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Morning Briefing August 14: Lockdown decision looms as Covid cluster spreads

Auckland’s new Covid-19 cluster is spreading across the city with two more Auckland schools and a pre-school closed due to confirmed cases of the virus.

Source: Getty

Glamorgan School in Torbay, Southern Cross Campus in Māngere East and Taeaofou | Puaseisei Preschool have now closed their doors, while a student at MIT has also tested positive for Covid-19.

The Auckland cluster currently stands at 17 cases and officials warn it will likely get bigger. 

Several places outside of Auckland are also on high alert after more details about a Rotorua holiday taken by those infected with Covid-19.

The trip included a visit to Taupō and a stop-off in Hamilton. There’s also concern for a Waikato rest home that was visited by one of the new cluster cases. This timeline charts the movements of those involved.

Meanwhile, the Government has revealed a big change to the way the country manages confirmed cases of Covid-19, with all new cases to be managed in isolation facilities rather than staying at home. 

Cabinet is meeting this afternoon to discuss extending the current three-day lockdown period with a decision due to be announced at 5.30pm. 

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Peters points finger at 'breach'

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has told Australian media Auckland’s new cluster of cases could be linked to a breach at a quarantine facility.

He says he was tipped off by a New Zealand journalist and expects information on the source of the outbreak to be released soon.

Megan Woods, the Minister in charge of isolation centres, pushed back at the claims, saying there’s no known connection to the new cases yet. 

As officials move to pinpoint the source of the new outbreak, two experts have claimed Covid-19 could been have spreading in Auckland for weeks, with dozens of people already infected.

The Ministry of Health is also testing surfaces at Americold cold storage facilities as part of their investigations; however, a top infectious disease specialist says it’s unlikely the outbreak originated from imported goods

Nats accused of 'self-serving' moves

Meanwhile, the politicking around the new Auckland cluster stepped up a gear yesterday.

The National Party has been accused of self-serving behaviour by casting doubt on the Government's decision-making over the resurgence.

NZ First’s Winston Peters says National is “undermining” democracy while the Government “focuses solely on protecting the health of New Zealanders”.

Several parties also attacked National leader Judith Collins’ suggestions about delaying the upcoming election.

Greens co-leader James Shaw (who’s awaiting the results of his own Covid-19 test) says National is calling for a delayed election out of concern for their own self-interest, not democracy.

The Opportunities Party went further, saying the National Party’s suggestion to push back the election date was a “Trumpian response”

More support for businesses?

Additional support could be on the way for businesses if further restrictions are imposed on the country following today’s Cabinet decision.

ASB estimates Auckland's return to Level 3 and the rest of the country sitting at Level 2 will cost the economy more than $400 million per week.

However, businesses around the country are being reminded that many of them can still operate if they’re essential, contactless, observe physical distancing and promote contact tracing.

Detailed guidelines on who can and can’t work at Levels 2 and 3 can be found here.

Victims prepare for sentencing

The sentencing of the Christchurch mosque shooter is set to begin in just 10 days if Christchurch remains at Alert Level 2.

The court is weighing up how the latest Covid-19 outbreak may affect the hearing.

Victims like Taj Kamran say the situation is adding to his stress after also learning his family has been denied access to New Zealand to support him through the process.

More than 50 people are currently in managed isolation so they can attend the sentencing.

Other news of note this morning: 

Israel and the United Arab Emirates have struck a historic peace agreement.

Experts say fears about the safety of a vaccine for Covid-19 could put people off receiving it and see the country fall short of achieving herd immunity.

Jacinda Ardern says she'll be keeping a "close eye" on possible price gouging of face masks.

Support for a convicted child rapist in Northland is causing alarm for those who work with victims of sexual abuse. 

Bookings to Australia have been put on further hold by Air New Zealand.

And what Covid-19 rules do you follow when you live on the Auckland-Waikato border? Seven Sharp attempts to answer that question.

And finally...

Source: Seven Sharp

With face masks flying off the shelves and crafty sewers hard at work to whip up reusable options, Seven Sharp decided to test out some less-conventional face coverings that anyone can fashion at home.

Using an Ashley Bloomfield lookalike (that looks nothing like Ashley Bloomfield), reporter Mary-Jane Aggett tested out masks made from socks, undies and a bra.

Hilary Barry happily modelled the bra mask on last night’s show, because that’s what 2020 has come to – and the demonstration might be just what you need this Friday morning.