And they’re here. It’s Ardern, Hipkins and Bloomfield.
Cabinet today reviewed the settings in Auckland, Waikato and Northland.
New Zealand is at its “trickiest and most challenging” moment in the pandemic, Ardern said.
We’ve surpassed the US, Australia and Germany on first doses administered.
As vaccination rates increase over the coming weeks, restrictions need to be maintained.
This week, Super Saturday is taking place to encourage vaccinations. It’s an opportunity for people to get their first or second jab.
Vaccinations will be mandatory for large numbers of the health and education work forces, Ardern said. Cabinet decided this today.
They are still trying to stamp out the virus, but they need Auckland’s help.
To support Aucklanders to get through this period, minor changes had been made to level 3. The first change was allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people. Nothing has suggested this isn’t still a safe option.
This covers GPs, pharmacists, community health nurses, midwives, paramedics and all healthcare workers in sites where patients are treated. It also includes aged residential care workers, home and community support services, kaupapa Māori health providers and Non-Government Organisations that provide health services. A full list will be released this week.
Education staff must receive their first dose by November 15 and be fully vaccinated by January 1, 2022. Only vaccinated staff and support people at schools and early learning services will be able to have contact with children and students – schools must keep a register of this.
Regarding Auckland’s slow move to Delta level 2 through the three new steps, Ardern said they were reviewing the situation weekly.
Anyone in Auckland due a second dose is encouraged to go and get it. She also said people needed to stick to level 3 rules, even though it’s tough, to ensure their safety.
A slow vaccine uptake could see the R-number rise and case numbers explode, experts warn.
Regarding the situation in Northland, Ardern said health is working closely with police.
They’re engaging police because of the “extraordinary nature” of this situation, she said.
Bloomfield said they are making testing widely available across Northland. There will be people who know the two people that travelled there and had contact with them, he said it’s important these people get tested.
Bloomfield specified they’re looking to test symptomatic people, anyone who visited a location of interest, and anyone who had contact with the people. The last two groups didn’t have to be symptomatic to get a test.
Ardern said naming the woman is a matter for health and police. She’s asked them to consider this.
Ardern’s message to the person still unaccounted for is for them to come forward and get tested. This will ensure they can protect those around them, like family and friends. “That is by far the simplest path forward from here.”
Bloomfield has a high level of confidence health staff will be vaccinated.
Australia’s experience shows adhering to restrictions over time is difficult. That’s why they made minor changes to the settings in Auckland.
The option to gather outdoors is safer than gathering indoors, she said.
This is the kind of thinking they’ve been doing as they move forward.
There’s nothing to suggest, at the moment, that case numbers are being linked back to people’s ability to mingle outdoors with other bubbles.
She said there’s been a “small pattern” in the area of construction, food delivery and taxi services. These are “small pockets” of cases, she said. They are conducting surveillance testing to see if it’s a widespread issue.
Hospitalisation rates also matter, but, again, this isn’t the only thing to focus on.
Ardern said the ability for an individual to ask questions about the vaccine and talk to a professional on the spot made a difference.
On her trip, she also saw some young people who attended just to see what the go was.
It’s not just about having a vaccination site on the corner, they need to be proactive.
Here’s what we learned:
* Auckland will remain in alert level 3 for at least another week with Cabinet reviewing the settings on Monday.
* Waikato and Northland will be in level 3 until 11.59pm on Thursday, for now. Cabinet will be meeting on Wednesday to decide if this happens.
* Vaccine mandates will be introduced in the education and health workforce. The deadline for teachers and support staff is January 1, the deadline for health and disability workers in high-risk settings is December 1.