18 Oct 2021

Northland, Waikato eagerly await alert level decision

7:30 am on 18 October 2021

Northland is ready to move down an alert level after no new community cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the region for over a week, Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai says.

A sign for Covid-19 testing in Kawakawa.

A sign for Covid-19 testing in Kawakawa. Photo: RNZ / Nita Blake-Persen

"As each day goes past with no cases in Northland we're hopeful that perhaps that will encourage the decision for us to drop down an alert level, that would be a real bonus for us."

Eight days ago, Northland moved to level 3 after a woman - who later tested positive - allegedly travelled there under false pretences and spent several days in the region.

Mai said the Super Saturday vaccination drive went extremely well in the region, with 5115 people receiving a dose on the day.

Northland's iwi-led border control is ready for an alert level change in the region, but does not want the Auckland border opened.

The government will today review the alert level settings for Northland, Auckland and Waikato.

Tai Tokerau Border Control regional co-ordinator Reuben Taipari said a move to level 2 would be welcome.

"We hope that the levels do go down but we don't want that the border to go down because then Auckland will be capable of travelling up here into the communities where we've still got low vaccination rates."

Taipari said they will set up an iwi-run border if the Auckland borders are relaxed.

South of Auckland's border, those in the Waikato are also awaiting the alert level decision.

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said some residents are starting to relax the rules but need to stay the course.

"Compliance is slipping a little bit. People get complacent especially in public places around playgrounds, walkways and things with wearing a mask and at level 3 they should still be doing that in public places, and I think people are relaxing their bubbles."

Hamilton mayoral candidate Paula Southgate

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate suspects Waikato may remain in level 3, or a version of it, for a few more days. Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

She said the only deliberate flouting of lockdown rules she knows of was an anti-vaccination protest on Saturday.

The Super Saturday vaccination drive was a success, with 10,103 people rolling up their sleeves for a dose, Southgate said.

As for today's alert level decision, she said it is anyone's guess.

"I would love to see Hamilton go back to level 2 but I'm a pragmatist and I just think if the government are going to maintain their cautious approach we might see ourselves in level 3 or a version of level 3 for a few more days."

Raglan residents are nervously waiting to find out if the region will move out of lockdown.

The town's annual arts weekend attracts hundreds of visitors and is due to be held over Labour weekend if alert levels allow.

Waikato District ward councillor for Raglan, Lisa Thomson, said people are feeling cautiously optimistic.

"We'd love to open up but also we have to be cautious because it's a balancing act of making the community feel safe and being good for our business community as well so we're waiting with baited breath to see what the announcement will be."

Thomson said 18 of the region's cases have been in Raglan.

There are currently 40 active cases in Waikato.

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