Extended borders, KFC smuggling and Covid testing

The prime minister announced Auckland's alert level change, the new MIQ booking system started, testing for the Waikato coronavirus scare got underway and the police revealed they caught gang associates heading into Auckland with a car load of KFC. RNZ

Confirmation of Auckland's move down to Covid-19 alert level 3 at midnight Tuesday was the main coronavirus news for Monday as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern marked a month and four days since the Delta variant outbreak began.

It was an eventful day for updates on the virus - including 22 new community cases, the first day of the new managed isolation and quarantine booking system, the Māori King endorsing the Pfizer vaccine, updates on the scare in rural Waikato - and gang associates nabbed with a car load of KFC crossing the Tāmaki Makaurau border.

Auckland to change alert levels

Auckland will move to alert level 3 from 11.59pm on Tuesday night, and stay in level 3 for at least two weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday afternoon.

The rest of the country will remain in level 2, but will move from gatherings of 50 up to 100.

Meanwhile, part of northern Waikato has been issued a section 70 order, requiring people who live or work there to stay at home.

"We are not stepping out of level 4 because the job is done, but nor are we moving because we don't think we can achieve the goal of stamping out Covid-19 - we are moving because level 3 still provides a cautious approach while we continue to stamp out Covid-19," says Ardern.

"It means staying in your bubble, it means contactless transactions and keeping your distance. It means we say thank you to Auckland for their tireless work, and we collectively keep going."

Section 70 order for northern Waikato

A steady flow of people have been going through a testing centre near Kaiaua on the Firth of Thames following the discovery of three Covid-19 cases in the area. Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae.

Part of northern Waikato has been issued a section 70 order, requiring people who live or work there to stay at home.

The move was announced at Monday's post-Cabinet media conference by Director of General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

Bloomfield says he's issuing a section 70 order requiring people who live or work in the area around Mangatangi, in northern Waikato, to stay at home. Ardern says it's effectively a "bespoke level 4".

Bloomfield says the order is for people living in an area north of SH2 centred on Mangatangi.

"That will effectively extend the road boundary to the east of Maramarua ... and also to the southeast of Miranda on the Firth of Thames."

It comes after three people in one family in Whakatīwai tested positive for Covid-19 after it was found a member of their household tested positive while on electronic bail from Auckland's Mount Eden prison.

Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson says the prisoner should never have been bailed outside Auckland.

Meanwhile, residents in the area have turned out in force to get tested for Covid-19.

At least 250 people had been tested by midday at a pop-up testing centre at Wharekawa Marae, just up the road from Kaiaua.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says there's evidence the Waikato cases are likely linked to one of the current clusters.

Questions Raised of Mangatangi Cases

Coromandel MP  Scott Simpson says he's feeling for the wider Mangatangi community who he knows will comply with tough new restrictions, but fully understands their anger and frustration.

"The Prime Minister says she’s had Covid curve balls thrown in the past, but this curve ball was delivered to Mangatangi by systemic incompetence.

"Locals and I need answers to the question as to how a remand prisoner was able to travel from Auckland under Level 4 restrictions to a Level 2 area.

"We need to know whether this was a failure within the Department of Corrections, the court system, or from those enforcing the Auckland Level 4 boundary.

"In the meantime, I’m sure that locals will do the very best to keep themselves and their families safe. I know they will all be wanting to do the best they can, even though the restrictions are tough and difficult for them all."

New cases

There were 22 new cases of Covid-19 in the community, the Ministry of Health confirmed.

Three of the new cases are in Whakatīwai in Waikato but are being counted in the Auckland total, the ministry says.

That brings the total number of community cases in the current outbreak to 1071. There are 1051 in Auckland (677 of whom have recovered) and 17 in Wellington (all of whom have recovered).

The ministry said 17 of today's 22 new community cases have been epidemiologically linked. Five are yet to be linked.

In total, 1039 cases in the current cluster have been epidemiologically linked (12 unlinked from the past fortnight).

There are 10 epidemiologically linked subclusters. Of these, two are active, seven are contained and one is dormant.

Thousands miss MIQ spots

There was disappointment and frustration for the 22,000 New Zealanders trying to get home through the MIQ system who missed out on places on Monday morning.

At least 25,000 people were vying for a place using a new 'virtual lobby system'.

Just 3000 of them, who were randomly given a spot at the front of the queue, were able to get a booking for rooms from September through to December.

The new system allows people to access the 'virtual lobby' - they have one hour to get in, and from there they are put into a randomised queue and given a spot when they reach the front.

Another room release is planned for next week.

Māori King endorses Pfizer vaccine

Māori King Tuheitia and other senior figures have banded together to encourage Māori to get their Covid-19 vaccines.

Tuheitia, along with the Tumuaki o te Kiingitanga, Anaru Tamihana, and the Ariki o Tuwharetoa, Tā Tumu Te Heuheu, have all endorsed the Pfizer vaccine.

They say they have all had it, and are encouraging others to protect their whānau and whakapapa.

"This is an important step in ensuring our reo, our Tikanga and everything about being Māori stays here for generations to come," the trio said in their signed statement.

Gang associates caught with cash and KFC

Police say the offenders were found with "a car boot full" of KFC. Photo: NZ Police.

Police arrested two gang associates they say were trying to get past Auckland's border on a back road, with a large quantity of cash and KFC.

Police says the pair were pulled over while officers were patrolling back roads near the border.

They were found with more than $100,000 in cash and "a car boot full" of KFC.

"Officers noticed a suspicious looking vehicle travelling on a gravel road, and upon seeing the police car the vehicle did a U-turn, and sped off, trying to evade police," a statement said.

When the car did pull over, officers found they had come from Hamilton and were trying to get into Auckland.

The vehicle was searched, and empty ounce bags were also found, alongside the stack of takeways.


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@Slim Shady

Posted on 21-09-2021 12:42 | By morepork

It still allowed the clusters to be contained and the case numbers would have been far worse if lockdown had not been implemented as quickly as it was. Nevertheless, I agree that total eradication looks like being a pipe dream... They need to continue to the end and then evaluate, but the constant violations and incompetence are making it unlikely we can eradicate the virus through lockdowns and testing. Vaccination is the most promising avenue for control of it. Having now had my second shot, I thought I’d feel relieved, but I don’t. I’m glad I did it, but we are still a long way from "normalcy". I’m still staying home more than I used to...

To Most Aucklanders

Posted on 21-09-2021 08:13 | By

Sincerest congratulations to all those that stuck to the rules. THANK YOU for your commitment, compassion to others and honesty. Outstanding effort.


Posted on 21-09-2021 07:59 | By

So the elimination strategy is finally over. And so it should be. The obsession with “stamp it out” is ridiculous and is just more spin. Do people really think they can, or need to, live with closed borders, MIQs, checkpoints and rules by the bucketload? The whole thing has more holes than a sieve. It has since day one. And every time it springs another leak they invent more rules and “restrictions”. Insane power trip from politicians, bureaucrats and ‘experts’. Totally unnecessary with vaccinations available.