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Breaking News - What Alert Level 3 will look like

April 16, 2020

COVID-19 is a challenge like we have never seen before.Our goal is to eliminate COVID-19 from New Zealand, so that we can live and work free from this disease. This is the best thing we can do for our people, our communities, and our economy.

We attacked the disease early and hard by going into lockdown or Alert Level 4. This has put us in a good position to eliminate the disease, bank those gains and to get ready to transition to Alert Level 3. When this decision is made, it will be because we have transmission under control and can tolerate a little more risk.

Getting this far has required a collective effort by every New Zealander. We are all making extraordinary sacrifices to protect the people, communities, businesses and traditions we care about. Thank you.

We will not risk going to Alert Level 3 too early. We will move when we have met four criteria:

  • We know that community transmission is under control, and the transmission rate is very low.
  • We have robust measures at the border stopping new infection.
  • We have tracing and testing capacity to shut down any new outbreak.
  • We have supplies for, and capacity, in the health system.

It is vital that everyone knows we are still under Alert Level 4, and all Alert Level 4 restrictions remain in place.

Under Alert Level Three we will still have significant restrictions on our day-to-day lives. The risk of COVID-19 will have diminished, but not gone away. If we are successful in controlling COVID-19 under Alert Level 3 we will be able to move down to Alert Level 2, where there are far fewer restrictions.

Personal movement

Limiting our interactions with others is our best defence against COVID-19. Under Alert Level 3 we must continue to stay in our household bubbles whenever we are not at work, school, buying the groceries or exercising.

People must stay within their immediate household bubble, but can expand this to reconnect with close family / whanau, or bring in caregivers, or support isolated people. It’s important to protect your bubble once it’s been extended. Keep your bubble exclusive and only include people where it will keep you and them safe and well. If anyone within your bubble feels unwell, they self-isolate from everyone else within your bubble.

If you were in the wrong place when the restrictions came into place, and need to get home, you can now move throughout New Zealand to do so. You can only move once, and in one direction. New Zealanders can move to or from the Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau once, and in one direction.

Recreation

We know that exercise and recreation is an important part of staying mentally and physically healthy. However, we have to be very careful about the way we do this to avoid spreading the disease.

The most important principals here are to stay close to home, stay two metres away from people not in your bubble, and don’t do activity that could get you hurt and require medical care or rescuing (putting essential workers at risk).

You can do activities that are local, which you can do safely, and which do not involve interacting with other people, or equipment touched by other people. You should go to your nearest beach or park, not your favourite one. Staying overnight at a bach or holiday home is not permitted.

Education

Under Alert Level 3 it will be safe for Early Learning / Education Centres and schools to open for children up to and including year 10, with appropriate public health measures in place. All young people in years 11-13 will continue to learn at home.

Physical attendance at school is voluntary, but all children not at school should be learning by distance. Schools will be a safe place for children to go to learn if their parents need to return to work, or the children cannot learn at a distance. Children who are able to, should remain home and learn via distance.

Schools and Early Learning / Education Centres will contact parents as they work through their plans for re-opening.

Home based early learning services can resume up to the maximum number of licensed children of 4 including the educators own children, provided public health requirements are met.

Play centres and play groups will be closed.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like gloves and masks are not necessary for a school environment. Children, young people and staff who are at greater risk are encouraged to stay at home. Any child, young person or staff member who is sick should remain at home.

It will take at least a week for Schools and Early Learning Services to get ready to open after we go to Alert Level 3.

Most tertiary education will be through distance learning. Tertiary education facilities may open for limited activities involving small stable groups (up to 10 people who do not change). Campus research that can’t be done off campus such as lab work, and practical hands on learning, such as trades courses, where the learning can happen in small groups with appropriate physical distancing. Courses where close contact is unavoidable will remain online only.

Workers and businesses

Most, but not all businesses can start to open under Alert Level 3. They must take health measures to keep their workers safe.

  • Workers must work from home if they can
  • Workplaces must operate safely – keeping one metre between workers, recording who is working together, limiting interaction between groups of workers, disinfecting surfaces, and maintaining high hygiene standards
  • Retail and hospitality businesses can only open for delivery and contactless pre-ordered pick up – customers cannot enter stores
  • Supermarkets, dairies and petrol stations can continue to allow customers into their stores, with the same restrictions and measures in place as Alert Level 4
  • Businesses cannot offer services which involve face-to-face contact or sustained close contact (e.g. hairdressing, massage, house cleaning, or door-to-door salespeople)
  • Other in home services can be delivered if it is safe to do so (like tradespeople for repairs or installations) – keep two metre separation from those in the house
  • Most workers will not require PPE to stay safe at work. Incorrectly used PPE can create more risk. Good hygiene measures like hand washing with soap and water, physical distancing, sneeze and cough etiquette, and wiping down surfaces is the best defence against COVID-19.

More detailed guidance for sectors will be made over the coming days.

Travel and transport

Travel is still restricted, and is only allowed for permitted movement in your local area – e.g. for going to work or school, shopping, or getting exercise.

Public transport will still be available. You can use it to travel to work or school, but be aware there will be limited capacity. You should sit 2 metres away from other people on public transport.

Regional travel is allowed for permitted movement, with some exceptions.Other travel should not be undertaken. The risk of transmitting the disease is too high. This is not a time to take a holiday, travel between regions to celebrate birthdays or travel from one side of a city to the other to go to a supermarket when there is a suitable one in your local area.

Gatherings

Gatherings prevent a very high risk of transmitting COVID-19, and acceptable gatherings are very limited. Up to 10 people can gather for:

  • Funerals and tangihanga
  • Wedding ceremonies (not receptions).

At risk people

People at higher-risk of severe illness (older people, or those with underlying medical conditions) are encouraged to stay home where possible, and take additional precautions when leaving home, like avoiding supermarkets, or touching any surfaces. Do not interact with people from outside your bubble. Consider getting others to deliver your supermarket shop, or ordering online.

People at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should take extra precautions. They should discuss with their employer whether they can work from home, or other ways to keep them safe while at work and travelling to work. If they decide to stay at home, and cannot work from home they should agree with their employer what their leave and pay arrangements will be.

If at risk people considering leaving their home should seek advice before doing so – for example from a friend, family member or medical professional.

Staying safe and well

At every alert level people should take measures to stay safe and well.

  • Regularly disinfect surfaces
  • Wash and dry your hands thoroughly and regularly
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Get tested for COVID-19 if you have flu like symptoms – call your GP or Healthline
  • Continue to seek primary medical care.

Click on the link for full details of the Alert Level 3 information or click on the link for the updated Alert Levels Summary