Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced in today's post-cabinet press conference that the Cabinet has decided all New Zealand, outside of any Alert Level 4 or 3 region, will remain at Level 2 restriction settings. This includes the South Island which has had no positive cases for over 500 days now.
Auckland will stay in Level 3 with the current restrictions in place for at least the next two weeks. The region has been under restrictions in either Level 4 or 3 for the last 62 days.
Image: CC/ Ministry of Health
“If we get this right, if we keep case numbers low while we vaccinate people. Then it makes it easier for us to keep control of [the virus] while we ease restrictions in the future. That is everyone's goal,” Prime Minister Ardern said.
“The Level 3 restrictions in Auckland are currently the toughest in place anywhere in the OECD at the moment, according to the Oxford Stringency Index. These are not soft rules.”
“A number of respected scientists and epidemiologists have suggested a return to Level 4 for a defined two-week lockdown to act as a circuit breaker and limit the number of cases while our vaccinations take hold and strengthen our immunity.”
“The public health advice, including from teams on the ground, and from Dr Ashley Bloomfield, is that more weeks at Level 4 is unlikely at this stage to reduce the number of cases significantly because of the nature of the outbreak and the fact that compliance has been an issue.”
Cabinet considered the advice from both sides, but took into account various factors surrounding the wellbeing of Aucklanders when making the decision.
Prime Minister Ardern added; the increase in restriction levels would “not necessarily reduce cases significantly more than the Level 3 restrictions” already in place.
Image: CC/Facebook- Matthew Tukaki
Earlier today — Matthew Tukaki, Chair of the National Māori Authority, suggested opening the country back up to the world as long as high vaccination rates are achieved. Though, vaccinating Māori households is one of the top priorities to ensure the Delta variant of the virus does not spread further.
“We have enjoyed more freedoms, fewer deaths and greater domestic movement. Our economy has largely weathered a storm with unemployment much lower than predicted and net debt not being as high as some economists predicted. Our health system to date has not been overwhelmed and we have not faced the tens of thousands of deaths many others have. Death has not visited our door as it has other countries,” Tukaki said.
“Our struggle to convince some to get vaccinated, [means] we may have become a little complacent. A little like the golden weather wasn’t going to end and we’d come out the other side smelling of roses.”
“That is why it’s time for a change. To refocus our efforts at looking at the steps and measures needed to open up domestically and then, ultimately in 2022, internationally.”
“We need to throw everything we can, including the kitchen sink, at getting our vaccination levels up — the ticket to additional freedoms. But let’s be clear here – we cannot be left behind and whatever plan the government comes up with we need to back it in.”
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