Government Alert Level Update: August 24

A short extension to Alert Level 3 in Auckland has been announced by Jacinda Ardern.

Alert Level 3 will be extended in the Auckland region until 11.59pm Sunday 30 August 2020 when it will shift back down to Alert Level 2, restrictions on mass gatherings will remain under the lower level.

The rest of the country will remain under Level 2 restrictions. These two settings will be reviewed on Sunday the 6th of September. 

Cabinet has also decided to mandate the use of masks on public transport for Level 2 and above throughout the country. They assured that it was a difficult decision but felt it necessary considering the evidence being gathered on their effectiveness to help stop the spread of community transmission of the virus.

As it will be mandated, entry to public transport will only be allowed with face coverings under Alert Level 2 and above and the rules will also apply to ride-sharing services such as Uber. Public Transport operators will have the right to refuse service to those without a face covering.

Ardern advised that there are many options for face coverings, despite income and the possibility of a mass buying spree after today’s announcement. She encouraged Kiwis to look on the Ministry of Health’s COVID website for the best advice on these options.

The Prime Minister also assured that the government is constantly taking into account the cost of restrictions to businesses and has made decisions with this and the greater cost to the economy in mind. No specific help for the hospitality or tourism industries was mentioned, she did note that some businesses who were not previously eligible for the initial 8 week Wage Subsidy Extension may be eligible now.

“There is no denying that the price Aucklanders are currently paying is the greatest,” expressed Ardern.

“I want to say, that even though many of us haven’t been in the city, or haven’t experienced the second round of Level Three – we know it’s been tough. I know there are many who have found it harder this time.”

“I want to thank Aucklanders for their patience and sacrifice to date, I know it hasn’t been easy, but we need to continue doing what we know works,” said Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff in a statement.

“We’ve seen from cities such as Melbourne how quickly COVID-19 cases can escalate if strong measures are not followed through, and the high death rates and increased economic pain this can cause. Allowing the virus to gain a foothold in Auckland would risk significant loss of life among some of our most vulnerable communities and would also have severe economic impacts and effects on already struggling businesses.

We need to stamp out this latest outbreak as quickly as possible so that we are not forced into a worse situation later. Please continue to follow all the government guidelines around physical distancing, hand-washing, and keeping track of your movements with the NZ COVID Tracer app.”

Adern confirmed that the weekly cost to the Auckland economy is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.