22 Sep 2020

Covid-19: Government considered restricting Auckland gatherings to 50 - Ardern

From Morning Report, 7:23 am on 22 September 2020

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Alert Level delay for Auckland is down to the fact Cabinet had to decide whether to allow gatherings of up to 50 or 100 during Alert Level 2.

She announced on Monday all of New Zealand except Auckland will go to Alert Level 1 at midnight that night, while Auckland will be waiting until Wednesday before its extra restrictions are dropped, and it goes to Alert Level 2 proper.

"We were able to draft orders to the rest of the country pre-emptively because we were fairly clear on where we would be heading with Level 1 for the rest of the country," Ardern said.

"It was unclear until we just made sure we've got all of the data on whether or not we would move mass gatherings for Auckland to 50 or 100 and so that takes those 48 hours from the point that Cabinet makes the decision."

Auckland had been at what was dubbed "Alert Level 2.5" due extra restrictions on gathering.

Ardern also defended not implementing an "Alert Level 1.5", which had been suggested by some epidemiologists.

She said she had received advice on adding restrictions to large indoor gatherings but not mask use, which the Government is continuing to encourage.

"We all agreed that we should continue to encourage mask use, what we were asked to consider was whether or not we should have a limit of 500 on larger scale events.

"Our view was that we have an alert level framework that we've stuck pretty tightly to about what Level 1 means, that for those larger events we have a code in place that we have an expectation for the large event organisers to implement."