Some Aucklanders enjoying new freedoms today said there had been stress and anxiety in the community during New Zealand’s longest lockdown.
The country’s largest city moved to level 3 step 2 and shops can open — but swimming pools, cinemas and theatres remain closed.
Coincidentally, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited Auckland for the first time in 12 weeks touring a factory and visiting a Pacific vaccination drive.
- LISTEN: RNZ Checkpoint – Education Minister details return to schools (duration 8:53
- READ MORE: Other NZ covid lockdown reports
She faced criticism for not meeting with other businesses such as hospitality or hairdressers.
Ardern said she would be returning to Auckland to see how the people were dealing with the delta outbreak.
This morning she spoke with Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Brett O’Riley and toured an engineering factory, before visiting a Pacific youth vaccination event in Māngere. It is her first trip to the city since lockdown was imposed in August.
In the stand-up, Ardern said the reason she was delayed in visiting Auckland was limitations in Parliament.
“As soon as those measures lifted, I found the first available time to come home,” she said.
“Tāmaki Makaurau is my home and today’s been really important for me to reconnect with those I’ve been keeping in contact with at a distance — business representatives, health providers — but also to have a chance to talk to Aucklanders about their experience.”
Schools to reopen
Covid-19 Response and Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the benefits of reopening primary schools and kura in Auckland and Waikato on November 17 far outweighed any risks.
Children in Year 4 and up will need to wear a mask, the number on-site will be limited, and groups of children will have to distance themselves from one another.
Schools and kura will decide what works best for them, but most pupils in Years 1 to 8 will probably return part-time, while Years 9 and 10 go back full-time.
The opposition National Party wants all schools to reopen immediately, and said paying schools up to $400 per student and regularly testing children would help them make up for lost class time.
The party this morning released its “Back on Track” plan to help school students catch up on their curriculum.
- 147 new community cases of covid-19: 131 in Auckland, 14 in Waikato, and two in Northland. And 63 cases from today remain unliked.
- The suburbs of interest in Auckland are Ranui, Sunnyvale, Kelston, Birkdale, Manurewa and Māngere.
- 81 people with Covid-19 in hospital, including 11 in ICU or HDU. Of those, 40 cases are either unvaccinated or not eligible, 25 are partially vaccinated, 10 are fully vaccinated, and the vaccination status of six is unknown.
- 4813 community cases in the current outbreak.
A man in his 60s who had covid-19 and was isolating at a home in Glen Eden in Auckland has died — the third such death.
The cause of his death will be determined by the coroner, including whether it may have been covid-related.
Two people isolating at home with covid-19 died last week.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said allowing covid-19 patients to isolate at home was generally working well but the deaths were being reviewed.
AstraZeneca vaccine becomes an option
The AstraZeneca vaccine will be made available later this month for a small number of people aged 18 and over who cannot have the Pfizer shots for medical reasons.
Dr Bloomfield said people who were required to be vaccinated under the public health order, but who preferred AstraZeneca to Pfizer, could also opt for it.
He said only a few hundred people aged 18 and over would be eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine from late November.
However, several hours later, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told Newstalk ZB AstraZeneca would actually be available to anyone who has a conversation with their doctor.