13 Nov 2020

Covid-19: Public avoid Auckland CBD as community case probed

1:34 pm on 13 November 2020

Auckland city centre has been quiet this morning after news of the latest community case.

Vincent 106 apartments in Auckland CBD.

Vincent 106 apartments in Auckland CBD. Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro

Several events have also been cancelled across the city this weekend, including a cultural festival.

Yesterday a woman in her 20s was confirmed with the virus. Health officials have been waiting on final results of genome sequencing to determine whether the case is linked to a recent Defence Force cluster.

The woman, who lives at the central Vincent Residences apartment complex, returned to work at A-Z Collection clothes store on High Street before receiving her test results and visited several locations around the city.

Buses arrived early at a major public transport stop near the Civic Theatre and were waiting for their scheduled departing time.

Driver Anthony McCoy, who was coming from Onehunga, said his double-decker normally would take about 40 people.

"There would have been four, maybe five people got on the bus. It would have been one not wearing a mask. The traffic was a lot lighter. I arrived here about 10-to-15 minutes earlier than usual," he said.

At the coffee shops, staff members are all wearing a mask, including the Coffee Club in Aotea Square.

Duty manager Manjinder Singh said they were normally busy with customers from the city council workers or students from the Auckland University of Technology, but this morning there were only two customers.

"We were a bit panicked when we came to know that it is just nearby on Queen Street ... so pretty close," he said.

A Queen Street shop owner is among those who have closed their doors for the day, while workers stay home.

Tu Unahi owns a cosmetics shop on the city's main street but has closed it for the day as a precaution.

"I've closed down the shop because of the recent news last night. I've found it's the best option to follow the government's announcement to keep it close, keep everyone safe," he said.

"I live in the city and I do walk past these places everyday which concerns me that's why I'm wearing a mask and I'm very cautious about my movements today."

Unahi said he would also not be going to Starbucks for a few days.

Central Auckland gym Flexfitness is enforcing stricter hygiene measures today.

Owner Chris Bold said the Symonds Street business already provided sanitiser for customers, who must all sign in for contact tracing.

He said they'd increased the space between equipment to 2 metres and group classes had been reduced to a maximum of 10. Gym-goers have also been training in masks and wiping equipment down, according to Bold.

"Not only do we require people to use the government app, which I think people are getting a bit lazy at doing, but you're required to tag in and take out so we know who's in the building at all times so we know how long they're there for. You know when they come in, who they are in contact with."

A Wellington woman who comes to Auckland for an exam said she was not too concerned about the spread of the virus, but about a possible alert level change.

Jenni Hawes said she arrived yesterday afternoon and has been staying in her hotel in Auckland CBD, so didn't get in touch with many people.

She said people were covid conscious, as she saw people wearing masks and waiting to be tested at the pop-up testing centre off High Street.

"I mean, I guess the concern would be if there's another lockdown and were unable to leave Auckland. That would be frustrating, but it is what it is."

A woman who was on her way to get tested in Auckland CBD after yesterday's community case said people should always be vigilant about Covid-19.

She said she has been to the Starbucks store the confirmed case visited, but added she was not sure whether it was within the same time frame.

This woman said she had a sore throat in the last couple of days. Working in hospitality, she's been told to get tested until she can return to work.

She said she always wears a mask and carries a hand sanitiser and had already tested four times for the virus.

"The mask is very important because you never know when it's gonna happen and who it's gonna happen to."

Meanwhile, K-festival organisers say although the government has not yet announced its decision on the next steps, they wanted to take the precaution to keep attendees and artists safe.

The event, celebrating Korean music and food, was due to be held at Eventfinda Stadium on the North Shore.

Organisers Kyoung Sook Wilson Byun of the Korean Society of Auckland and Eunsol Choi of the Auckland Korean Students' Association said in a statement they were "sad to share the unfortunate news that K-festival has been postponed until further notice".

"We understand that the news from today regarding community transmission in Auckland CBD has been a surprise and a concern to you," they said.

"As we value the safety of everyone, we have unfortunately decided to postpone the event until further notice. Although the New Zealand government has not announced their decision on the next steps, we wanted to take the initiative in following the standards and regulations by the New Zealand government to keep the New Zealand community safe."

They said once the New Zealand government has confirmed that it is once again safe, they will bring back the festival.

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