National News

National News is brought to you by a partnership between Crux and RNZ News 

Covid-19: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reveals alert level 2 rules

May 07, 2020

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has outlined what life will look under level 2, including details on retailing, hospitality, sport, education and travel, if Cabinet agrees to loosen lockdown restrictions next week.

She said businesses like retail outlets and hairdressers will be able to reopen under alert level 2, but there were still be some strict rules.

Ardern said each business can work out its own situation, but basic hygiene must still be followed.

"For retail that means physical distancing for all staff and customers. Larger retailers and malls will follow the lead of our supermarkets. For hairdressers and beauticians it means wearing appropriate PPE."

The prime minister said only hospitality businesses that can apply the 'three s' will be able to open:

Seating: People must be seated to prevent the spread.

Separation: There must be social distancing between people and tables

Single server: Each table must have just one person serving it.

Hospitality operators will also be required to keep distancing at queues outside and will be shut down if they cannot do so, Ardern said.

Nightclubs and dance venues will be unable to open.

"For some it won't be workable but keep in mind the intent is not to remain at level 2 forever, the goal is to keep moving through (the levels)."

Ardern said hospitality businesses will not be required to use contactless payments.

She said the measures of only having one server will help reduce the risk of spread, and 'high-contact surfaces' like eftpos terminals and door handles will need to be cleaned more regularly.

At level 2 indoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 100, and outdoor gatherings - which were previously limited to 500 - are now also going to be limited to a maximum of 100.

Public venues like museums and markets can open again, but with the same public hygiene limitations.

People will no longer need to stick to bubbles at level 2 - and will be able to visit friends and family - but Ardern said people were advised to keep gatherings small wherever possible.

She said while New Zealand's borders will remain closed, inter-regional travel will be allowed.

"A trip from Wellington to Napier to see your Mum is fine, a trip from Wellington to Napier to go to a big conference with an open bar is not fine."

Water activity can resume, while some community sports will be able to return to play sooner than others as they work through the public health requirements.

Professional sports such as rugby and netball will be cleared to start up again. Ardern said there will be no stadium crowds due to mass gathering restrictions, but "sport will be played".

In education, early learning, schools and tertiary education can reopen at level 2, but again with hygiene measures. Capability to support distance learning will be maintained.

When the decision is made to reopen schools, they won't re-open midweek and must start up again at the beginning of the week.

She said distancing measures in general will remain under a lower alert level.

"At alert level 2 playing it safe means two metres from strangers, but in your workplace or places where you're around people you know or people we can contact trace later, we can live with less."

Ardern reminded New Zealanders that no decision on moving to level 2 has been made yet, and said she was not worried about people relaxing compliance because the country had moved down levels before.

"We're eager to move too, but we want to do it safely."

She said she did not want to pre-empt the decision to move to level 2, but the government was keen to do so sooner rather than later, which meant that when the decision was made it may be done in a "phased" approach.

Ardern said the country can be proud of what it had achieved.

"Now we find ourselves in a unique position again, on Monday Cabinet will consider the next stage of our response. We need every number from every single day to get the full set of data and we need of course the view of the Director-General of Health.

"It is very unlikely that we have hunted down every single case of Covid-19. If stray cases start new chains of transmission we might not find them for a month so we all need to stay on guard. Level 2 has been designed to get as many people back to work as possible and get the economy back up and running, but in the safest way possible."

She said public health measures will remain unchanged and asks New Zealanders who get symptoms to stay home, and wash hands properly, and not pass other people their phone.

Follow our live blog for all the latest coronavirus updates

Advertise with Crux Advertise with Crux