NZ’s busiest travel day of the year has regions on edge

Laura James
Source: 1News

Thursday has been the busiest day for air travel for the festive season, as tens of thousands of passengers take off across the country, but some Kiwis are on edge as the Auckland Delta outbreak continues.

A total of 27,000 passengers passed through Auckland's domestic terminal on Thursday, and some expressed concern about experiencing an anti-Auckland sentiment in other parts of the country.

"No one really likes Auckland at the moment," one traveller said.

1News took to the streets in Christchurch on Thursday to see how people are feeling about visitors, and some were nervous.

"It's a bad thing, we just don't want that coronavirus here. Keep them up there - we're safe,” one person said.

"It's lovely for them to see their families again, but it is a bit worrying... You don't know, and you can't just ask if everyone's Aucklanders,” another added.

Clinical psychologist Dougal Sutherland said it's understandable people are anxious.

"That's been part of the whole Covid journey, hasn't it?" he said.

The Ministry of Health says there have been 9355 cases in Auckland since the start of the Delta outbreak.

To put it in perspective, that's just over 0.5 per cent of the Auckland population.

"When the borders have been released from Auckland, people outside of Auckland might think Covid's been released as well," Sutherland said.

"Of course it hasn't been but if you think about other people, they might be just a little fearful so it might be a good idea to go cautiously."

Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said, “everyone needs to take more precautions", adding that the likelihood a person travelling from Auckland with the virus "is higher than people in other parts of the country".

"That's just the simple epidemiology of it," he said.

Sutherland said people should communicate with their family and friends to see if there's anything they can do to "allay their fears".

"You may want to show you are double vaxxed and you've had a negative test, to put your relatives at ease.

"I would encourage Aucklanders who're travelling... to have a conversation with the people they're visiting to make sure if they are staying with people or are going to socialise indoors, that the people they're visiting are vaccinated and there're not vulnerable people there."

1News has spoken to some Aucklanders who have been asked not to attend Christmas gatherings.

"I think if you're in that position where you're an Aucklander and you've been asked not to go somewhere, maybe just take a breath and maybe focus on the longer term game," Sutherland said.

"This is just this Christmas and next Christmas, hopefully, we'll be back to normal."