27 Oct 2021

Waikato's alert level restrictions ease, but border remains

5:18 pm on 27 October 2021

Waikato's alert level 3 restrictions will ease slightly tonight to match the greater freedoms seen in Auckland, but the boundary will remain, the government has announced.

Police monitoring a checkpoint in Mercer, near Auckland's border with Waikato.

Police monitoring a checkpoint in Mercer, near Auckland's border with Waikato. Photo: RNZ/Nick Monro

The alert level in the region will be reviewed on Monday, when the Auckland alert levels are also assessed.

Two households will be able to meet up outdoors within the alert level boundaries, with up to 10 people.

Speaking at today's media conference, where 74 new cases were announced today, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the the government was not comfortable with dropping alert levels further while new cases were arising in Waikato.

But people in the region would enjoy a creeping return to normal activities.

"Recreational activities will be expanded to include golf, hunting, boating, fishing and scuba diving, with a maximum of 10 people involved and people must stay within the alert level 3 boundary," he said.

Face-to-face appointments with a number of healthcare providers can restart, he added.

The minister said he wanted to acknowledge the public's frustration in Waikato, but encouraged people to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

"It should be clear to everybody now we are likely to see more cases emerging outside of Auckland. It's not a question of if cases will emerge outside of Auckland, it's a matter of when," he said.

"The higher the levels of vaccination across the country, the less likely we are to have our summer plans disrupted."

There are now 97 community cases of Covid-19 in the Waikato District Health Board's region.

The six new cases announced today were all in Hamilton - five being known contacts and the sixth case linked to previous cases. All are in isolation.

The biggest cluster of 35 cases is in Te Awamutu. Hamilton has 31 and Raglan 23.

The other eight cases are in Cambridge, Otorohanga, Whatawhata and Kawhia.

Out of the total of 97 cases to date, five still haven't been linked and 36 have recovered.

Vaccination rates across the region now stand at 85 percent of the eligible population receiving one dose, while 68.2 percent are fully vaccinated.

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