Aucklanders should think about summer 'staycation' - Hendy

Source: 1News

The mercury is rising, the sun is shining, and Aucklanders can almost taste freedom with the city's borders set to open in under two weeks.

But while Aucklanders have just spent over 100 days in lockdown, one leading Covid-19 modeller says they should spend even more time in the city.

Speaking to Breakfast on Friday morning on the first day of the new traffic light system, Professor Shaun Hendy said he was concerned Aucklanders leaving the city would lead to Covid outbreaks in areas of the country that have relatively low vaccination rates.

"Unfortunately not everyone is at the vaccination coverage that we are here in Tamaki Makarau. Places like Te Tai Tokerau (Northland), Tairāwhiti (Gisborne), where particularly in Māori communities we've got lower vaccination rates ... they need more time to build that protection into their communities," Hendy said.

"Unfortunately if Aucklanders travel in large numbers to those parts of the country the virus has an opportunity to spread in under-vaccinated communities. That could have a particularly bad impact on Māori, who already have worse health outcomes from Covid-19."

Auckland's Viaduct Harbour.

Hendy said Aucklanders should think of a "staycation" this summer or rethink their holiday plans so they're not going to take the virus into vulnerable communities.

"That applies even if you're vaccinated. The vaccines are very good but they're not 100 per cent going to stop you catching the virus and passing it on to others."

Gisborne’s Tairāwhiti DHB has recorded 87 per cent first dose vaccinations but only have 77 per cent second dose vaccinations, falling well short of the 90 per cent vaccination goal.

On Thursday it was announced Gisborne's Rhythm and Vines music festival would be postponed until Easter.

Tairāwhiti enters the traffic light system at Red, significantly impacting the ability of organisers to hold events.

A petition to cancel the event has already gained thousands of signatures. The page was set up by a Gisborne resident to “protect our locals” from the spread of Covid-19.

Tairāwhiti iwi had also called for the festival to be cancelled.

Organisers say following consultation with iwi, the health board, local council and MPs, they are shifting the event from late December until mid-April.