By RNZ News
QR app codes are now mandatory for New Zealand businesses and services, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield have revealed, as they announced new covid-19 cases today.
Dr Bloomfield said there was just one new confirmed case in managed isolation recorded today, plus the four cases of community transmission announced last night.
However, four further probable cases had also been identified, he said, and they are all in isolation.
There were 22 active cases in New Zealand, Dr Bloomfield said.
Ardern and Dr Bloomfield announced increased covid-19 alert levels across the country last night after four new cases of community transmission.
Those four were members of a family, and Dr Bloomfield revealed this morning that one of them had travelled to Rotorua while symptomatic.
Television NZ revealed tonight that the family concerned are Pacific Islanders, with community leaders appealing to government to not allow “further spread of the deadly covid-19 in our most vulnerable communities”.
Home to Pacific population
South Auckland is home to New Zealand’s largest Pacific population.
This afternoon Dr Bloomfield said the visit to Rotorua had not resulted in anyone who was classified as a close contact, but health officials were taking a very precautionary approach.
He said the symptomatic family members visited Waiora Lakeside Hotel between August 8 and 11, and visited the Skyline Gondola and Heritage Farm and 3D Art Gallery.
Two of the new probable cases are family of the first case, and two are co-workers of the family, Dr Bloomfield says. Three are adults and one is a teenager, all of them symptomatic.
Over 200 close contacts of the family had been identified by about midday, Dr Bloomfield said.
He has made an oral direction under Section 70 of the Health Act, ordering any employees or visitors to Americold in Mt Wellington, and Finance Now on Dominion Road – and their households – to remain at home in isolation until they are contacted by officials and given further direction.
Across the world, there have been 19.9 million cases yesterday, Ardern said. New Zealand’s approach had been successful, but it would take everybody in the country working together.
“We know how to beat this, but we also know we don’t need to look far to see what it can mean if we don’t get on top of it. We have a plan and now is the time to follow it.”
App QR code display to be mandatory – Ardern
Ardern said that at midday today a new public health order had also came into effect.
The order provides the legal basis to require people to stay at home, unless they are working in places where it is safe for them to do so.
It also includes two new provisions. It is now mandatory for any business or service to display the QR code for the tracing app at all entry points. Businesses will have one week to comply.
People travelling out of Auckland are also required to wear a mask while on a plane.
The Auckland region moved to level 3 at midday today, with the rest of New Zealand moving to level 2 simultaneously. The increased levels will remain for three days until midnight Friday, when alert levels will be reassessed.
Ardern said the covid-19 leave support scheme was there for all businesses experiencing financial hardship, and applications for the wage subsidy extension would remain open until September 1.
The small business cash flow scheme remains open until December 1 and the covid relief payment for people made redundant remains open until November 13.
Targeted economic support
Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Treasury were working on targeted economic support for Auckland if the city was to remain in level 3 beyond Friday, Ardern said.
“With support aside, the best economic response remains that strong health response, going hard and going early with a lockdown is still the best strategy for getting business back open as soon as it is safe,” she said.
Level 3 travel measures also include roadblocks being set up by police and Defence Force at the exits from Auckland.
Rest homes are also going into full lockdown until midnight on Friday, effectively operating at level 4.
The ministry has begun a mass testing regime, calling for anyone with symptoms to seek testing.
Auckland’s covid-19 testing centres are extremely busy, with queues snaking kilometres as hundreds of people line up for tests. The healthline has been inundated with calls as well, with reports of some people waiting on hold for hours.
This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.