New rules for Auckland: Groups of 10 from 2 households can meet outdoors

Source: 1News

New Level 3 lockdown rules apply to the Auckland region from Wednesday, October 6.

Family plays frisbee at a picnic.

Jacinda Ardern has announced new rules for outdoor gatherings in a move to ease restrictions for Aucklanders who have been in lockdown for seven weeks. 

As part of Monday’s Government-announced roadmap for Auckland to move out of current Covid-19 restrictions, from Wednesday, up to 10 people will be able to meet outdoors with a cap of two households at a time.

Each household is permitted to meet with one different household or bubble each day, up to 10 people, but record-keeping for contact-tracing purposes is encouraged. 

The announcement coincides with the first day of the school holidays as outdoor playgrounds are also allowed to re-open from Wednesday.

It comes as the city is in its seventh week of lockdown restrictions as the Delta variant continues to emerge in variable numbers of cases on a daily basis. 

“Today, based on public health advice, Cabinet confirmed its plan to transition Auckland out of current restrictions carefully and methodically, with regular check-ins to ensure we’re continuing to actively control the virus,” Jacinda Ardern said.

At a 4pm press conference, Ardern explained Auckland will transition out of restrictions in a three-step process, reviewing each step weekly to ensure it’s safe to move before confirming the next step.

Outline of three-step process

Step 1

From 11:59pm Tuesday, Auckland will remain in Alert Level 3 but several key changes will occur. People will be able to connect with loved ones outdoors with no more than two households at a time, up to a maximum of 10 people; early childhood education will return for all; and people can move around Auckland for recreation such as beach visits and hunting.

Step 2

At step two retail will open their doors, with the usual measures of wearing facemasks and keeping up physical distancing; public facilities such as pools and zoos will open; and the number of people who can meet outdoors will increase to 25.

Step 3

Step three will bring back those higher risk settings. Hospitality will open – seated, separated and with a limit of 50; close contact businesses like hairdressers will also open with mask use and physical distancing; and gatherings will also then extend to 50.

Vaccinations key to moving down alert levels

Ardern stressed that restrictions that are “hardest to live with” will be lifted as vaccination rates increase.

She said while the transition continues from the current strategy to “a new way of doing things” vaccinations will make a bigger difference and rule out the need for level three and four lockdowns.

“We need more people fully vaccinated across more suburbs and more age groups”.

Auckland currently has a vaccination rate of 84 per cent of people having had one dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 51 per cent in the city fully vaccinated against Covid-19.