Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

What life will be like under alert level one

Jacinda Ardern has unveiled details of the changes New Zealanders can expect when we move from level two to level one. What will it mean for businesses, hospitality and day-to-day life? 

Level one! At last, life is finally back to normal.

Not so fast. We’re still in level two, and will be for at least a week. Today’s statement by the prime minister only set out the rules for level one, not when we will actually make the move. That will be announced on Monday.

But still, when it does arrive, level one means the end of Covid-19 restrictions, right?

We can’t quite believe we’re saying this, but basically – yes. Things won’t look exactly the same as in the Before Times, but once we move into level one Covid-19 will probably have only a very minor impact on your day to day life. We’ll get to those changes in a moment but let’s start with the good news, and there’s a lot of it.

Can we go to school or work as normal?

Yes, with no restrictions on physical distancing whatsoever.

Can we go to restaurants, cafes and bars?

Yes. With the end of physical distancing requirements, hospitality providers will no longer need to leave tables empty or indeed follow any of the ‘three S’ rules – that patrons must be seated, separated, and served by a single member of staff.

Can we attend large events, for example sporting or music events?

Yes. People can attend events of any size, indoor or outside. The government is currently working with ticketing agencies and large scale event organisers on a “Covid code” for contact tracing specifically for large events.

Will there be any physical distancing on planes and public transport?

Nope. Transport providers can carry as many passengers as they like.

Church services?

Back to normal.

Funerals and tangihanga?

No restrictions of any kind.

Community sport?

Go for it.

So how will life be different from normal?

The biggest change, by far, is that our current strict border controls will stay in place. A focus on hand hygiene and enhanced contact tracing will also be part of our lives for the foreseeable future.

Today Jacinda Ardern also announced the 10 “golden rules” for life under level one. They are:

  • If you’re sick, stay home.
  • If you have cold or flu-like symptoms, get tested.
  • Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.
  • Sneeze or cough into your elbow and regularly disinfect shared surfaces.
  • If you’re told by health authorities to self-isolate, do so immediately.
  • If you’re concerned about your wellbeing or have underlying health conditions, work with your GP to understand how best to stay healthy.
  • Keep track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen to help contact tracing if required – keep using the NZ Covid Tracer app.
  • Businesses should help people keep track of movement by displaying a Covid Tracer app QR code.
  • Stay vigilant – there’s still a global pandemic going on – and be prepared to step up alert levels if we have to.
  • Be kind to others and yourself.

Sorry, I forgot. When do we move to level one?

Right now we don’t know. The decision will be made at Cabinet on Monday and announced by the prime minister straight after. The government has previously given 48 hours’ notice of an alert level shift, so if Monday’s announcement is positive we’ll likely move to level one at 11.59pm on Wednesday night. But this is all speculation at this stage.



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