Auckland is currently in Alert Level 4, while the rest of New Zealand are under Alert Level 2 rules until September 13th. The country is battling its toughest fight against COVID-19 after the first contact of the Delta outbreak was recorded on 17 August.
For at least a whole week, the whole country was put in Alert Level 4. This time frame is used for more rigorous testing and contact tracing of possible positive cases, even beyond the locations of interest where positive cases have travelled. Thanks to these health measures, some regions were demoted to Alert Level 3, and eventually Alert Level 2.
Before the outbreak, we were on a 107-day streak without community transmission. Yet again, we proved effective in our response as daily positive cases are now in constant decline.
As a refresher, these are the protocols and rules according to each Alert Level.
|Alert Level||Restrictions||Sport, exercise, and recreation||Gatherings||Cafes, bars, restaurants and nightclubs
|Level 4||Very High||Allowed in local area only.**||Not allowed||Closed|
|Level 3||High||Allowed in local area only.||Only weddings, civil union, funerals, and tangihanga are allowed, with up to 10 people.||
Open, but no dine-in.
Only for contactless pick-up, delivery, or drive through.
Team sports are limited:
Only 50 people indoors.
Only 100 people outdoors.
Only 50 people indoors.
Only 100 people outdoors.
No limits on the number of people you can exercise with.
No restrictions for both indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Open as normal.***
*Allowed, but safety measures are observed.
**Observe a 2-metre distance from others.
***Use the COVID Tracer App when you can.
Alert Level 4 is the highest restriction that the NZ government has set to fight COVID-19. It’s a total lockdown, meaning that staying home within your bubble is enforced at all times. Movements outside the home are only allowed for:
For those living alone, they may arrange a bubble with other people also living alone. Do note that only one bubble arrangement is allowed.
When leaving the household bubble, a physical distancing of 2 metres must be observed at all times. Face coverings must also be worn at all times unless you have a disability or health condition indicated in your exemption card.
Essential services like dairies, pharmacies, and food banks operate on a strict “one-in, one-out” policy. Petrol stations may serve ready-to-eat food but they can’t serve food that needs to be prepared, packaged, or consumed on-site.
Supermarkets continue to operate with strict physical distancing measures. Grocery and whole-food delivery services are allowed as long as the food is not pre-cooked and payments must be contactless. Takeaways are non-operational.
Rubbish collection, postal services, parcel deliveries, and self-service laundromats continue to operate. Public transportation is available but limited only to essential personal movements.
Public gatherings such as faith-based gatherings, funerals and tangihanga, birthdays, weddings, and education aren’t allowed for whatever reason. However, faith-based gatherings can be live-streamed from the place of worship.
Recreations such as walks, runs, or bike rides are allowed only within the community. Driving in a place to exercise is allowed, but it should be close to where you live. Activities that may possibly lead to emergencies such as swimming, surfing, boating, hunting, or tramping are extremely discouraged.
People over the age of 70 or those who have preexisting conditions are not allowed to go out of the home. They should assign other people in the household to pick up essential supplies and leave them at the door to follow social distancing and sanitary guidelines.
If they live alone or in a retirement home, the Ministry of Health has updated information on how to create a bubble system or buddies during Alert Level 4.
Alert Level 3 imposes more lenient restrictions on your bubble. While bubbles are allowed even outside the household, they should still be limited to close family members, isolated people, and caregivers. Keeping the bubble small is important. Under this Alert Level, Kiwis can:
Your friends, whanau, and extended family that are not part of your bubble shouldn’t be invited into your home, even if they’re fully vaccinated.
When in public places, Kiwis must wear face masks at all times and observe a physical distance of 2 metres. For controlled environments such as family and faith-based gatherings, it’s okay to keep a 1-metre physical distance. Nonetheless, you should observe wearing masks in:
Essential businesses and services where interaction is essential can accommodate customers. However, the prescribed physical distance must be observed at all times. These essential services include:
Takeaways, cafes, and restaurants can operate for contactless orders, either through pick-up, delivery, or drive-through. Dining in isn’t allowed.
While you can go out to purchase essential items, it’s recommended that you assign other people to do it for you. If you don’t have other people in your bubble to do it for you, you can do it yourself, although highly discouraged.
You can also get in-home essential care at home during Alert Level 3, but some services may be limited to reduce the risks of COVID-19 transmission.
Alert Level 2 lessens the restrictions of who can be in your household bubble. Even your friends, whanau, and extended family can now be part of your household bubble. Almost all facilities return back to normal, but certain precautions are still needed to be followed.
While face masks aren’t required especially for controlled areas, it’s still encouraged to wear face masks in public places. Keeping at least a 2-metre physical distance is advisable but a 1-metre distance will do.
Essential and non-essential services can fully operate, as long as they follow the health protocols set by the government. This includes wearing face masks and keeping a 2-metre distance from one another unless they're family or friends.
While restrictions become more lenient, it’s still highly recommended to use the NZ COVID Tracer App. Most businesses now make it a requirement before you enter the stops, but it’s best to do it on your own accord. This has proven to be an effective tool in tracing where the first contact of the Delta variant went.
While people at risk can freely move around to buy essential and non-essential items, they should still follow public health protocols such as observing physical distancing and wearing face masks. If you can, keep your trips outside as short and contactless as possible.
Most especially for high-risk people, they should always disinfect whenever possible. Wash hands frequently and avoid touching items when outside.
Alert Level 1 is where everything in the community is back to normal. All businesses, schools, and agencies have come back to normal. Although they may still be new cases in the border facilities, community cases are contained.
Wearing face masks is legally required on public transport. This applies to trains, buses, trams, and domestic flights. In taxis and ride-sharing services, face masks aren’t required but highly encouraged.
Also, keeping track of all the places you’ve gone still remains crucial, if ever an outbreak is to happen at any moment.
While it’s not mandatory to observe physical distancing, it’s encouraged to keep a safe distance from other people that you don’t know. This minimises the risk of contracting the virus from possibly asymptomatic cases.
As the possibility of transmission is very minimal and an outbreak is very unlikely to happen, even people at risk can move freely. Bubbles can be as large as you want, even including acquaintances from your church, gyms, and more.
As with anything, maintaining good hygiene is important. This keeps you less vulnerable, not only from COVID-19 but also from common diseases like colds, cough, and fever. If COVID-19 reappears in the community, this should shield you from getting infected.
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