Takeaway outlets and their customers are being warned to stick to Level 3 rules after a bumpy start to trading in a post-lockdown world.
Police needed to be called to an Auckland BurgerFuel restaurant on the first night of Level 3 after swarms of customers descended upon them with little care shown for physical distancing.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had a stern message for all involved yesterday, saying BurgerFuel “certainly didn’t fulfil their obligations”.
The issue of groups congregating outside stores without appropriate distancing is one that’s been seen around the country, prompting Ms Ardern to remind Kiwis why the Level 3 rules need to be followed.
“The rules are ultimately in place for a reason and that reason is to keep us safe but to also move us as quickly as we can into other alert levels,” she says.
Businesses have been warned that non-compliance with those rules could mean closure, while the Restaurant Association has asked customers to exercise caution as outlets adjust to the new way of trading at Level 3.
A top official from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also warned against complacency after saying New Zealand’s been world-leading in its response to Covid-19.
Western Pacific incident manager Abdi Mahamud says, “We have to be very cautious moving forward, so we don’t fall into a sense of ‘we did it.’”
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Close call for returning Kiwis
The Government has revealed it rejected a Ministry of Health recommendation to shut down the border completely, even to returning Kiwis, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Foreign Minister Winston Peters says the recommendation was “understandable and appropriate advice” from a health perspective, but it’s “inconceivable that we will ever turn our backs on our own”.
The Prime Minister also says leaving Kiwis stuck overseas was never an option.
However, one expert says that by not closing borders completely, New Zealand “squandered our major advantage” in the fight against Covid-19 – the country’s isolated geography.
Meanwhile, New Zealand had two new cases of the virus yesterday.
One of the country’s worst-hit regions for Covid-19 is also confident it’s turned a corner. The Southern District Health Board currently has 14 active cases compared with more than 100 a couple of weeks ago.
They say the Bluff wedding cluster – the country’s largest with 98 cases – is also under control.
Students stay away from schools
While 40,000 students were expected to attend schools around the country yesterday, only 12,000 turned up, representing just 1 per cent of the roll.
Around 8000 children attended early childcare centres. Those centres deemed the first day a successful start, with the small number of children attending making it easier to get through the extra duties required of them.
However the continued absence of many students from schools is causing concern for vulnerable children.
There’s been a dramatic drop in the number of children reported to Oranga Tamariki during lockdown. It’s hoped the return to school for some kids will help make cases of abuse or neglect more obvious.
Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft says there’s a current lack of independent eyes on children and he suspects the rate of abuse and neglect is much higher than what’s currently being reported.
Iwi checkpoints continue
With iwi-led safe zones from Ōpōtiki to the East Cape credited with keeping Covid-19 out of their communities, organisers say checkpoints will likely continue until the end of Alert Level 3.
Te Whānau-ā-Apanui spokesperson Rawiri Waititi says there’s been a strong police presence supporting their safe zone.
Meanwhile, iwi volunteers at a new checkpoint in South Taranaki say the occupants of hundreds of vehicles they stopped this week didn’t meet the criteria to be driving under Level 3.
They say they discovered tourists travelling the country and locals returning from holidays over the long weekend.
However, a family working in essential health services say they were disappointed to be turned away from their local beach at Pakiri by iwi blocking access to it this week.
They say they noticed others were allowed to drive through to the beach.
Police say they’re aware of the matter and have met with local iwi to discuss concerns around community safety at Level 3.
Scientists searching for answers
Scientists around the world are still working to learn more about Covid-19 and whether or not someone who’s been infected with the virus ends up with any immunity to it.
It’s a big question that is crucial to developing treatments and vaccines, as well as in helping governments decide when to relax lockdown measures.
Meanwhile, Newsroom has also looked at the logistical issues of manufacturing enough of a potential vaccine for 7.8 billion people – and asks if New Zealand should look to produce its own.
Other news of note this morning:
New Zealand’s eight universities say the readmission of foreign students is the best way to fix the serious financial woes facing the tertiary sector.
The epidemic select committee has been told GPs are suffering low morale and feeling abandoned during the Covid-19 crisis.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds have announced the birth of their baby boy.
One of India's best-known exports to Hollywood, Slumdog Millionaire star Irrfan Khan, has died.
ACC has partnered with TVNZ for a new show which promotes exercise among older people.
And a Palmerston North coffee shop has found a unique way to serve coffee to its customers while sticking to the strict no contact rules of Alert Level 3.
We got to take our annual peek at some of the gifts received by MPs over the past year yesterday, with the office of the Speaker releasing the Register of Pecuniary and Other Specified Interests.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was showered with a range of gifts, including tickets for Elton John’s concert and tickets to U2’s show from lead singer Bono.
Meanwhile, helicopter flights were a theme amongst National MPs, with nine of them declaring they were gifted a free ride.
And if you fancy scrolling through the full 77-page report into our MPs’ assets, debts and gifts, you can do so here.