Expert Says Keep Bars And Restaurants Closed at Delta Level 2

A public health expert has welcomed New Zealand's reinforced level 2 but argues 'high risk' venues like bars and restaurants should remain closed for now.

Under Delta Level 2, face masks are mandatory inside most public venues but can be removed for eating and drinking. New rules on scanning also applied at level 2 - mandatory scanning at anywhere where there is close contact between people.

Outdoor venues are limited to 100 people, whilst hospitality and event venues are restricted to 50 people.

Otago University's Professor Nick Wilson said the Government could have imposed more comprehensive indoor mask requirements, along with keeping places like pubs, restaurants, gyms, and churches closed at level 2.

Wilson argued more attention was also needed to tighten the border around Auckland.

He argued all essential workers crossing the border should be vaccinated, and rapid antigen tests should be done at border crossings.

Maintaining high levels of testing in the community and expanding wastewater testing are needed to accelerate infection control in Auckland.

Dr Dion O'Neale also said the new measures would help reduce potential spread, but even 50 people could easily generate lots of cases. For testing workers travelling the Auckland border, speed and frequency will be key.

O'Neale said identifying infectious people crossing the border as quickly as possible will minimise possible transmission. Finding someone infections after they've left Auckland and trying to track all their movements before cases development is not nearly as foolproof as returning tests quickly enough to stop those exposures in the first place.

The downward trend in cases is promising, and if we keep doing what we're doing, we have a chance of stamping out this outbreak just as we did the first one. However, there is still work to be done, and the biggest threat to us is relaxing too soon.