Little Guidance on Level Mixing

Jacinda Ardern was pleased to announce the shift down in Alert Levels on Monday, she credited Kiwis doing the right thing for the shift and the announcement was made after there were no new cases of coronavirus in the community.

The rest of the country has already moved down to Level 1 with Auckland shifting to Level 2 (from 2.5) at 11.59pm on Wednesday 23 September. Here’s a reminder of what the Level changes mean:

New Zealand, excluding Auckland:

  • In Alert Level 1, people need to be ready in case COVID-19 reappears in the community.
  • Restrictions remain at the border for people entering New Zealand and everyone is required to be in managed isolation for 14 days.
  • If people are sick, they are expected to stay home and get tested if they have cold or flu symptoms.
  • Maintaining good hygiene is important, as well as continuing to wear face coverings.
  • People are expected to continue keeping track of where they have been and who they have been with.
  • Maintaining social distance in public is also encouraged.

Auckland Alert Level 2:

  • Alert level 2 for Auckland will see maximum numbers increased to 100 people for social gatherings such as weddings, birthdays, funerals and tangihanga.
  • Aucklanders will still need to stay home if sick, keep track of where they’ve been and who they have seen and keep a distance of two metres from people in public.
  • Face coverings will remain mandatory on public transport and planes and encouraged in public.

Ardern said Auckland’s alert level will be reviewed in 14 days and any changes will happen on October 7.

What the government hasn’t advised on is what businesses are supposed to do when Level 2 Aucklanders visit their Level 1 establishments, school holidays are coming up and many Aucklanders will be travelling outside the region.

Ardern said Aucklanders should take their Alert Level restrictions with them when they leave the region. This means keeping a distance of two metres from people in public and wearing face coverings on public transport, but how will these restrictions be enforced?

The overwhelming feeling from hospitality business owners, both in and outside Auckland, is that they are not responsible for making Kiwis stick to COVID restrictions.

“They have to stick to their group of 100 but who’s going to stop them or know when they’ve left Auckland?” Commented one café owner. “Seems pointless us being Level 1 and them Level 2 really.”

“We are not the police and have no authority to enforce the rules,” said another.

Some in hospitality and foodservice industry throughout the country are wary of Aucklanders coming to their town, which has caused some anti-Auckland rhetoric on social media. Most of this could be quashed with some guidance from the government and specific advice on how the different Alert Levels are supposed to co-exist.

So far, however, the hospitality industry has once again been left to figure out these answers on their own and it appears that most are simply fed-up with the different restrictions and the constant bouncing from one Alert Level to another.

Perhaps it is time for the New Zealand government to put their foot down and create real COVID guidelines for ALL Kiwis to follow, with real consequences if they do not. Let’s take the pressure off the Kiwi hospitality industry that has already been through enough.