Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for September 20, by Stewart Sowman-Lund. Say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A summary of the alert level decision
- Auckland will move to alert level three at 11.59pm tomorrow night.
- This will be for an initial period of two weeks and be reviewed by cabinet on October 4.
- “Bespoke level four” restrictions are in place in a small area around Mangatangi, from the road boundary to the east of Maramarua to the southeast of Miranda on the Firth of Thames.
- The rest of NZ will stay at alert level two while Auckland is in level three, but the maximum gathering number will increase to 100.
6.45pm: MIQ boss deems new booking system a success, says new facilities in the works
“The release today went smoothly, technically,” said Megan Main, deputy CEO of the MIQ system, on the new “lobby” system for booking places in the managed isolated system that went online this morning (see 9.40am). She told RNZ that 5,300 people from 117 countries scored vouchers for 3,200 rooms. “I know it was good for those people, but I also know there are thousands of people who missed out in today’s release. I really want to reassure people that we’ve still got several thousand vouchers to release through to the end of the year.”
There was likely to be a “smaller, more targeted release towards the end of the week” reallocating vouchers among those who didn’t confirm the spots, while a further release of 2,000 vouchers was planned for early next week, she said. The system as a whole “did what we hoped it would so it does mean we can keep using it in the future”. There were 25,000 people in the lobby just before 9am. At its peak, 31,800 people were in the online vestibule.
“We want as many people as possible to get back to New Zealand, but there isn’t an unlimited number of MIQ rooms. And it’s not just the hotels,” she said. “We are looking at the feasibility of standing up two or three facilities in the near term. But it’s not just finding hotels that are suitable, with suitable ventilation. It’s the workforce, the health workforce, the security workforce, the defence workforce. And also, importantly, it’s access to heath system capacity, if the need is there.” Main was unable to put a timeframe on those new facilities, nor specify which they might be. Ohakea air base was “not on my shortlist”, she said.
6.15pm: Experts on the risks of moving to level three
The delta outbreak in Auckland “is clearly not fully under control as seen with the recent spread into the north Waikato and also persisting mystery cases”, so the decision to progress with the decision to move to level three is a “relatively brave move”. That’s the assessment from public health expert Nick Wilson of the University of Otago. “Hopefully the government will also shortly move to intensify a range of control measures that will increase the chances of eliminating this outbreak. These include mandatory universal use of masks indoors – including in schools in alert levels two and three,” he said, in comments via the Science Media Centre.
Michael Plank, a modelling expert for Te Pūnaha Matatini and the University of Canterbury calls the decision a “calculated risk”. While most of the subclusters are under control, “we are still seeing some stubborn spread between households that is proving difficult to stamp out. There is a danger that the increased number of people out in the community and the workplace at level three will add fuel to a smouldering fire and lead to an increase in cases.”
He added: “Contact tracers are finding that most new cases are not being infected in essential workplaces or services, but via extended family or friends. This means that some increase in the number of workplaces and services operating at level three may a relatively low-risk way to relax the lockdown, provided they carefully follow the appropriate procedures.” But, he said, “If the outbreak starts to gather steam, it may yet be necessary to tighten restrictions again. An uncontrolled outbreak still has the potential to rapidly overwhelm our health system. Once vaccination rates are higher this threat will start to recede, but we are still months away from getting everyone fully vaccinated. In the meantime, please enjoy the additional freedoms of Level 3 responsibly and most importantly stick to your bubble.”
4.45pm: Prisoner thought to have been infected by one of people who transported him to bail address
The man who was remanded on bail from Mt Eden prison to an address in Whakatīwai in the northern Waikato was transported there from Auckland by three people, the prime minister has revealed, one of whom is thought to have infected him.
In this afternoon’s press conference, Ardern initially said “a small number of people” had been involved in the drop-off. “There was a specified person who was meant to take them back to their bail address. We’re just working through whether or not bail conditions mean that should be an exclusive arrangement or not.”
Genome sequencing isn’t back yet, but it is likely the prisoner was infected by one of the people he was in the car with, said director general of health Ashley Bloomfield.
After questioning, Ardern said three people were involved in the drop-off, and at least one of them – possibly the one who passed on the virus – then stayed on at the address. “We believe the person who infected him was in that car. We’re establishing the length of time that that person then resided with that individual.”
Ardern said every stop and movement the man made on the way to Whakatīwai was known because of GPS monitoring. His bail conditions stipulated that he had to be transported by a specified person and “more or less” needed to take a direct route.
“What we’re trying to ascertain is whether or not that person who was directed to take them there did follow through all the way to the bail address,” said Ardern.
4.20pm: Auckland to move to level three for two weeks
Auckland will move to alert level three from 11.59pm tomorrow night, as planned, after roughly five weeks in total lockdown.
This will initially be for a period of at least two weeks, on the advice of Ashley Bloomfield. Cabinet will review these settings on October 4.
“In terms of what level three means for Auckland, I can sum it up with one word: caution,” said prime minister Jacinda Ardern.
However: “We are satisfied there is no significant undetected transmission [but] delta has a long, hard tail.”
Ardern said, for the most part, 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 gone on to infect workmates,” she said. “Workplaces for the most part have strict protocols and have acted quickly. This approach remains really important going forward.”
No known cases have resulted from people accessing essential services, said Ardern.
Also as previously indicated, the rest of New Zealand will remain at delta at level two while Auckland is at a higher alert level. However, gathering limits will be increased to 100 – up from the current max of 50.
A recap of the level three rules
“We are not stepping out of level four because the job is done, but nor are we moving because we don’t think we can achieve the goal of stamping out Covid-19,” said Ardern, reiterating the rules for level three in Auckland. “We are moving because level three still provides a cautious approach while we continue to stamp out Covid-19.”
It’s been a while, so here are some of the rules from the PM:
- Your bubbles remain. You are not allowed to visit friends or neighbours at level three: “I know this is strict and it is hard but it’s there for a reason.”
- You are allowed to make very minor extensions to your bubble to bring in vulnerable family members or carers for children: “These are very tightly controlled extensions – your bubbles must stay small and exclusive.”
- More businesses can open, but with strict rules: “Look out for your staff – if any of your workers show up with cold and flu symptoms, please send them to get a Covid test and support them to stay at home until they are well.”
- Keep children and young people at home where you can. They can only go to school if their parents must work and there is no other options.
- Cabinet has agreed to make face coverings mandatory for level three high schools in indoor settings – but it will very rare that anyone will be attendance at these schools.
- For those over 65, level three advice is to stay at home if you have not yet been vaccinated (about 23,000 people).
Questioned whether the move down to level three while case numbers were escalating meant the elimination strategy was over, both Ardern and Bloomfield said no. An important distinction, said Bloomfield, is this will be “level three with high and increasing levels of vaccination”.
“Three is a continuation of stamp it out, not a cutting loose of those restrictions,” said Ardern.
4.15pm: No more Covid cases linked to remand prisoner – so far
From the Ministry of Health:
The final household member of the northern Hauraki house where the remand prisoner stayed has now been tested and results are pending.
An investigation into the epidemiological link (exact route of infection) is ongoing – our working hypothesis being that the individual was infected in Auckland after leaving prison, rather than by someone in the local community where he was staying.
Further tests, including whole genome sequencing of the first close contacts, are due tomorrow.
The ongoing investigation from Auckland Regional Public Health is looking to establish epidemiological links to the wider Auckland outbreak, guided by the whole genome sequencing results as they become available.
The five further household members isolating at home returned negative results yesterday, giving us confidence that they have not been infectious in the community.
All three positive cases, and an accompanying adult caregiver, have been moved to a quarantine facility.
To date negative results have been returned from testing of close contacts among prison staff, other prisoners, police and court staff.
A pop-up testing centre in the northern Hauraki town of Wharekawa marae in Whakatīwai has been busy today testing locals. Waikato DHB reports 340 tests have been taken as of 2pm today.
4.10pm: ‘Bespoke level four’ for those near Mangatangi
A section 70 notice has been introduced for residents around the Mangatangi area in Waikato.
This will be in effect from the road boundary to the east of Maramarua and the southeast of Miranda on the firth of Thames.
As part of this, Ashley Bloomfield said anyone who lives or works in the area, or has visited there since September 8, should stay home until this Friday. “Some may be asked to be tested as we find more locations of interest,” said Bloomfield.
The order amounts to “a bespoke level four lockdown requirement”, said Jacinda Ardern. “We do want to make sure we are keeping the community safe.”
The reason both a boundary approach and a section 70 has been used is to cover people who don’t live within that area but may have been there to work.
3.50pm: Watch live – Ardern to reveal alert level decision
Aucklanders are holding their breath as we await yet another big alert level decision from the PM and Ashley Bloomfield. This time, Waikato has been thrown into the mix after a Covid scare over the weekend saw three household contacts of a known case catch the virus, including two students who have been at a school.
As always, you can tune into the presser below or follow along with our live coverage from 4pm.
3.45pm: While we wait for the big news… the Emmys!
I’ve spent the day flicking between crushing Covid-19 news and the mindless joy of watching celebrities do celebrity stuff at the Emmy Awards. Has anyone in the whole world watched Halston? No? Well at least Ted Lasso and The Crown won big.
Here’s a recap of what you missed, from The Spinoff’s Sam Brooks:
The 2021 Primetime Emmys were awarded this afternoon, with Ted Lasso scooping up four big prizes (Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series) and The Crown sweeping up five big prizes, in what I like to call a Schitt’s Sweep (Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series).
Other notable winners include The Queen’s Gambit for Outstanding Limited Series, Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series and Ewan McGregor in Halston for Outstanding Actor in a Limited Series. In a pretty sore spot, one of the very few POC to win an award in the televised ceremony was Michaela Coel for Best Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special for her exemplary work on I May Destroy You.
Most notably for us back in New Zealand: Jessica Hobbs, a Christchurch-born director who has worked on Broadchurch, The Slap and Rake, won the award for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series for the final episode of the fourth season of The Crown, “War”. She was previously nominated for her work directing the season finale of the third season, “Cri de Coeur”.
3.25pm: Pair arrested for trying to get into Auckland with KFC, $100k cash
A pair of gang associates have been arrested trying to get into Auckland with over $100,000 in cash and a boot full of KFC.
The 23 and 30-year-old were picked up by police during a patrol of back roads near the south Auckland boundary. “Officers noticed a suspicious looking vehicle travelling on a gravel road and upon seeing the police car, the vehicle did a u-turn and sped off trying to evade police,” said a statement.
“The vehicle eventually pulled over and police established they had been travelling from Hamilton trying to get into Auckland.”
Police then found the cash, takeaways and empty ounce bags.
The pair will appear in court for breaching the Covid-19 health order with further charges likely.
3.10pm: How the outbreak is tracking before the alert level decision
Here’s how the outbreak looks after another 22 cases were announced this afternoon.
We’ll bring you the latest from 4pm when Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield speak from the Beehive.
2.05pm: Is the elimination strategy over?
The government is being pushed to admit whether or not it still believes in an elimination strategy.
With new cases numbers sitting around the 20 mark each day, and a new delta scare in Waikato, some experts have asked whether a move to level three for Auckland is wise.
Act’s David Seymour said taking Auckland out of level four would demonstrate the government had given up on elimination.
“During the first lockdown, the government kept New Zealanders in level four based on the four-day average of 10 cases of the less contagious strain. If it now moved to level three on a four-day average of 20 cases of delta, and persistent unlinked cases each day, then surely the elimination strategy is over?” he asked.
“The government needs to tell us what the strategy is and what it’s done to support any new strategy. Does it think Covid-19 can be eliminated at level three and how long will it take?”
Asked a similar question on Newstalk ZB this morning, deputy PM Grant Robertson said Covid could be eliminated during level three and that the risk of spread to Waikato did not prevent a shift down. “You can still eliminate in a level three framework. Level three still has quite significant restrictions,” he said.
1.50pm: MIQ worker test result a ‘false positive’; genome sequencing links truckie to outbreak
A couple of other interesting tidbits from today’s Ministry of Health update.
Firstly, a recent positive result for an MIQ worker in Auckland has been reclassified as a false positive. The So Hotel worker tested positive last week, but follow-up tests confirmed they do not have the virus.
The individual has been notified and will be able to be released from the quarantine facility today, said today’s statement.
Meanwhile, whole genome sequencing has linked both a Covid-positive truck driver and a couple who went to Middlemore Hospital with Covid symptoms to the main outbreak cluster.
1.10pm: 22 new Covid-19 cases ahead of alert level decision
There are 22 new cases of Covid-19 in the community. It’s the final set of case information that will be considered by cabinet ahead of this afternoon’s announcement on whether Auckland can move down to alert level three.
Last week, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said an “in principle” decision had been made to shift the supercity out of lockdown at 11.59pm tomorrow night, pending the outbreak growing out of control.
All of today’s cases are categorised as in Auckland, but the number does include the three detected in Whakatīwai in Waikato yesterday. Those three cases “fall within the Counties Manukau DHB catchment”, said the Ministry of Health.
The outbreak now totals 1071, although 694 people have recovered.
Of today’s cases, five have not yet been epidemiologically linked to the wider outbreak, with 12 unlinked cases in total. This is one of the key pieces of information that cabinet will be looking at when determining the alert level. Three of today’s five unlinked cases are from one household, while the other two are being interviewed.
Six of the 24 cases announced yesterday were infectious while in the community, with the remaining 18 already in self-isolation when returning a positive result.
The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 is now 16: one on the North Shore, five in Auckland Hospital and the remaining 10 in Middlemore. Four people remain in intensive care.
On the testing front, 8084 were given out nationwide yesterday. Just under 4000 of these were in Auckland with the ministry saying testing remained high in the seven suburbs of interest. In addition: “Today we are asking in particular for anyone living in Clover Park, on the south east side of Papatoetoe, to please get tested,” said the ministry.
Yesterday saw 26,673 vaccines administered. While that number is fairly low, vaccination rates always drop on a Sunday. Almost 3.1 million people have now received their first dose, with 1.6 million people fully vaccinated. As noted by Stuff’s Henry Cooke, yesterday’s vaccine numbers were the lowest since August 15 (which was also a Sunday).
Our coverage of the Covid response depends on members’ contributions. Click here to learn more.
1.05pm: While we wait…
A brief reprieve from Covid news: a male godwit/kuaka migrating back to the Firth of Thames took a drastic u-turn while over the Pacific Ocean, travelling all the way to its take-off point in Alaska.
According to the Department of Conservation, the bird – which was fitted with a transmitter in 2019 – took off from tidal flats in Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim delta on September 11 before encountering strong winds 2000 kilometres into his journey across the Pacific. After flying for 33 hours, the bird turned around and landed back in Alaska 57 hours after first leaving.
Named 4BRWB because of the bands on his legs, the bird has experienced similar difficulties before. “Last year, he also had difficult winds – strong easterlies – and he stopped in New Caledonia for a month, before eventually coming back here,” said zoologist Phil Battley. “It’s been hit by a problem two years in a row, I think you can call it unlucky!”
12.55pm: Nervous wait for Auckland, Waikato as latest delta cases to be revealed
The Ministry of Health will be sending out a press release around 1pm with all the latest delta case details from the past 24 hours.
It’s crucial information for Aucklanders as this is the last set of health data that will be considered by cabinet ahead of this afternoon’s alert level announcement. There is also the Waikato factor, with three people so far testing positive in the region after a remand prisoner crossed the border on bail.
I’ll have all the info as soon as it lands in my inbox so keep this page open and refreshed!
12.30pm: Opposition questions why prisoner was moved out of level four
The opposition is asking for more detail on how a remand prisoner was able to move from level four Auckland into a level two area while on electronic monitoring.
The prisoner was announced as a confirmed Covid-19 case yesterday, with three of their household contacts later testing positive as well.
In a statement, Act’s David Seymour said Aucklanders who haven’t been unable to leave during lockdown will feel let down by the government. “Most of us thought if you crossed the border illegally, you’d get arrested. Who knew that if you get arrested first, you can cross the border legally?” he said.
“This isn’t the court’s fault. They play by the rules parliament sets. The government just didn’t set any.”
National’s Simeon Brown and Chris Bishop have also raised objections, sharing almost identical Facebook posts about the issue.
“[Corrections minister] Kelvin Davis needs to explain why a remand prisoner was released on electronic monitoring from a level four area to a level two area,” said Brown. “People can’t get exemptions to leave Auckland to visit dying loved ones.”
12.10pm: Extremely Online – Welcome to the Game of Love
With the evolution of the internet and the emergence of dating apps, it seems that love really is a game. Learn all about how we’ve gamified love in the latest episode of Extremely Online, from the team at Shit You Should Care About.
11.25am: Locals flock to pop-up testing site in Waikato town
A pop-up Covid testing site has opened in Whakatīwai, the town now facing a potential delta Covid-19 outbreak.
The town has been linked to three new cases – two students and an adult – connected to a remand prisoner moved from Auckland.
The testing centre has been set up at the Wharewaka Marae and anyone with symptoms is asked to get tested. According to the Herald, about 40 cars are in the queue for the drive-through testing station with the line now snaking out onto the main road.
Among those waiting to get a test are people from the Mangatangi School community after one of the confirmed cases attended on two days last week.
10.20am: Waikato school officially linked to new Covid cases
A Waikato school linked to a case of Covid-19 has now been confirmed as a location of interest on two days last week.
A Covid-positive student visited Mangatangi School on both Wednesday and Thursday last week. It’s understood they were symptomatic on the Thursday.
Two students and one adult have now been linked to a remand prisoner moved to Waikato from locked down Auckland.
10.00am: Pop superstar announces NZ show… 14 months away
Chris Schulz reports:
Signs of life seem to be returning to New Zealand’s international touring scene with confirmation Dua Lipa will perform here next year.
The 26-year-old British pop star, who released one of last year’s most popular records in Future Nostalgia, will play Auckland’s Spark Arena on November 2, 2022. Yes, you read that right: next year. That’s 14 months away.
That might seem a long time to wait but Lipa’s announcement shows confidence is returning to the live international touring market in the face of lockdowns to curb the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19.
Other tours confirmed for next year include London Grammar and Backstreet Boys in March, Rod Stewart in April and Tyler, the Creator in July. Promoters will be hoping that closed borders, MIQ stays and virus concerns are a thing of the past when it’s time for Lipa’s tour.Overseas, vaccination passports have become mandatory for many music festivals and large scale concerts.
In a statement, Lipa said: “I am beyond excited to be bringing my world tour to New Zealand, it’s been way too long, but I promise, we are going to have one heck of a party.”
Her hit songs include Don’t Start Now, Levitate and Break My Heart. Tickets for Lipa’s show go on sale on Thursday at 2pm. Pre-sales begin on Wednesday at 1pm.
9.40am: Huge demand for MIQ rooms as ‘virtual lobby’ opens
The revamped managed isolation booking system has gone online this morning, with a “virtual lobby” opening at 8am.
Everyone who visits the MIQ website between 8am and 9am this morning NZT will be randomly assigned a place in the lobby. Then, from 9am, the doors will open and 3000 booking slots will be up for grabs.
It’s much like the system used for booking tickets to high demand concerts or events, except instead of missing out on a premium seat to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child you might not be able to travel home.
According to Twitter reports, at least 26,000 people made it to the virtual lobby ahead of the rooms being made available.
9.30am: Māori health group calls for Waikato to join Auckland in level four
A Māori health group is urging caution for today’s alert level decision.
The National Māori Pandemic Group told RNZ that Auckland should stay in alert level four – and be joined by Waikato.
Group co-leader Sue Crengle said Māori communities were more at risk from Covid. “At the moment we don’t know the extent of the outbreak in the Waikato – that will only become apparent in the next few days, couple of weeks – and there are many Māori communities in the upper North Island and we want to make sure they are protected as much as possible,” she said.
“We’ve got grave concerns that the upper North Island might be on the brink of a new wave of Covid-19, which if it was allowed to spread would seriously impact Māori communities in the region.”
8.40am: Auckland lockdown decision up in the air after Waikato Covid cases confirmed
While the deputy PM remained fairly coy this morning when asked whether Auckland will still leave level four this week, health experts have been quicker to admit the new Waikato cases are a major spanner in the works.
Epidemiologist Michael Baker told Stuff that cabinet now has another serious consideration when making their decision today. “There’s a lot of detail that has to come out about this case, but the big question is, how did he [the prisoner] get it?” he said. “The cautious approach would be to keep Auckland in lockdown for a little longer.”
It all came down to how infectious the children were while they were at school, he said.
“The trouble is that there’s been this resistance to use of masks in schools, and even school buses. And we’ve argued that all these indoor environments should be covered if you want alert level two to really work,” Baker said.
Immunologist Dianne Sika-Paotonu told TVNZ’s Breakfast that she now expected Auckland to stay in level four. “Sadly, this isn’t good news and it’s looking unlikely that Auckland may move out of alert level three easily,”she said. “In terms of extending the boundary out beyond Auckland at this time is also looking likely.”
8.00am: ‘Totally irresponsible’ to bail Auckland prisoner to Waikato, says mayor
The Waikato district mayor has hit out at the decision to bail an Auckland prisoner to an address outside of the level four lockdown.
All three of the new cases are household contacts of a Covid-positive prisoner who was moved from Auckland to the region. Two of the new cases are children who attended Mangatangi School – at least one while symptomatic – and the third is an adult.
Speaking to RNZ, Allan Sanson said the decision to transfer the prisoner out of Auckland was “totally irresponsible”.
“I think there are some serious questions to be answered … You don’t just move people across the border because it’s convenient to put them in an address to bail them to … This person has been in the community for well over a week. Not acceptable.”
Sanson said he would have expected someone who had been in Auckland to be bailed to somewhere within the region. “Why weren’t precautions taken in making sure he wasn’t carrying Covid with him,” he said. “Nobody else can come out of Auckland unless you’re an essential worker without being tests – so why wasn’t this man tested?”
7.45am: Alert level decision to be revealed as Covid confirmed in Waikato
The shock discovery of three new Covid-19 cases in Waikato may not prevent Auckland moving out of alert level four this afternoon.
Right now, everywhere outside of Auckland is in “delta level two” while those in the supercity remain in total lockdown until at least midnight tomorrow. The new cases are household contacts of a Covid-positive prisoner who tested positive on Friday night.
Asked on RNZ if the new cases outside level four would impact today’s call on whether to confirm the “in principle decision” to move to level three on Wednesday, Grant Robertson, deputy prime minister, said “not necessarily”, and that indications remained that there is “no widespread transmission”. Of the Waikato cases he said: “Preliminary indications are that there may be an epidemiological link to one of the clusters.”
On Newstalk ZB, Robertson said more information will emerge today on the new Waikato cases that will help inform cabinet’s decision. A move to alert level three while new cases were still appearing was not an admission the elimination strategy had failed. “You can still eliminate in a level three framework. Level three still has quite significant restrictions,” he said.
7.30am: From The Bulletin
Three test positive for Covid-19 in Waikato. The health ministry announced late last night that three people in the area around Kaiaua and Whakatīwai have tested positive, Stuff reports. They are the household members of a remand prisoner who left Mount Eden two weeks ago and was sent to the level two area. The prisoner tested positive on Friday on their return to Mount Eden. Two of the people in the household attended school last week. Experts warned RNZ that Auckland’s level four should be extended with Waikato now added.
Auckland’s alert level will be at the centre of attention today. Cabinet agreed last week that the city should move to level three on Wednesday, assuming the situation allows for it. That decisions will be reviewed today. Caroline McElnay, the director of public health, said she was “optimistic” at yesterday’s Beehive press conference, according to RNZ. It’s unclear how the new cases might change that.
The long tail of the outbreak continues to be an issue, with a stubbornly high number of cases reported daily. Since September 4, that daily case number has bounced between a dozen and two dozen new infections, with the exception of a big spike last Monday.
The Covid numbers: 24 new community cases were reported yesterday and 30% (6) of the previous day’s cases were active in the community while infectious. All the cases were in Auckland. 1050 cases have now been detected in the delta outbreak and 688 have recovered. 53,386 people were vaccinated on Saturday.
The Spinoff’s Covid data tracker has the latest figures.
Auckland’s long lockdown is starting to fray nerves. Stuff reports that since August 2020 the country’s biggest city has been placed in a cycle of restrictions that have put a heavy burden on Aucklanders. Some are starting to crack. Police warned that locals were breaking level four rules and took to the city’s beaches over the weekend, while more people were charged after heading south. Along with people intercepted trying to drive through paddocks around checkpoints, two different couples were arrested after travelling illegally to Taupō and Wellington over the weekend.
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