Māori Party yet to issue a statement.

Marama Davidson said we should have stayed the course with elimination. “Now is not the right time to change our approach, particularly when so many of our vulnerable communities are still at risk,” she said.

“We need a clear coordinated approach which prioritises our most vulnerable right now. We have seen the tragic consequences overseas when restrictions are eased too early.”

Despite delta’s “long tail”, Davidson believed elimination remained possible. “Our public health system has held up so far, but we worry that easing restrictions too early could overwhelm the hard-working nurses and doctors who we rely on to keep us safe.” Those most at risk as a result of the new level three rules include Māori, Pasifika and those with underlying health conditions.

“The government must focus all its resources on these vulnerable communities to ensure high vaccination rates,” said Davidson.

4.40pm: ‘Incoherent and timid’ – Judith Collins issues scathing take down of new level three roadmap

Judith Collins has labelled the government incompetent, and its Covid-19 strategy “incoherent” and “timid”, in a press release scathing of today’s alert level announcement.

“Today’s announcement confirms what most New Zealanders – especially Aucklanders – have come to learn only too well over the past seven weeks of lockdown: the government is completely out of ideas,” said the National Party leader.

“Elimination has failed but, while the prime minister says we’ve now moved to a ‘transition’ stage, the strategy is fundamentally unchanged.”

Collins called the roadmap out of alert level three – which includes a three-step easing of restrictions – a “vague wishlist” and said Ardern had no vision. “The fact is that Jacinda Ardern has no answers to problems that she and her government promised us were under control. The situation is now, very clearly, out of control and worsening every day,” said Collins.

“Enough is enough. Time has run out. The PM must admit she and her government have failed. Own up to your mistakes. Change direction. Be bold. There are choices.”

The Act Party was similarly critical but offered just a three paragraph response. “To summarise the prime minister’s “road map” Auckland will go to level two gradually at an unspecified timeframe. And there will be picnics,” suggested David Seymour.  “Jacinda Arden should admit she was wrong, give us a proper plan and let Aucklanders know when the finish line is in sight.”

Read the new alert level three rules here

4.00pm: Level two and two-thirds – Auckland to begin level three exit from Wednesday

Restrictions in Auckland are set to ease slightly with the prime minister unveiling a new modified form of the existing alert level three. However, the city is set to face at least another three weeks of tight restrictions.

The three-step pathway out of lockdown will begin this Tuesday night at 11.59pm. At this time, Aucklanders will be able merge their bubbles outdoors with no more than two households at a time and up to a maximum of 10 people. Early childhood education will return for all and people can move around Auckland for recreation such as beach visits and hunting.

At step two – which will begin at a currently undetermined date – retail will open their doors, with the usual measures of wearing face masks and keeping up physical distancing. Public facilities such as pools and zoos will open and the number of people who can meet outdoors will increase to 25.

Finally, at step three, hospitality will reopen – 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,” said Jacinda Ardern. “The wage subsidy will continue to be available.

“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.”

The rest of New Zealand will remain at alert level two while Auckland is under this higher restriction, however the 100 limit cap on hospitality venues will be removed. “The requirement for customers to be seated and separated with physical distancing remains in place,” said Ardern.

Read more on the new rules here

Speaking at parliament, Ardern indicated that the new strategy was the end of the government’s elimination strategy. “Elimination was important because we didn’t have vaccines. Now we do,” she said.

“This is a change in approach we were always going to make over time. The delta outbreak has accelerated that transition, and vaccines will support it.”

Reiterating the new rules, Ardern emphasised the need for gatherings in Auckland to be outdoors. “The public health advice is that these changes are unlikely to contribute to growth in the current outbreak,” said Ardern. However, they would make a “material difference” to Aucklanders’ ability to comply with requirements.

Ardern said the decision to allow outdoor gatherings was in part a response to an impatience with current measures, “to try and prevent any fraying at the seams by meeting inside”.

On the alert level three rules in Waikato, Ardern confirmed these would not change. They are designed to be a temporary measure until Friday night.

Ardern said she was confident that schools would be able to reopen on October 18, after the school holidays, “with a range of precautions in place”. A further update on this would be provided in advance, said Ardern. The plan, she insisted, was “careful and methodical”.

Asked whether level four was now removed from the equation, Ardern said the future goal has always been to avoid returning to total lockdown. “We are not ready to remove the really strong approach we have taken to Covid-19. We will continue with that.”

She added: “Continuing to stamp out cases is the right thing to do.”

On giving the health advice, Ashley Bloomfield said officials took a look at the existing alert level framework. “We looked very carefully at the things in each step that would not increase the risk much at all, and we advised that it would be reviewed each week.” Ardern said it was a decision based on health advice and she “didn’t consider it political”.

3.50pm: Ardern to reveal roadmap for Auckland’s shift out of lockdown

Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield will reveal whether Auckland can leave alert level three and set out a “roadmap” for getting Aucklanders out of restrictions.

While we wait for today’s press conference, in which Jacinda Ardern is poised to announce some form of modification to our alert level system, a jump back in time. It was 562 days ago that the PM addressed the nation and unveiled our four tiered alert system.

As always, follow along with our live coverage or watch the stream below:

3.30pm: Vaccine first doses plummet to lowest in three months

Ahead of the 4pm press conference, some more figures to keep in mind.

Yesterday saw the lowest number of first doses given out since July 18 (discounting the day when the rollout stopped due to the beginning of lockdown). Of course, vaccine figures are always lower however seeing just 7041 people go for the first jab is of concern. A slightly more promising 19,992 second doses were given out yesterday.

And, below, a reminder of how the vaccine rollout is tracking when compared between age, ethnicity and individual DHBs. As you can see, the figure for Māori is notably lower across most age groups.

These graphs and more are available on The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker here

3.15pm: Pandora Papers document leak the biggest in history

While today’s news in New Zealand has largely been dominated by Covid-19, another story has been making waves here and around the world: the Pandora Papers.

Following in the footsteps of other tax document dumps, such as the Panama Papers, this leak is has been deemed the “most expansive in history”. The global investigation has been led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and involved just two local media organisations involved – TVNZ and the NZ Herald.

The leak contains roughly 11.9 million records from more than 200 countries, revealing insights into the offshore financial arrangements of over 29,000 beneficiaries. To put that in perspective, that’s twice the number of beneficial owners that were caught up in in the Panama Papers. Celebrities, royals and politicians are among those named.

Obviously, it’s a highly complex and developing story so I’d encourage you to read the local media reports and the background can be found on the ICIJ website here.

2.55pm: Brian Tamaki may face charges over lockdown protest – police

Brian Tamaki could face charges for his role in an anti-lockdown protest held in Auckland over the weekend.

The Destiny Church leader was one of the most prominent organisers of the rally, which reportedly attracted crowds of over 2000 people. While Jacinda Ardern labelled the event “illegal”, police chose not to get involved at the rally itself.

In a statement to Newshub, police said they were in the final stages of their investigation and were considering charging the organisers. Police were “disappointed at the large numbers, and that organisers did not follow through on undertakings they had given police about how the event would be managed”.

For breaching Covid-19 restrictions, Tamaki and other organisers could face prison time or a $4000 fine.

2.30pm: Extend wage subsidy into level two or more will go the way of Euro – Auckland hospo sector

Ahead of cabinet’s alert level decision this afternoon, Auckland’s hospitality sector has reiterated its calls for an extension of the wage subsidy into level two.

More than 300 members of the industry attended an emergency Zoom meeting yesterday afternoon, during which a panel discussed the hardships faced by the industry after a succession of lockdowns, and a number of Auckland hospitality operators explained their precarious situations.

One was Kieran Turnbull, operations manager for the Nourish Group, which recently announced its high-profile Viaduct restaurant Euro would close for good.

Turnbull said it was a hard decision, but one the group had considered in previous lockdowns. The current lockdown was akin to “death by a thousand cuts”, he said, and the government signalling the wage subsidy wouldn’t be extended into alert level two was the last straw.

While the public might think a move to level two means “we’re away again”, there’s a substantial lag between the alert shift and the industry seeing a lift in revenue, he said. “And because it [Euro] is a slightly bigger site than some of our others, it’s a huge decision to make – that decision to get going again and commit to staff and to suppliers. “So we made the decision not to do it, especially because the wage subsidy wouldn’t be considered.”

Currently, as long as at least one area of New Zealand is at alert level three or higher, businesses anywhere that can show a 40% loss in revenue can access the wage subsidy. At level two, the subsidy is no longer available, but hospitality businesses must operate under a range of restrictions that often result in revenue staying well down.

The wage subsidy being available at level two “definitely would have changed our thinking”, said Turnbull. “Knowing that the subsidy would be stopping around the country – we’ve got sites in Wellington and Queenstown – we had to take into account what would be the flow-on effects. It didn’t give us confidence.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, its organisers called on the government to provide the wage subsidy for hospitality businesses at level two, and to make resurgence payments, tied to revenue levels, available weekly or bi-weekly.

“We have survived by taking on unprecedented levels of debt from borrowing, and by not paying bills,” said Jamie Freeman, Auckland branch manager of Hospitality New Zealand and operations manager of Joylab, which owns a number of Auckland bars, in an emailed statement sent following the meeting. “We will have no opportunity to pay back loans and debts until level one, and that is likely to take up to a year to repay.

“A move to level two that limits capacity and involves staffing and sociability restrictions necessarily limits our revenue to under break-even. Our losses will be worse because level two will mean the end of the wage subsidy for us, and for our peers across New Zealand who rely on Auckland travellers.

“The absence of a plan to return to normal by Christmas, and continued risk of further lockdowns, means many businesses cannot be certain about their financial future. Some are only weeks away from closure.”

2.00pm: How the outbreak’s tracking

There’s a scarily upward trend in the below graph of daily new cases reported. Today saw 29 new cases, a slightly drop on yesterday but roughly around what we’ve seen over the past few days.

Meanwhile, arguably the more important graph ahead of the alert level decision: how many people have been infectious while in the community. We’ve seen a fairly sudden jump in this chart since last week’s nerve-wracking 45 cases on Wednesday.

As always – for these charts and 18 more – visit The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker page here

1.25pm: Genome sequencing confirms Waikato cases linked to Auckland outbreak

The pair of community Covid-19 cases that yesterday plunged parts of Waikato into alert level three lockdown have now definitively been linked to the Auckland outbreak.

Whole genome sequencing for the Raglan case and the Hamilton case have both been completed, said the Ministry of Health, confirming both cases are linked and both cases are also linked to one of the subclusters in Auckland.

There has been a surge for testing in Waikato since the cases were confirmed. Yesterday, more than 600 swabs were taken across the testing centres at Founders and Claudelands in Hamilton, and around 150 swabs were taken at the pop-up testing site in Raglan.

“It is important that testing facilities are available for priority groups, to help us determine whether there has been any undetected community spread of the virus,” said the Ministry of Health.

To deal with high demand for testing, anyone who is not symptomatic and has not visited a location of interest is asked not to get tested at this point.

Meanwhile, with the change to alert levels in parts of Waikato, travel exemptions will start being processed from 7am tomorrow.

1.10pm: Auckland Hospital walk-in tests positive for Covid-19

A person who went to Auckland City Hospital’s emergency department yesterday and was admitted to intensive care for non-Covid-19 reasons, has since tested positive for the virus.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said Auckland DHB is working at pace to investigate this case and identify any potential contacts. “The patient was separated appropriately on arrival at the ED as being at risk for Covid-19 and staff were wearing appropriate PPE including N95 masks,” the ministry said. “They had also previously visited the ED and returned a negative test on Saturday, so it is believed the infection has been identified early.

Auckland DHB advice is that patients and whānau who have been at Auckland City Hospital and in the ED do not need to take action unless they are contacted by public health officials.

1.00pm: Outbreak grows by 29 ahead of Auckland alert level decision

There are 29 new cases of Covid-19 in the community ahead of this afternoon’s decision on whether Auckland can leave alert level three.

Of these, 28 are in Auckland while one – reported yesterday – is in Waikato. A further three household contacts of the Raglan case have also tested positive, said the Ministry of Health, but these would be recorded in tomorrow’s update.

So far eight of today’s 29 cases cannot be linked to the wider outbreak, with 21 cases from the past fortnight remaining unconnected. More than half – 58% – of yesterday’s 33 cases were deemed infectious in the community, said the ministry.

There are now 30 people in hospital with Covid-19 – an increase of four since yesterday and 12 since Friday. Of these, five are intensive care.

Over the past 24 hours, 13,693 tests were processed nationwide with more than 7000 of these in Auckland alone. On the vaccine front, more than two million people are now fully vaccinated with a fairly low 27,033 doses administered yesterday.

Meanwhile, initial tests from all four close contacts associated with worksites of the Auckland-based truck driver, who is isolating in Palmerston North, have returned initial negative results.

12.55pm: Reminder, there is no 1pm press conference

The latest Covid-19 numbers will come via press release at 1pm(ish). As soon as it lands in my inbox, we’ll have that for you here.

Meanwhile, the PM and Ashley Bloomfield will next speak at 4pm.

Keep this page nicely refreshed for all the latest.

12.40pm: Two million New Zealanders fully vaccinated

More than two million New Zealanders have been fully vaccinated, ahead of this afternoon’s decision on whether Auckland can leave alert level three.

In a statement, Covid response minister Chris Hipkins said 48% of the eligible population had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. “More broadly, 3,328,286 people have had at least one dose – that’s 79% of people aged 12 and over,” he said.

Another million bookings have been made, said Hipkins, with the country on track to reach max vaccination by the end of the year.

12.30pm: Billy TK to face jury trial over false donations

Wannabe politician Billy TK has had his name suppression dropped, revealing he’s been charged with filing false candidate donations and obtaining a total of $15,000 by deception.

As Stuff reports, the former Public Party leader and anti-lockdown figurehead will face a jury trial later this year in relation to the charges under the Electoral Act.

In August, TK was arrested for holding an anti-lockdown rally outside TVNZ in Auckland during alert level four.

11.15am: Auckland taxi driver confirmed as positive Covid case

An Auckland taxi driver has been revealed as a confirmed case of Covid-19 – with concerns they may have transported essential workers while infectious.

It’s the latest in a string of concerning exposure events, following a newborn baby testing positive earlier today.

According to TVNZ, the Blue Bubble Taxi driver is now in managed isolation but it’s not yet known how they caught the virus.

Co-op Taxis Auckland operations manager Shaun Williams said the driver worked until late in the night on both Friday September 24 and Saturday September 25.

“He felt fine on Sunday, he woke up Monday, he said, he sort of had a bit of a sore throat so he took the day off. Tuesday, same thing, still feeling unwell so he took the day off then went and got a test done later that day and stayed off duty until the result came back which was unfortunately positive on Thursday,” Williams said.

Auckland Regional Public Health believe the driver may have been infectious during those two night shifts, said Williams.

10.00am: Experts agree Auckland should not leave level three yet

Experts appear to be in agreement: Auckland should not leave alert level three just yet.

Cabinet will meet today to discuss any changes to the alert levels ahead of a press conference at 4pm this afternoon.

Speaking to Newshub, epidemiologist Michael Baker said the changes of Auckland moving out of lockdown were “very low” and total elimination was now unlikely. “Elimination is technically possible now but it would require a huge effort and it would be very tough on people,” he said.

Immunologist Graham Le Gros was in agreement. He told TVNZ’s Breakfast that a move out of lockdown was too risky. “We’ll probably have to stay in lockdown for a wee bit longer because we just don’t know what’s going on,” he said. As for the goal vaccination rate, Le Gros suggested 90% may be too hard. “I’d go 85%. It’s going to be risky but everything is going to be risky,” he said.

9.30am: Police need to use ‘even hand’ when dealing with lockdown breaches – Collins

Judith Collins has condemned an anti-lockdown rally held in Auckland over the weekend, but would not say whether the police should have intervened.

So far, no arrests have been made despite roughly 2000 people convening in Auckland’s domain during alert level three.

Speaking to RNZ, Collins said it was a police operational matter but believed the lack of intervention may lead to further protests. “The problem we have here is that the police will more likely see more of this but they do need to be able to use an even hand, either with the Destiny Church followers or with gangs,” she said.

“You can’t seriously expect that they’re going to be arresting thousands of peoples. But it is important that the public sees the police.”

It’s a similar view to that of the prime minister, who has labelled the protest “illegal” but said it was not up to her to direct the police.

Collins said she understood why people were frustrated with the lockdown, but a public rally was “not the way to express that dissatisfaction.”

“It is really very dangerous when we have large numbers of people together,” she said. Collins said she did not have any sympathy for the gathering itself, but was critical of gang members flouting the rules with no repercussions. “That is where we say things need to be very even handedly dealt with. Everyone needs to follow the rule,” she said.

Original photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

8.50am: Newborn baby tests positive for Covid-19

A newborn baby at Auckland’s North Shore Hospital has tested positive for Covid-19, 1News reports.

The baby was asymptomatic and its parents are now being tested for the virus. More than 20 staff members from the maternity ward have now been identified as close contacts and will be stood down while tested.

This is the second Covid scare linked to young children in as many days. Yesterday, a parent of a baby in Auckland Hospital’s neo-natal ICU tested positive as well.

8.00am: Decision day for Auckland – PM teases ‘roadmap’ for the future

Jacinda Ardern has not ruled out moving Auckland out of alert level three this week, despite a surge in new community cases and spread of delta to Waikato.

Household contacts of the new Raglan case have tested positive for the virus overnight, pushing the number of community cases outside Auckland up from the current two. However, a potential genomic link between the Hamilton case and the Auckland outbreak has also been identified.

Speaking to RNZ, the prime minister said today’s cabinet decision may not simply be a black or white change to the alert level. “We do need to take a very cautious approach,” Ardern said. “I know that people naturally look to singular alert level shifts. What we’ve been doing instead is looking across the board at all of the restrictions and whether or not there are some options there that are lower risk that we could ease just to support Aucklanders.”

Cabinet will meet today to make final decisions, taking into account the latest information from health officials including Ashley Bloomfield. Then, at a 4pm press conference, any decisions made will be released. “We’ll be setting out a roadmap of sorts that looks beyond just single decisions, out to the future,” said Ardern.

Pushed on whether this was an admission that elimination may no longer be the strategy, Ardern admitted that we were moving into the next stage – and it all hinged on vaccination. “Elimination was right for now, while we vaccinate,” she said. “We are still vaccinating, we are in a transition. So we are changing our strategy as we move.”

7.45am: A reminder of the Waikato border

Waikato moved to join Auckland in alert level three overnight. Here’s a reminder of the geographical boundary currently in play:

7.30am: From The Bulletin

The Pandora papers throw a spotlight on the wealthy. A massive leak of millions of documents, believed to be the largest ever, has revealed how the powerful have used secret offshore financial arrangements to shield their wealth from scrutiny and tax. The NZ Herald, part of a global consortium that tackled nearly 12 million documents, has chronicled how New Zealand-based trusts became involved in a global money machine, protecting the identities of oligarchs, billionaires and corrupt foreign politicians who sent fortunes here.

Air NZ to ban unvaccinated travellers from international flights. The airline’s chief executive told One News that the decision follows “overwhelming” feedback from staff and customers that the measure will make them feel safer. The ban will apply from February 1 of next year. The move also reflects the number of countries that Air New Zealand flies to that won’t let unvaccinated travellers in. In a similar decision, the government announced yesterday that all non-New Zealand citizens entering the country will need to be fully vaccinated by November 1. The Auckland Business Chamber also said yesterday that the city’s businesses want a “no jab, no job” mandate for staff. Expect many more of these announcements over the coming weeks.

The Covid numbers: 32 new community cases were reported yesterday in Auckland and 1 in Waikato*. 52% (14) of the previous day’s total were in the community while infectious. There are now 250 active cases. 50,067 people were vaccinated on Saturday, of which 74% were second doses.

*The second Waikato case will be in tomorrow’s numbers.

The Spinoff’s Covid data tracker has the latest figures.

No arrests or fines issued as more than 1000 attend Auckland anti-lockdown protest. Jacinda Ardern said the protest, led by Destiny church leader Brian Tamaki was “a complete slap in the face to every Aucklander”. While the event was significantly over the 10 person gathering limit for the city, police issued a statement of disappointment and said a number of people hadn’t worn masks or kept social distancing. Tamaki denied what police saw and said people kept to their bubbles. The NZ Herald reports that a number of experts said the gathering was an unnecessary risk.

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