Perhaps it was too good to be true? Just two days after passing the landmark of 100 days without any community transmission of COVID-19, New Zealand now has four such cases and is going back into lockdown mode.
Auckland thus goes into Level 3 lockdown from noon today (Wednesday), while the rest of the country goes to Level 2.
PM and DG of Health make announcement
The announcement was made on Tuesday evening by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield. A message was also sent to the mobile phones of New Zealanders, advising them of the situation.
Level 3 in the Auckland Super City means that most schools will close unless they have students whose parents are essential workers. Bars and restaurants will close, but food outlets may remain open for takeaways.
Businesses can open but should not physically interact with customers, and employees should work from home where possible. Pharmacies, supermarkets and essential businesses remain open.
Public transport will continue to operate, but with strict protocols. Public facilities such as libraries, museums, cinemas, gyms and playgrounds must close.
Lockdown in force until midnight on Friday
These alert levels and their relevant restrictions are scheduled to remain in force until midnight on Friday.
According to Bloomfield, the measures are necessary as four members of the same family have tested positive for COVID-19. The infections were acquired from an unknown source as there has been no contact with a person from overseas or in managed isolation.
The original infection is an Auckland man in his ‘50s and three out of six members of his family have subsequently also tested positive.
Bloomfield said it was likely there would be other cases as authorities didn’t know the source of the infection.
Don’t be disheartened or dispirited, PM pleads
In her address, Ardern said authorities were asking people to stay home to stop the spread. “Act as if you have COVID and as though people around you have COVID,” she said.
“We have come too far to go backwards. Be strong and be kind.
“We know what to do because we have successfully done this before. My request is not to be dispirited or disheartened.”