18 Aug 2021

How Wellington responded to the snap alert level 4 lockdown

7:53 pm on 18 August 2021

For the first time in 15 months, Wellington woke up to a lockdown this morning.

The rain has set in on the Wellington waterfront, as the sun rises and a handful of people exercise

The rain set in on the Wellington waterfront, as the sun rose on the first day of the latest alert level 4 lockdown. Photo: RNZ / Jake McKee

Down Lambton Quay, chirping birds could be heard loudly in the trees - not drowned out by vehicles or people. From mid-morning onwards, the city had come more alive - at least in alert level 4 terms - with a very small, but steady, dribble people making their way around.

Testing stations began to expand, cars queuing for long distances down the street as Wellington residents waited for their Covid-19 tests.

Some motorists at the Taranaki Street station gave up and drove away without testing.

One woman in the queue said it was concerning that people were not getting tested because of the wait time, and said she would be staying as long as it took to get tested.

Capital and Coast District Health Board extended opening hours for its testing stations, but was restricting testing to those with symptoms or who may have been in locations of interest.

Many in the line for a test had symptoms, and several people admitted they probably should have been tested sooner.

A woman waiting in the queue told RNZ "Well I hadn't thought of it actually, until we were in lockdown, and then I thought 'oh my goodness, I better get tested'."

Robert Erskine, who travelled from Australia to New Zealand with his wife to avoid lockdowns, woke up in a locked down city again.

He was out today to get a Covid-19 test.

Wellingtonians think people in the city have become Covid-19 complacent - but many are optimistic about people doing their part over the coming days because we've been through this before.

Wellington Central

Wellington central on Wednesday. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Kai on plates in Wellington

In the middle of Wellington's largest food festival, kai was the forefront of many Wellingtonians focus today.

Wellington on a Plate has paused it's month-long, city-wide festival until further notice. The festival's chief Executive, Sarah Meikle said their focus was on providing support for their hospitality community in the festival.

"Bearing in mind they are in the start of the Burger Wellington portion of WOAP, which is notoriously very well attended, it's safe to say there is large volumes of stock in peoples fridges worth a lot of money."

There was kitchen chaos last night across the city's restaurants, as staff had little time to figure out what to do with their excess amounts of produce.

Restaurant owner Mike Egan said he gave away around $2000 worth of produce to his staff and their bubbles.

Egad, who is also president of the New Zealand Restaurants Association, said the snap lockdown was disappointing, but the industry was resilient.

When local cafe owner Kristine Bartley heard the news, she and her staff went down to the cafe and started cooking.

"It really dawned on us once we had everything on the counter, it was a really massive pile of food that needed to be eaten"

Bartley posted on social media that they were giving away containers full of kai, and within an hour the bench was empty again.

About 2500 unused school meals from catering company Kāpura were donated across the Wellington City Mission, Te Kakaono O Te Aroha Marae, and Compassion Soup Kitchen.

Even with donations, concerns were being raised about those in the city struggling to put food on their plates during the nation-wide snap lockdown.

Kahungunu ki Pōneke Community Services spent the night checking on those at emergency housing and other facilities.

Today, teams delivered food and hygiene parcels.

Amidst supermarket panic-buying across the city, the Wellington City Mission will still be providing for those in need.

The Wellington City Mission has set up contactless grocery delivery for those who would otherwise shop at its Social Supermarket.

The supermarket, which opened earlier this year, provides free groceries and essential items and allows shoppers to choose their own.

City Missioner Murray Edridge said he wants to reminded people the Mission is here for them.

"We just want to remind people that they're not on their own. Even though for us this is a three lock down, people shouldn't be anxious and worried, and for people to contact us if they need any support at this time," he said.


This is an official Covid-19 ALERT.

All of New Zealand is now at Covid-19 alert level 4.

The alert level will be reviewed after 3 days for all areas EXCEPT Auckland & Coromandel Peninsula which is likely to remain at level 4 for an initial period of 7 days.

A community case of Covid-19 has been identified.

Stay at home where possible & follow the Alert Level 4 guidelines. This will stop the spread of Covid-19 and SAVE LIVES.

Everyone is asked to:

Wear a mask and keep a 2 metre distance from others whenever you leave your home.

If you are sick, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice about getting tested.

Keep on scanning QR codes whenever you leave your home.

Practice good hygiene - wash hands often.

Services including supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics & petrol stations will stay open at Alert Level 4.

For more information on Alert Level 4 go to [the government website www.covid19.govt.nz]


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