Auckland will move to Alert Level Three COVID-19 restrictions at 11.59pm tonight 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 be in alert level 2.
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.
Air New Zealand will suspend food and beverage offerings on domestic flights in response to the mnew cases out of “an abundance of caution”.
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.
He said there would likely be a further update later on Sunday.
“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.”
Ardern on Sunday canceled her plans to attend the Big Gay Out, a large Auckland festival that celebrates the rainbow community.
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.
With AP, Stuff