28 Aug 2020

Covid-19: What happened in New Zealand on 28 August

9:39 pm on 28 August 2020

With 12 new cases reported in New Zealand today, Finance Minister Grant Robertson has thanked Aucklanders for their commitment as the end of level 3 restrictions nears.

A health worker conducts a test at a COVID-19 coronavirus testing centre in the suburb of Northcote in Auckland on August 12, 2020.

Photo: AFP

New Zealand's active cases rose to 130 with the announcement of the new cases - five of those being from the community in Auckland and seven in managed isolation.

Four of the community cases are from one household and linked to the Mt Roskill Evangelical Church sub-cluster. The other case is linked to a known confirmed case.

The imported cases came from one single flight.

A total 11 people are in hospital with the coronavirus - eight on a ward and three in intensive care.

See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

Contact tracing has identified 2475 close contacts of cases - 2433 have been contacted and are self-isolating.

There are 161 people linked to the Auckland cluster who have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility - this includes 88 positive cases and their close family contacts.

New Zealand's labs processed 11,010 Covid-19 tests yesterday, bringing the total to 730,330.

Job not done yet - Robertson

As Auckland prepares to move to level 2 at 11.59pm on Sunday, police have warned people in the area not to get too complacent at the weekend.

In a statement, Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers said the "vast majority" of the community had been adhering to the restrictions and Aucklanders needed to keep it up.

"We know it's tempting to head out on the weekends but every day counts to help control the spread of the virus.

"Police will be out showing high visibility within our communities and continuing to carry out reassurance patrols at places such as supermarkets, pharmacies and beaches."

He said police will continue to operate 13 checkpoints across north and South Auckland.

Earlier, Finance Minster Grant Robertson thanked Aucklanders for their commitment.

"As a result of your actions, New Zealand remains in a comparatively positive position to other countries who have experienced second-wave outbreaks, with a small number of daily cases, no additional cases and no spread of the virus beyond the cluster, so thank you.

"We are nearly there, but the job is not quite done."

$167m paid out to 157,000 businesses during wage subsidy extension

Close to 157,000 jobs are being supported by the government's new wage subsidy scheme.

The Resurgence Wage Subsidy was announced after Auckland went back into Level 3 lockdown and is available to businesses across the country.

To be eligible, businesses must have experienced a 40 percent drop in revenue compared to last year in the two weeks from 12 August and 10 September.

Read more on the story here.

Finance minister cut back $20bn in Covid recovery proposals

On top of the news about the wage subsidy extension, documents released by the government today showed that the finance minister cut back $20 billion worth of proposals and initiatives put forward by ministers to economise the Covid-19 Response and Recovery fund.

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Finance minister Grant Robertson. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

In a Cabinet paper dated 22 June, ministers submitted 149 proposals in total for the July 2020 round of the Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund and to wave three of the government's response.

That amounted to more than $23 billion of spending, but the Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund had a remaining balance of $18bn.

However, Robertson wanted a fiscal buffer of $15bn, leaving only $3bn left for spending.

Read more on this here.

Visa delays could make 77-year-old an overstayer

One of thousands of coronavirus-stranded visitors in New Zealand says the long wait for news about extending visas has left him fearful of becoming an overstayer.

Immigration industry sources say the government is considering another blanket visa extension, possibly with staggered expiry dates.

In April, the government extended temporary visas due to expire between 1 April and 9 July until 25 September.

Dave Ashcroft, 77, had been due to fly home to Scotland in May after visiting his daughter and grandchildren in Auckland.

He was pleased with the initial extension but has been trying in vain to get information from Immigration in the lead-up to the new visa deadline.

Read more on this story, and INZ's response here.

US ambassador Scott Brown dodged managed isolation in New Zealand after US trip

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US Ambassador Scott Brown. Photo: RNZ/ Rebekah Parsons-King

Despite strict protocols for returning New Zealanders, Stuff revealed that United States Ambassador Scott Brown dodged New Zealand's mandated isolation and quarantine facilities when returning from a visit to the US.

Brown, who boasts close ties to President Donald Trump, and his wife Gail chose instead to self-isolate at his Lower Hutt home.

The New Zealand government cannot force diplomats into managed isolation because of international immunity rules, but they do advise diplomats to undergo the 14-day stint in managed isolation facilities which is mandatory for most other travellers to protect New Zealanders from exposure to Covid-19.

Read more about this here.

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