21 Sep 2020

Aucklanders react to moving to alert level 2 proper

8:03 pm on 21 September 2020

Today's decision on alert levels has made Aucklanders happy and some are looking forward to rules being even further relaxed.

Auckland's Queen Street on the morning of 26 March, on the first day of the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

Auckland's CBD. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

It's three weeks since Auckland moved to what's been dubbed alert level 2.5 - while the rest of the country has been at level 2, but today the prime minister announced that the region would be moving to level 2 at 11.59pm on Wednesday.

"As you can see, our actions collectively have managed to get the virus under control with no new cases in the country today. In no new cases, for seven days linked to the Auckland cluster, we are in a strong position to make our next move down our alert settings," Jacinda Ardern said in a conference this afternoon.

Read more on what you need to know about the alert level decision.

Hana Webb, who is from the United Sates on a working holiday, said New Zealand had handled the pandemic immaculately.

"I am really happy that we are moving from level 2.5 to level 2. Hopefully [we'll] be back to level 1 soon."

Samantha Conley said shifting to level 2 was a good move - so long as people stick to the rules.

"Hopefully everyone doesn't again become relaxed and everyone maintains the social distancing and all the advice that everyone is being given and hopefully we can get back to level 1 as soon as we can."

Sandwich shop worker Julita Patel hoped people would remain cautious while making use of their freedom.

"When they meet together, they need to maintain the distance and we are the mass, like it's very important for them as well and for us as well."

Ricardo Dominiko could not wait for restrictions to be further relaxed.

"To be honest, I just can't wait for it to go to level 1 really because I have my cousins wedding coming up with my family's 21st coming up and really hope that the level could go down."

Some business owners agree. They said they're disappointed the city has not moved to an even lower level. Takapuna Beach Business Association chief executive Terence Harpur said hospitality and accommodation businesses were hurting.

"Obviously we would like to move down to the lower levels as quick as possible. Hospitality operators are probably the most disappointed in this," he said.

"They still have quite big restrictions on the amount of tables that they can sit people through their establishments. It also sets the expectations of people staying at home more and so that also causes issue with less people coming out for dinner and going for drinking and catching up with friends."

However, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said, while he understood people wanted more freedom, the government had to be cautious as many countries experiencing severe resurgences of the virus.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff speaks to media following Cabinet's extension of the alert level 3 lockdown.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says vigilance is key to lowering alert levels properly. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

He urged people to get tested if they have symptoms, stay at home if they're sick, wear a mask on public transport and use the Covid tracing app.

"The story of of Covid spread around the world is that it can come back even with the best precautions, so we need to continue to do the right thing. That's the way we can get back to level 1 as quickly as possible. That's the way we can continue to keep ourselves safe."

Now there is a push for the rest of New Zealand to visit the city as it emerges from lockdown.

The chief executive of the council's Tourism, Events and Economic Development agency, Nick Hill, said the eased restrictions on gatherings meant lots of activities could go ahead.

"Particularly around events and people coming together - 100 is a much more meaningful economic number to do lots of things. Ten is a very small number.

Public health expert Nick Wilson said Auckland was ready for level 2, but it was a pity that better use of masks was not addressed in the move.

"Not just public transport, but also things like aged care facilities, healthcare settings and particularly school buses. I mean, in the Auckland outbreak, a third of the people have been under 20."

Cabinet will meet again on 5 October to discuss whether the supercity can join the rest of the country at level 1.

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