Jacinda Ardern has announced that the country will remain at the current Alert Levels; Level 2.5 in Auckland and Level 2 for the rest of New Zealand.
Cabinet will review the Alert Levels again on Monday 21 September. For Auckland this would mean any changes, such as an increase in gathering numbers, would go into effect the following Wednesday.
For the rest of the country, the Prime Minister announced that in principle, they would move down to Alert Level 1 at 11.59pm on Monday 21, provided case numbers have not increased.
The government has lifted social distancing measures for public transport – a relief for Air New Zealand which has been struggling with limited passenger numbers. Ardern noted that it was mask-wearing that was key in this decision making and the wearing of face coverings remains mandatory on public transport under Alert Level 2.
Ardern cautioned that rushing into Alert Level 1 could have ongoing harmful effects on the New Zealand economy if we continue to bounce up and down levels.
Auckland hospitality will have to struggle on with Level 2.5 restrictions for at least another week.
“Whilst we’re disappointed to be spending more time at level 2.5 in Auckland we’re not surprised at the decision that has been made. We are however disappointed and surprised to see the rest of the country remaining at Level 2 as we know how challenging the Level 2 guidelines are for our industry," commented Restaurant Association CEO, Marisa Bidois.
“We continue to engage with government on action needed to assist our struggling businesses. In the absence of certainty and clarity, we are calling for the government to work with us to adapt the current operational guidelines for our industry at each level as the guidelines we are currently working under are making it increasingly difficult for our businesses to be viable.
We also continue to call for targeted assistance to compensate our businesses who through no fault of their own are experiencing significantly reduced revenues. We met with treasury last week to discuss some of the ideas we’ve put on the table such as our Dine Out To Help Out scheme as well as additional fiscal relief as this pandemic continues to disrupt our lives. ”