20 Apr 2020

Covid-19: Your alert level 3 questions answered

12:47 pm on 20 April 2020

*Since this story was published the Covid-19 situation has changed. Please refer to RNZ's latest coverage for up to date information on Covid-19 alert levels. 

Described by some as level 4 but with KFC, whenever we move to level 3 there are still many rules to understand and follow. Glen Scanlon answers your level 3 questions.

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Experienced mountain bikers will be able to ride locally in level 3. Photo: 123RF

My bubble has got very snug, perhaps too comfy, can I shake things up a little?

Hmmm. Depends what you mean by shake it up. The government says under level 3 we should continue to stay in our household bubbles whenever we are not at work, school, grocery shopping or exercising.

However, it will be loosened ever so slightly to allow people "to reconnect with close family / whānau, or bring in caregivers, or support isolated people". The exact size here hasn't been determined but inviting 15 relatives over to celebrate over deep fried chicken is definitely not a goer.

Here are some examples where it's OK to extend:

  • If a relative or loved one lives locally, and is alone you can include them.
  • If you are returning to work and need child or other care for those already in your bubble, someone can join to help.

If you do extend your bubble a bit then it must remain "exclusive and only include people where it will keep you and them safe and well". If anyone feels unwell, they should self-isolate.

I accept I can't get takeout and have the whole family around but are any gatherings allowed?

Very few. Up to 10 people can gather for funerals and tangihanga or wedding ceremonies. Receptions are a no no.

Those who attend must keep two metres apart (I'm anticipating the bride and groom are allowed to kiss). You should keep a list of those who attend and wash hands regularly.

None of the above really works very well for people like me in a flatting situation, where we all want to reconnect with someone. How are we meant to approach it?

The government advice has at times focused on what you might call the "nuclear family" which, as we all know, doesn't cover all the scenarios. There is no specific advice for flatmates etc at the moment. However, the tenor of the above is that you need to treat it in the best way to reduce the risk and you need to have very good reasons to be extending. And even then only in tiny, tiny ways. If you have four people in a flat and they are all adding a person or two, that is increasing the risk. There is no way you can gauge how safe that bubble is as the extra people all bring others they are connecting with. Your flat is effectively your family in this situation and you need to stick together. Sounds like it's time for an open flat chat.

Can I meet up with a person I have met on a dating app?

The government's rules would suggest this is a bad idea and risks exposing you and others already in your bubble. If they're truly interested in you, they will wait. Or, of course, you could prepare the ground via video conference. What better way in these difficult times to understand more about a person without taking risks.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

If the lockdown left me stuck somewhere that isn't my normal home can I return under level 3?

Yes, but you can only move once, and in one direction.

Is surfing going to be allowed under level 3?

I quote directly from the government advice: "If you are an experienced surfer, you can go to your local break. If you're not experienced, don't surf."

Other forms of recreation are also back including:

  • Fishing from a wharf or the shore, but don't cast off the rocks or from a boat. Boating is still a no go.
  • Tramping is OK for "day walks on easy trails" near where you live. Rinse and repeat for mountain biking.
  • Rules are still being developed for hunting, with no word on a change of status there yet.
  • You are not allowed to escape to the bach or holiday home.

Generally speaking the advice remains to do things that are local, safe and do not involve mixing with other people or equipment used by them. You should go to your nearest beach or park, not your favourite one (let's call this the clarity for David Clark clause). Always keep a two-metre distance from others.

If I'm working from home can I send my kids to school?

Secretary for Education Iona Holsted says the government has been "very clear that at level 3, parents and caregivers should, where they can, keep their children at home".

So, big soz, if you're at home the kids likely are too.

And be warned that if you are in a position where your children will be going to school or an early learning centre, it will take at least a week for them to get ready after any announcement.

Am I going to have to go back into the office?

If you can work from home then you must continue to do so. For those that can't, workplaces are being told they must put in safety measures.

These include:

  • Keeping one metre between staff; recording who is together; limiting interaction; disinfecting surfaces and maintaining high hygiene standards.
  • Retail and hospitality businesses can only open for delivery and contactless, pre-ordered pick up i.e. 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 at level 4.
  • Businesses which rely on face-to-face or physical contact have to remain closed. This includes things like hairdressing, massage and house cleaning.
  • Other home services can be delivered if it is safe to do so (like tradespeople for repairs or installations) but keep two metres away from others.
  • Most workers will not require personal protection equipment. Continue good hygiene like hand washing with soap and water, physical distancing, sneeze and cough etiquette and wiping down surfaces.

I'm having to take annual leave, will level 3 mean I can get away from the neighbourhood?

Staycations are still where it is at, I'm afraid. For all bar a few people working in permitted ways/industries, we remain limited to work, school, shopping and exercise close to home.

I'm over 70, am I allowed to fly my coop some more?

It's frustrating, we know, but the government still wants people at higher-risk of severe illness (older people, or those with underlying medical conditions) to stay put.

If you need to leave the house take additional precautions 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 order online.

For more detail on all of the above visit the official government Covid-19 website.

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