PM explains life under level 3 lockdown

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KEY POINTS – Level 3:

• Stay home, keep your bubble – you can expand it a little
• Business will move from essential services only to safe services only
• People must work from home if they can. If not, have safe conditions in place
• Restaurants, bars, malls, retail stores and public venues will stay closed
• Drive-through and online shopping will open
• Partial reopening of schools
• Funerals, weddings limited to 10 people
• People can swim, surf and fish from the shore

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced details of what life and business activity might look like under level 3 lockdown but the main message remains: “Stay home to save lives.”

At a Covid-19 update this afternoon, Ms Ardern told reporters that the indications of actions taken against coronavirus so far were “promising. But we should not confuse the success of our actions with overreaction.”

New Zealand has been in level 4 lockdown for three-and-a-half weeks and was initially expected to stay in lockdown until 11.59pm on Wednesday, April 22.

People are required to stay at home unless they need to make essential trips including to the supermarket and pharmacy.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said there were 15 new Covid-19 cases in the country, made up of six confirmed and nine probable cases.

There have been no further deaths. Some 670 people had recovered from the coronavirus and the total number of infections has reached 1401.

Ms Ardern said defining the different alert levels today is not an indication of the decision that will be made by the Government on Monday regarding the alert level.

“Level 3 is a progression, not a rush to normality. It carries forward many of the restrictions in place at level 4, including the requirement to mainly be at home in your bubble and to limit contact with others.

“Protecting the health of New Zealanders is our primary focus but we also need to position the economy for recovery.”

Ardern said the actions were about protecting people’s livelihoods, as well as fighting the virus.

Major restrictions will remain around hospitality businesses like restaurant, bars as well as retail stores.

“The main message remains stay home to save lives,” Ms Ardern said.

“It remains the most effective way to break the chain of transmission. At level 3 there are slightly more opportunities for you to come into contact with people outside your bubble. As a general rule of thumb, the goal of keeping two metres away from each other still applies.

“To eliminate Covid-19 will continue to take a team-of-five-million effort. Under lockdown, we have shown our ability to put in place a virtual wall that has broken the chain of transmission.

“Our new line of defence when we reach level 3 is common sense, following the rules and trust in one another.”

Bloomfield said moving to level 3 meant we are “not out of the woods yet” – and more than ever, Kiwis must remain vigilant.

Expanding your bubble

The different Covid-19 levels allow different levels of contact between people and level 3 is about “restrict” as there was a risk the coronavirus could “bounce back”, Ms Ardern said.

People should keep their bubble at level 3 but can expand it “a small amount”.

Those who need carers, have shared custody, or want to see their family could do so but she said but “keep it exclusive, keep it small.”

For bubbles which included older people or with pre-existing conditions, those people should still be kept safe.

“People need to really use their judgement,” Dr Bloomfield said.

If there was a child in that bubble, it would be advised to keep them home from school if possible.

Even though the bubbles were being slightly expanded, Kiwis should try to keep them as limited as possible, but are being advised not to take up new activities that they have never done before.

Work from home if you can

Work from home if you can, is the message from the Prime Minister to employers.

Where that is not possible, businesses may re-open but must comply with health and safety requirements around physical distancing and contactless engagement with customers.

Businesses only accessed by the staff, and without a customer-facing function, such as building and construction or forestry can open under strict health and safety and physical distancing rules.

Businesses that are accessed by the public or customers such as retail, hardware stores and restaurants can open but only for online or phone purchases and contactless delivery or click and collect.

Cafes, bars to stay shut

Bars and cafes, malls and retail stores have too much contact with the public, so they will remain closed, Ms Ardern said.

However,  food deliveries and e-commerce could re-open.

Ms Ardern once again referred to level 3 as a waiting room and said this was because “we have to wait and see if what we’ve done has worked”.

Healthcare

Healthcare services should use virtual, non-contact consultations where possible.

People at high risk of severe illness (older people and those with existing medical conditions) are encouraged to stay at home where possible, and take additional precautions when leaving home. They may choose to work.

Primary care will continue to be open, Allied Health and dentists will open.

Education

Early childhood education centres (ECEs) and schools will open for children up to and including year 10, with appropriate public health measures in place. All young people in years 11-13 will continue to learn at home, Ms Ardern said.

Physical attendance at school is voluntary, but all children not at school should be learning by distance.

Schools will be a safe place for children to go to learn if their parents need to return to work, or the children cannot learn at a distance.

Children who are able to, should remain home and learn via distance.

Children at school would be kept in the same groups each day and it would be down to each school to work out how to do that, she said.

Schools and ECEs will contact parents as they work through their plans for re-opening.

Home based early learning services can resume up to the maximum number of licensed children of 4 including the educators own children, provided public health requirements are met.

Play centres and play groups will be closed.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like gloves and masks are not necessary for a school environment. Children, young people and staff who are at greater risk are encouraged to stay at home. Any child, young person or staff member who is sick should remain at home.

It will take at least a week for schools and early childhood centres to get ready to open after we go to Alert Level 3.

Recreation

You can do activities that are local, which you can do safely, and which do not involve interacting with other people, or equipment touched by other people.

You should go to your nearest beach or park, not your favourite one.

Boating and jetskis are still banned because they can be prone to breakdown. But you can swim, surf and fish from the shore. But don’t start a new activity that you haven’t done before.

If there are signs of congregation, this rule will be reconsidered so Kiwis shouldn’t consider it a time to catch-up with all their swimming buddies, the Prime Minister said.

Staying overnight at a bach or holiday home is not permitted.

Public play equipment would remain closed.

Travel

Travel restrictions remain, but move from local to regional.

This recognises that more people will travel to work, or to take children to school. But to avoid taking potential Covid-19 cases to other parts of the country, restricting movement to what is necessary remains the goal.

Inter-regional travel is highly limited (for example for essential workers, with limited exemptions for others).

If you were in the wrong place when the restrictions came into place, and need to get home, you can now move throughout New Zealand to do so. You can only move once, and in one direction. New Zealanders can move to or from the Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau once, and in one direction.

Rules for weddings, funerals and tangi

Funerals and tangi can go ahead but only 10 people can attend. Weddings are also restricted to 10 people and only services can take place – there can’t be any meals or receptions.

One metre is the new distance you should keep to, but you have to be able to contact-trace. Keep a note of where you’ve been, when and who you saw.

• What level 2 looks like

Ms Ardern said level 3 was a waiting room or a recovery room, designed to restrict the spread of the virus. Level 2 means that Covid-19 is contained, but the risk of community transmission remains.

Level 2 would see different restrictions including:

• Physical distancing of one metre outside home (including on public transport).

• Gatherings of up to 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors allowed while maintaining physical distancing and contact tracing requirements.

• Sport and recreation activities are allowed if conditions on gatherings are met, physical distancing is followed and travel is local.

• Public venues can open but must comply with conditions on gatherings, and undertake public health measures.

• Health services operate as normally as possible.

• Most businesses open, and business premises can be open for staff and customers with appropriate measures in place. Alternative ways of working encouraged (e.g. remote working, shift-based working, physical distancing, staggering meal breaks, flexible leave).

• Schools and Early Childhood Education centres open, with distance learning available for those unable to attend school (e.g. self-isolating).

• People advised to avoid non-essential inter-regional travel.

• People at high risk of severe illness (older people and those with existing medical conditions) are encouraged to stay at home where possible, and take additional precautions when leaving home. They may choose to work.

• What level 1 looks like

Alert level 1 is when Covid-19 is contained and New Zealand is prepared for an outbreak.

Restrictions under alert level 1 include:

• Border entry measures to minimise risk of importing Covid-19 cases.

• Intensive testing for Covid-19.

• Rapid contact tracing of any positive case.

• Self-isolation and quarantine required.

• Schools and workplaces open, and must operate safely.

• Physical distancing encouraged.

• No restrictions on gatherings.

• Stay home if you’re sick, report flu-like symptoms.

• Wash and dry hands, cough into elbow, don’t touch your face.

• No restrictions on domestic transport – avoid public transport or travel if sick.

NZ Herald and RNZ