October 19, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

New Zealand’s largest city will remain in an unchanged lockdown for at least another two weeks, at the COVID-19 outbreak there continues.

Auckland has been in lockdown for over 60 days now, and yesterday another 57 cases were reported there, with a further three in Waikato, which is the other region of New Zealand which remains at Alert Level 3 – the highest level of restrictions currently in place across the OECD, according to one measure.

The rest of New Zealand remains at Level 2 restrictions, which removes the lockdown environment, but imposes heavy restrictions on activities like business events, which can proceed with a limit of 100 attendees.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there had been a call for Auckland’s restrictions to be increased, in the form of a return to Level 4 restrictions for a circuit breaker two week period, however it was not believed a return to harsher restrictions would have much of an impact on case numbers.

In a memo to members on Monday night, after the Prime Minister’s announcement, Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) Chief Executive Lisa Hopkins said it “bitter” news that the majority of the country would not be granted any more freedoms yet.

“Every part of the country is suffering, but Auckland is bearing the brunt in many ways,” she wrote.

“To date, our largest city has lost $5 billion. The inability for Aucklanders to travel across borders has meant their lack of presence is felt in other regions as well, impacting on hospitality and tourism receipts, not to mention the extraordinary amount of business events impacted.”

Ardern flagged that another financial support package was on the way for Auckland businesses, and that the Government would outline the path out of heavy restrictions on Friday, with the unveiling of its “COVID protection framework” which will also set a vaccination target for this to occur.

“The target will be high, to give us the greatest confidence possible,” said Ardern

“We’ve looked closely at the evidence overseas and what works and what doesn’t, and we’ll be aligning our target with those countries that have managed the transition from restrictions to vaccination in the safest way possible, but regardless we hope that this will give Aucklanders especially as much certainty as possible about what lies ahead and, importantly, a goal that we can all rally behind.”