Wellington Scoop

We’re back at Level One

Wellington returns to Level One from midnight.

The move was announced today by the Prime Minister. Auckland will be held at Level Two, while the rest of the country moves to Level One.

For all planes going to or from or through Auckland, face masks will be required. The Prime Minister is encouraging passengers to wear masks on other flights. Air New Zealand will continue to require passengers to wear masks on all its flights.

Masks will continue to be compulsory on buses and trains in Auckland – and recommended elsewhere.

For Auckland to move to level 1, the city will need to maintain its downward trajectory of cases with no surprises. The Prime Minister said: “Essentially Auckland needs more time. Whilst we have reasonable confidence that we are on the right track, there is still a need in Auckland for that cautious approach, this was the center of the outbreak and that is why that caution is required here.

“However, our view is that, when it comes to the rest of the country, given that we have not seen that regional spread we have enough confidence to lift restrictions outside Auckland.”

She made a plea to those outside Auckland: “Don’t assume that your symptoms are nothing, please if you are unwell and you have those cold or flu like symptoms to still get a test. That helps us maintain that level of confidence that we have contained things.

“We have large scale events scheduled for the rest of the month outside Auckland. I’ve asked MBIE to reach out to those organisers, make sure they are using the Covid tracer app, that they have good details kept of those in attendance and where they are seated, so there is a code of conduct in place that we will be asking those large scale event organisers to be abiding by.”

Report from RNZ
The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says one of the major factors that will affect border control measures in place would be a vaccine.

“I can now report ministers have agreed to enter a legally-binding agreement for the auction to purchase approved Covid-19 vaccines for up to 50 percent of the New Zealand population, Tokelau, Cook Islands and Niue.”

This would take place through the global Covax facility, Ardern says.

“This is one of a number of key steps that will be taken to ensure New Zealanders have access to safe and secure Covid-19 vaccine when one becomes available.”

An initial $27m investment – from the Covid-19 response and recovery fund – would help accelerate the production of any vaccines on a global level, and give New Zealand the option to purchase from a diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates should any prove successful, Ardern says.

“By supporting the Covax facility, we also demonstrate our commitment to ensuring vulnerable communities everywhere including the Pacific receive the vaccines they need.”

More would be invested as the vaccine strategy is rolled out, she says.

But on speaking the likelihood of travel bubbles swith the Pacific and Australia before a vaccine is developed, Ardern said they were still working on the viability of those options.

“We prioritised obviously the Cook Islands, they are still in a good place they are waiting for us to get back into a good place.

“Likewise with Australia, we haven’t put any timelines on it, but so long as they get into a position where they are free of community transmission that could be an option that would be back on the table.”