Australia’s ‘green zone’ bubble with New Zealand will continue even though Auckland will move to Alert Level Three COVID-19 lockdown for three days after three people from one family have tested positive with the source of the infections unknown.
The rest of New Zealand will also be placed under heightened restrictions although will not go into lockdown.
This means in Auckland schools can stay open for parents that need to be at work. but otherwise children are asked to stay at home. Supermarkets and pharmacies will continue to stay open but businesses that interact with customers face-to-face will close. Gatherings outside of a person’s bubble are prohibited.
New Zealand had successfully stamped out community spread of the virus, although new cases are regularly caught at the border among returning travellers, all of whom are required to spend two weeks in quarantine.
Officials said they’re keeping an open mind on how the Auckland mother, father and daughter caught the disease. They said the mother works at an airline catering company, and officials are investigating whether there is a link to infected passengers.
“I’m asking New Zealanders to continue to be strong and to be kind,” Ardern said at a hastily arranged press conference on Sunday evening. “I know we all feel the same way when this happens. We all get that sense of ‘Not again.’ But remember, we have been here before and that means we know how to get out of this again, and that is together.”
Officials said the daughter’s high school will be closed on Monday and Tuesday as a precaution, but so far they have not announced any broader restrictions.
“We are gathering all of the facts as quickly as we can, and the system that served us so well in the past is really gearing up to do so again,” said COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.
He described the cases as new and active. He said scientists are carrying out genome sequencing to see whether the cases are of the more transmissible variants, and also to see whether they match with any infected passengers.
“New Zealand has kept COVID-19 contained better than almost any other country,” Hipkins said. “But as we have kept saying, there is no such thing as no risk.”
New Zealand, with a population of 5 million, has reported a total of just over 2,300 cases and 25 deaths since the pandemic started.