Local Government COVID-19 Response Update – Thursday 7 October 2021

Local Government Response Unit main page

Here’s today’s update

The Government announced that more parts of Waikato will move to Alert Level 3 from tonight at 11:59pm, Thursday, 7 October 2021.

The new Waikato Alert Level 3 area includes the Waitomo District, including Te Kuiti, as well as the Waipa and Ōtorohanga districts.  These join the previously notified areas that included Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia and Hamilton City.

These areas of the Waikato will be in Alert Level 3 until 11:59pm on Monday, 11 October 2021.

An updated map is available at this website: Alert Level boundary map | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

Auckland remains at Alert Level 3. Small changes to Alert Level 3 settings for Auckland (Step 1) came into effect on Tuesday 11.59pm 5 October 2021 (see details below). All other restrictions continue to apply.

The Step 1 easing of the restrictions for Auckland do not apply in the Waikato Alert Level 3 area.

The Alert Level settings will be reviewed by Cabinet on Monday 11 October 2021.

Yesterday we updated our guidance for council services and operations under Alert Level settings. The guidance is available on the Local Government Response Unit webpage.

If councils identify any issues when using the guidance, please provide feedback to the Response Unit.

Webinars on the COVID-19 vaccination campaign

The Ministry of Health (MoH) is doing a big push for vaccinations on Super Saturday – 16 October. Councils will be invited to participate by encouraging their communities to get vaccinated.

MoH will be running a webinar for council communications staff at 1:30-2:00pm tomorrow (Friday 8 October) on how to get involved: Click here to join the meeting at 1:30pm Friday 8 October.

MoH and LGNZ, with the support of Taituarā, are also teaming up next Wednesday, 13 October, for a webinar on vaccine hesitancy and how to overcome barriers at a regional level. Invites are on their way – or get in touch with LGNZ on info@lgnz.co.nz if you want to know more.

Information on current cases, COVID-19 test sites and economic support

There are 29 new cases of COVID-19 in the community, 24 in Auckland and 5 in Waikato. 22 of today’s cases have been epidemiologically linked to existing cases.

Available testing sites can be found here on the Ministry of Health website: Available testing sites (Covid-19 website).

Locations of interest can be found Locations of Interest (Ministry of Health website), and is being updated as soon as information is available.

Economic assistance is available for those impacted by the lockdown, more information available on the COVID-19 website.

3-step plan to ease Alert Level 3 restrictions in Auckland

On Monday, 4 October 2021, the Prime Minister announced a 3-step plan to ease restrictions for Alert Level 3 settings in Auckland.

Step 1 began from 11.59pm on Tuesday, 5 October 2021 and includes the following changes:

Outdoor gatherings between 2 households can go ahead, with a maximum of 10 people attending.

Outdoor exercise classes can go ahead but are limited to 10 people, from as many as 10 bubbles, with 2 metre physical distancing.

Early childhood education centres can reopen.

People can travel throughout the Auckland region to do an expanded range of outdoor recreation activities. People can only travel to Waiheke Island or Great Barrier Island (Aotea Island) if they are a resident on either of the islands.

Step 2 changes will include:

Retail can operate with face coverings and physical distancing requirements.

Public facilities can open with face coverings and physical distancing requirements.

The outdoor gathering limit increases to 25 people.

Step 3 changes will include:

Hospitality venues, like cafes, bars, and restaurants, can reopen with a limit of 50 people

Event facilities (e.g. cinemas, casinos, and theatres) can open with a limit of 50 people in a defined space, wearing face coverings and 2-metre physical distancing

Close contact businesses, like hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons, can reopen, with workers wearing face coverings

Cabinet will review weekly any move to the next step.

Schools can reopen from 18 October 2021, depending on public health advice. Cabinet will decide closer to the time.

A summary of the Alert Level Setting Changes for Auckland is available on the Unite against COVID-19 website: Alert Level advice for Auckland | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

Travel for work in and out of the Waikato Alert Level 3 area

People can travel in and out of the Waikato Alert Level 3 area for limited permitted reasons. This includes for work in permitted business and services.

People can also cross into the Waikato Alert Level 3 area from an Alert Level 2 area to work in any business or service which is open in the Alert Level 3 area.

People cannot cross from the Waikato Alert Level 3 area to work in an Alert Level 2 area, except for work in permitted businesses and services.

People travelling in and out of the Waikato Alert Level 3 area — other than across the boundary with Auckland — are not required to provide evidence of a recent test.

A formal business travel document is not required however the Government recommends to source a letter from an employer confirming place of work and need to travel.

There is no prescribed period for people to travel home, but travel should be restricted to what is essential to avoid unnecessary contact.

Further advice on permitted travel in out of the Waikato Alert Level 3 is available here: Waikato | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

You can view the Boundary Map for the Waikato Alert Level 3 area here: Alert Level boundary map | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

New QR code requirements

Three new requirements for display of QR code posters come into effect at 11.59pm on Tuesday 5 October.

New changes to QR poster display requirements will mean additional copies of a COVID-19 QR code will need to be displayed in other places throughout businesses and locations that are already required to display them. This is in addition to an already required QR code displayed at the main entrance.

QR code posters are now also required to kept in a good condition, this limits the risk that scanning doesn’t take place if posters are faded or damaged or difficult to scan in on.

The QR code must not be altered in a way that makes it unclear that it has been issued by the NZ Government for the purposes of contact tracing. Businesses and locations must use the official COVID-19 QR code posters issued by the Ministry of Health. This also ensures people know the QR code they are scanning links to the COVID tracer app and is for contact tracing purposes.

Public transport operators are also included and will need to display additional copies of QR codes. This is in addition to the existing requirement to display a copy in a prominent place on or inside any vehicle. Vehicles with five or fewer seats including taxis and ride shares are exempt from displaying additional copies.

Epidemic notice remains in force

The Epidemic notice was renewed on 8 September 2021 and will remain in place for three months. More information of the provisions in the notice are outlined in previous Response Unit updates, which can be viewed on the Local Government Response Unit webpage.