Far North wakes to fresh lockdown restrictions

Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon.

Residents in the Far North are waking up to increased Covid-19 restrictions.

The emergence of two cases in the township of Taipā that cannot be linked to existing cases prompted the government to move the area from level 2 to level 3 overnight.

The lockdown will be in place until at least Monday, when it will be reviewed by Cabinet.

A boundary is in place, stretching from the Hokianga Harbour on the west coast, to the Mangamuka Junction on State Highway 1 to the Kaeo River Bridge on State Highway 10 and and East Bay on the east coast.

There will be a police presence at locations along the boundary, but it will not be a hard boundary like the one in place around Auckland.

Northland is one of the worst-performing regions for vaccinations, with 79 per cent of eligible people having one dose and 65 percent fully vaccinated.

"These rates are still not high enough for us to be confident that communities would be sufficiently protected in the case of a wider outbreak," Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.

Ngāpuhi Covid-19 response lead Tia Ashby says a snap lockdown is the right move.

"With the amount of cases that were popping up [in the wider Northland region], we were hoping they'd go into alert level 3 earlier, only because we know that less mobility through the region will enable the public health team to identify and isolate cases faster," she says.

Vaccination rates are cause for concern, Ashby says, but she hopes this time in lockdown can be used wisely.

"If we look at our goal of wanting to achieve 90 percent vaccination, then we're going to use this opportunity to do all that we can in the hope that whānau will get vaccinated."

Ngāti Kuri Trust Board chair Harry Burkhardt says when there is a clear and present risk, vaccination rates did go up.

"That's speaking to the people who are undecided. We do know that there will always be work around the people who choose not to, however, we just know from a community perspective, the highest level of vaccination is the best way to keep our community safe."

Conversations need to continue with whānau who remain resistant, Burkhardt says.

"We take the position that we respect where whānau land around vaccination or non-vaccination, we need to support them, but our plea is, can we have a conversation so that at least you've got the facts in front of you, so you can make an informed decision."

The Awanui Hotel is one of four locations of interest associated with the cases.

Publican Eddie Bellas says they shut up shop on Monday as word got around that one of the cases stopped by on Sunday evening.

"We closed down the pub and started doing a clean and just notifying the community of why we were closed, just as a precautionary measure until we found out further information."

Official word came through from the Ministry of Health yesterday morning.

Bellas says they have had lots of support from the community.

"The locals just love the place and regularly visit the place so it's quite overwhelming and it's a big shock to the community and a big shock to us at the Awanui Hotel that it's so close to home."

Official advice is that anyone who was at the Awanui Hotel on Sunday between 5.30pm and 7.30pm should stay home and get tested straight away.

They should get a second test on Friday and continue to isolate until they get a negative result.

People who are at Farmers Kaitaia, Bells Produce and Manaaki on 25 Cafe at the relevant times should monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

-RNZ/Kate Gregan and Sarah Robson.

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1 Comment


Posted on 03-11-2021 10:24 | By Slim Shady

It is widespread in Northland. They have no idea of the link from Auckland to that far north. But they put in a fake border halfway up just because the PM was there yesterday and the ’border’ is just above where she was. Do they think everyone is stupid? Actually, quite a lot are as they fall for it.

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