NZ to move to Level 2 on Thursday; businesses can re-open; social gatherings limited to 10 people and restricted to 2 hours per venue in most cases

NZ to move to Level 2 on Thursday; businesses can re-open; social gatherings limited to 10 people and restricted to 2 hours per venue in most cases
Jacinda Ardern. Getty Images.

New Zealand will move to a restricted version of COVID-19 Alert Level 2 on Thursday, May 14.

Businesses - including retail stores, malls, cafes, restaurants, hair salons, cinemas, public spaces and gyms - can re-open. Bars will need to wait an extra week until May 21, unless they serve patrons meals - not just drinks.

Schools can re-open on Monday, May 18.

New rules around socialising will be introduced at Level 2. Gatherings will be restricted to 10 people both inside and outside the home.

This means no more than 10 people can attend religious gatherings, funerals, weddings and public meetings.

However a group of say nine people will be able to go to a public venue like a restaurant, where they will have to be separated from other groups, seated and served by the same waiter/waitress. 

Another new rule is that people won't be able to gather at business premises (other than their workplaces) for more than two hours. 

So the group of nine mentioned above will have to leave the restaurant after two hours. The group will however be able to go to another restaurant or bar for another two hours. 

Other social gatherings outside the house, like weddings, funerals and religious gatherings must also be limited to two hours. 

Cabinet will review these restrictions in 14 days' time. 

A number of social distancing, contact tracing and health/safety rules remain in place at Level 2.

See the official COVID-19 website for more information. 

Output expected to be 85% to 91% that of normal levels

Treasury and the Reserve Bank expect direct economic output to be between 85% and 91% that of normal levels at Level 2. 

Percentage of normal time GDP produced at each alert level
  RBNZ Treasury
L1 96.2 90-95
L2 91.2 85-90
L3 81 75
L4 63 60

NOTE: This story has been updated a number of times as new information has come to hand. 

Here's a copy of the speech Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivered on Monday afternoon, announcing the move to Level 2:

I want to start today by acknowledging the sacrifices New Zealanders have made over the six and a half weeks we have been in Alert Levels 4 and 3 in order to beat COVID-19.

Be it those who lost loved ones and were unable to say goodbye and mourn properly. 

Be it the children who wrote to me about missing birthdays, and there were many of them, or the many who cancelled weddings or didn’t mark anniversaries. 

Be it the jobs that have been lost and the businesses that owners spent years building up only to watch it and their workforce suffer terribly. 

But for all of that, Kiwis from all walks of life were resolute and determined.

Determined that this was a war we could eventually win, but only if we acted together. So we formed a team, and as a team we created a wall of protection for one another. 

Over the weekend I read a letter from a mother who spoke about what that team effort has meant to her.

Her young son has compromised immunity and as a result is on constant medication. When COVID arrived in the form of a global pandemic she was terrified. But she was writing to me out of sheer relief. There may be no cure, no vaccine for COVID yet, but there was each and every one of you. Every single Kiwi who made the decision to stay home. To make sacrifices. You did that for her boy.

You did it for someone’s mother. Someone’s father. Someone’s child. You created a wall that meant the virus couldn’t reach those that it could easily take. And for that, there are many people who are grateful to you – their team of 5 million. 

Case numbers remain low, and in the last week we have had two days in a row of no cases. 

By the end of Level 4 our R value, the number of people each case goes on to infect was 0.4. Under Level 3 it has remained low. Experts tell us that if the R value stays below 1 we will eventually achieve our goal of elimination.

As of today we have only 90 New Zealanders recorded as having the virus of whom only 2 are in hospital. 

None of that has been through luck, but hard work. While we have been battling the virus, we have also built up our health system specifically to act as a defence. 

We can now undertake up to 12,000 tests a day. 3.5 per cent of the entire population has been tested and our testing rates are amongst the highest in the world per-capita, ahead of countries like Australia, the UK, Germany, Singapore and South Korea. 

A lot of work has gone into building up our contact tracing capability. Dr Ayesha Verrall’s report has been instrumental in this regard and the majority of the recommendations have been implemented. 

We can now contact trace 185 cases a day and have capacity to contact 10,000 people a day through a new national call centre, established since the beginning of the outbreak. 

Identifying new cases of the virus quickly through testing and rapid contact tracing can be 90 per cent as effective as a vaccine in stopping the spread of the virus. But I cannot emphasise enough that speed is of the essence. The clock starts as soon as someone feels sick. If you have COVID, we need every minute to find the people you have been in contact with and isolate them before they are in contact with someone else.

In short, if you have a sniffle, or a sore throat, or a cough – get advice and get a test. Quickly. Please don’t be a stoic Kiwi.

If you do your bit, we all must keep doing ours. That means continuing our strong border controls, hand hygiene and physical distancing which have, and will continue, to be our primary wall of defence against COVID. 

They’re tools that have worked.

But we all know there is more to do. We may have won a few battles, but we have not won the war.

We are still recording cases most days.

New information about the virus indicates it could be spread prior to a person becoming symptomatic, meaning it can be passed on by seemingly healthy people. 

And the scientists who have advised us so well to date, say there is still a chance of silent spread in the future and therefore cases taking off again.  

So, today I am announcing that Cabinet agrees we are ready to move into Level 2, to open up the economy, but to do it as safely as possible.

Let me set out how we will do that.

On Thursday this week retail, malls, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and other public spaces including playgrounds and gyms, can reopen. All will be required to have physical distancing and strict hygiene measures in place. 

You can begin to move around New Zealand, but space yourself out especially if you’re using public transport. 

And of course health services will restart. 

On Monday 18 May, all children and young people will be able to return to school and early learning. This staging is to give parents, teachers and education facilities time to plan. 

And finally, on Thursday 21 May, bars will be able to open with all the requirements set out last week, including that seating must be provided, there must be space between tables, and there mustn’t be multiple waiters and waitresses serving a single table.

We have left bars till last because they do pose the most risk, as we can see from South Korea that recently opened up there bars, only to close them again after one person created an outbreak of 40 people and 1500 tests.

While we have put in place measures and expectations to make all hospitality as safe as possible, these few extra days really do give us a chance to lock in the data from level three and feel more secure that we’re ready for this move.  

Overall though, the upshot is that in 10 days’ time we will have reopened most businesses in New Zealand, and sooner than many other countries around the world. But that fits with our plan – go hard, go early – so we can get our economy moving again sooner, and so we get the economic benefit of getting our health response right.  

And so far, we have.

But there does have to be a new normal. And that normal means that we will be breaking out of our bubbles, we will be around more people. But we can do that, and get more activity going, if we balance that with keeping our distance, and keeping our social gatherings small for now.  

Our strength so far has been our willingness to learn about this virus and change the way we behave to beat it. 

And we have learnt a lot, especially from our clusters. If you’ve followed their origin, you’ll know that are a slice of Kiwi life. They have started at wedding receptions, stag dos, a conference in Queenstown that included drinks and socialising, a bar in Matamata. There is a theme – when we come together to socialise in large numbers with one another, there is risk. The best insurance policy we have for that risk, is to reduce the size of our socialising for now. And that is what the Director General of Health has recommended we do, for now. 

Parties, big social events or anything designed to be for mixing and mingling won’t be allowed to happen for groups larger than 10 people. 

Gatherings at home, need to be capped at 10. Church and religious events, weddings, funerals, stag dos – all must be limited to 10 for now.  

And if you’re wanting to head to a restaurant, or a bar, they won’t be able to take group bookings larger than 10. This, alongside social distancing, is our insurance policy. 

And why 10? Simple. If something goes wrong with a group of 10, that’s much easier to contain, much easier to contact trace, and much less likely that if something goes wrong that the whole country will have to experience more restrictions.

That doesn’t mean you won’t see larger gatherings than this. People will be at the movies – but they’ll be spaced out. They’ll be watching sports, but spaced out. People might go to show, but they’ll be spaced out. You’ll see bars and restaurants open – but they’ll be required to have people seated, and spaced out.

We have done what we can to prioritise opening up businesses, but just alter the way we work within them for the next wee while. This strikes the balance between getting the economy moving, but also making sure we have got the next stage right.

I know that many New Zealanders are looking forward to catching up with friends and family, and from this Thursday you can. 

But for now it needs to be small. This is a transition out of bubbles, where you can see people you haven’t seen in a while; you just can’t do it all at once. 

I should also add that if you have a family that is larger than 10, you don’t need to throw anyone out of the house. We are being pragmatic. But we don’t want you having a big gathering yet.

This is also one of the reasons we decided to allow travel again as we signalled last week. It wasn’t so much the movement around the country – it was what people did when they got there that mattered. So go and see your mum – just don’t turn it into a massive family reunion while you’re at it. Instead, maybe visit a local tourism site or support a local business.

We will look at these remaining restrictions again in two weeks’ time and if our numbers continue to look good the number of people you can socialise with, and hold events with, will grow.

Last Thursday when announcing what Level 2 looks like I said the key rule is to play it safe. That we all need to take individual responsibility for our actions and continue to behave like the virus is still amongst us, especially when in public and among people we don’t know.  

At level 4 and 3 we had success because staying home meant we broke the chain of transmission. We simply weren’t in contact with others to spread the virus. 

At Level 2 we are now out and about again, just about all parts of the economy are opening up again. What we have balanced in these decisions, is how we can do that, get restaurants opens, malls open, shops open, but also how we can keep them open.

That’s why we are asking you all to be incredibly careful as we get back to a new safer normal. None of us can assume COVID isn’t with us.

So with that in mind, a reminder of the golden rules of Level 2.

• Keep your distance from other people when you are out in public, including on transport.

• If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t go to work or school. Don’t socialise. This should be a really low bar.

• If you have symptoms of cold or flu call your doctor or Healthline immediately and get tested.

• Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Do it properly.

• Don’t get together socially or mix and mingle with more than 10 people at once.

• And keep a track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen. 

Your efforts New Zealand have got us to this place ahead of most of the world and without the carnage COVID inflicted in many other places. 

But there are risks ahead, so please be vigilant at level 2. Irresponsible behaviour will take us backwards. 

Getting to this position early has saved jobs and businesses but there is a long road ahead to full recovery, and things will continue to be very, very tough before they get better. We are looking to provide more support for the businesses most affected, and to do that soon.

This week the Government will release our Budget, our plan to respond to the economic toll the virus has caused. 

It will be one of many steps we take in our efforts to rebuild together.

In fact that is what the Budget is called, “Rebuilding together”. At its heart it is the simple idea that our team of 5 million has united to beat the virus, now together we can also unite to rebuild our economy. 

And that there is an opportunity to build back even better addressing issues like inequality, our run-down infrastructure and challenges to our environment.

The Finance Minister will have much, much more to say on that on Thursday. 

For now we are in Level 3 for just two more days. 

From Thursday when you wake up, play it safe.

Remember that wall of defence we built together as a team, now rests with every one of us. So when you’re out and about acknowledge your fellow team mates. Enjoy being out more, and seeing others – but keep it small, keep your distance, and be kind. 

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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166 Comments

Sounds like Jacinda said if a pub serves food, they can open as a restaurant. Guess I'll see 9 of the boys at the local tavern for a good meal and half a dozen drinks this Friday.

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Sounds like a bloody good idea as long as you still have a job and can afford to part with the cash !

Yes, if they currently open on Good Friday/Anzac day they will be able to open if they can meet the distancing/serving rules.

Was that a hint for them? But surely councils have to make sure that they are registered for food and food hygiene laws?

And another 10 socially spaced from your 9, and another 10 just past them, and so on.

If there are still cases reported by 18 May, I am afraid that we will go back to level 3 and 4 after two weeks.

Let's see.

The legal issues that have been raised re L4, and the language used today by PM would suggest we aren't going back into L3/L4.

Flicking between levels wiould just be chaotic and IMO is unlikely to be followed by the general public anyway.

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Opening bar and expecting drunken people to be responsible is a huge mistake, after seen what happened in South Korea.

Its the Kiwi way - we cant have a good time without a drink -

One infected barman can infect hundreds simply by handling the glasses.

Imagine how much food one infected supermarket checkout operator handles, yet as far as I know that somehow didn’t happen in the last 7 weeks.

Could it be that the risk was never there?

Hand sanitiser and perspex screens for the last several weeks, so we may never know.
But, it only takes one.
Internationally meat works are the biggest risk in the food chain.

Also, you can bet your bottom dollar that most people aren't going to get tested with a sniffle or a cough.

The herd is about to test the herd, stampede style!

You can only test if someone requests it - how often to you go to work or catch a bus and see/hear people obviously sick but "battling on" - its only a sniffle

Add in winter, and close damp NZ homes... Recipe for disaster when we haven't yet eliminated it IMO.

There are only 90 active cases in the whole country!
If we cannot contain 90 cases, then this entire thing is a massive disaster.. shemozzle.

90 *known* active cases

What.. 7-8 weeks of lockdown, hardly any cases to deal with.. and we still have unknown cases? Why did we even bother.. don't even think about opening up the border.

We have only 90 Known cases, and kiwis returning home could carry the Covid to us.
As seen a woman after 14 day isolation tested positive.
Again, we can not have the border restriction forever.

That's the whole idea of 14 day quarantine - I do agree about the border restriction - maintaining strict entry requirements is going to be the hard part long term.

UK has proudly announced 14 day iso.

Starting end of the month
Self iso

Reminds me of a Pakistani friend.

Asif.

It is easy when in lockdown to contain it and potentially eliminate it, but many people have been crying to get out of lockdown. If we fail, then it will likely be because we existed lockdown too early. Many experts have been saying we needed to stay in both level 4 and 3 for longer.

Remember this virus started with just 1 case.

The only people who say we should extend 4 and 3 are still quoting Ferguson and Fauci, both long discredited.
ed.

Perhaps this might help you understand https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc_JZARit8w

I would take all those drunk people and put them in govt...we’d be far better off.

With you there. All of our clusters have involved social occasions, drink and noise, where people have to get up close and personal and shout to be heard. Playing with fire, I think.

NZ might be lucky and get to the point of eradication. The next few weeks will tell.

If NZ gets only to elimination (where it currently is) then personal contact with others (at 1 metre or even less) even in groups of <=10 may well see R(eff) go above 1 again. R0 is somewhere around 2.5 (much less than the group size of 10 allowed) which cascades as 1, 2.5, 6.25, 15.6, 39, 98, 244, 610, 1529 and we would add the total number of cases NZ already has with only 9 new full sets of transmission.

The whole world may need to move to level 2m (metres) where everyone stays 2m apart (except bubbles) to get on top of this virus. This is the ballpark distance where transmission is low and would keep R(eff) < 1.

R may go back above 1 with the 10 person rule but it's not going to go anywhere near 2.5. The R0 number is what you get with no restrictions so it includes situations with mass gatherings which significantly skew the average.

Agreed, R(eff) is not likely to get near R0=2.5 again as there is contract tracing & tighter restrictions could be put in place again. The point is that gatherings of 10 > R0, and thus R(eff) depends heavily on the contact tracing being good enough to keep R(eff) <=1 if there is transmission, especially given some transmission is asymptomatic.

I think we're more or less agreeing except for one point. The 2.5 number only happens when you have zero restrictions, because you get crowds with 500+ people that generate dozens or hundreds of infections in one hit. These incidents are what disproportionately skew the average spread rate higher, it doesn't mean that if the crowd size is above 2.5 the R will go back to 2.5. You seem to be thinking in terms of most people who get infected will infect around about the average, in which case you would be correct, but that's not how the distribution actually looks. It's more like lots of infected people infect almost no one else and a few infected people infect lots of people, and it averages out to 2.5.

Because of that when you take out the super spreader events the average automatically drops well below 2.5 regardless of anything else. You could have no contract tracing at all and you still wouldn't get back to anywhere near 2.5. But yes to your point, the better the contract tracing is the larger the max gathering number can go without R blowing out.

Agreed, the distribution of infection spreaders will be a skewed distribution, however one only has to look at Singapore (clusters of migrant workers) and South Korea (1 super spreader at a nightclub causing them to close down again) to see how delicate the balance is to keep R(eff) < 1.

We did have contact tracing before lockdown tough.... Also quite tight social distancing in the weeks leading into lockdown. Basically we have rolled back time to where we were a month or so before lockdown at a cost of 20 odd billion dollars +. Except we are now quarantining people coming back into NZ.

You mean $50bn, the lolly scramble is just beginning.

No, NZ can't eradicate it, because eradication refers to getting cases in the entire world to zero. Elimination is getting cases down to a defined geographic area down to a defined number. eg Getting cases in NZ down to zero.. NZ hasn't yet eliminated it, and the PM even said today that we haven't eliminate it yet. That involves getting cases down to zero, and stamping out any new cases that popup.

With closed borders NZ could eradicate within NZ. R(eff) = 0

Elimination within NZ would be R(eff) <1 continuously.

But yes, worldwide eradication would be required to completely eradicate covid19.

Look up any dictionary . they mean literally the same thing. Please do not pretend they have different meanings.

Agreed, for non medical English.
The epidemiologists use the given contexts,

As time goes by R naturally drops as people with most virus friendly behaviour get infected and gain immunity. Not that that has had any chance to happen in NZ, but in many countries overseas the young and oblivious who indulge in many activities in crowds will be first wave of infections that when recovered leads to a much reduced tendency to spread amongst society as a whole.

We're assuming immunity is a reliable outcome with this thing. It sounds like this is still a lack of clarity on this.

i would have thought they left the malls closed until Monday to give them a whole week to sort out before the hoards show up,
watch what happens this Saturday, there will be crowds and no social distancing
it will be like when the fast food opened , give them some extra time to sort with smaller crowds

Isn't the limit 100 people per mall?

100 customers, in a place like St Lukes or Sylvia Park? not worth opening the doors, thats <0.5 customers per store, you'd need to have someone forcing them to speed shop to make it worthwhile.

Gatherings rules do not apply to public venues such as shopping malls and museums as long as people are not intermingling.
https://covid19.govt.nz/assets/resources/tables/COVID-19-alert-levels-de...

Depending on the likelihood of protests and riots, those numbers will be fluid and adjusted as the years go by.

Okay, now when is Level 1 ?

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Level 1 arrived last Friday from what I've seen!
General shops etc.may have still been closed, but that's about the only difference.

Good one, mate.

I'm picking 11th of June. I reckon it's done, dead and not in the wild.
If everyone has been isolating for 6 weeks - who's going to be infectious? Inbound travellers!!!

Some with Covid 14 days ago could still have infected a new person who is just showing symptoms now. Also will be interesting to see how many asymptomatic carriers floating around NZ.

People will attempt to social distance for about 1 week and naturally just go to level 1.

I suspect close contact in the malls, churches, bars, etc will result in the virus spreading throughout the country by mid Winter.

So you're saying crowds of believers will be our undoing?

Too late. :)

No, they can congregate in groups of 30 on a sports field apparently.

Or 1200 at a time if they stick to high schools?

So sports teams are allowed to play again?.

What about subs? how are they counted?

There is only one believer :) I hardly count as a crowd.

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I am sorry but I think that we need to accept the fact that this virus is not going away and will come back. The best we can do is isolate the sick and elderly and let the rest of us be exposed to it. Once about 60% of the herd have had it it will die out anyhow. If we are the last to figure this out then we will be the last country to get back to normal and as such will be an economic basket case.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/11/now-it-starts-again-new-co...

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Where is it going to come back from? Thin air? Exposed to what?
I'm not saying it won't come in again from offshore but I'm hoping the border quarantine measures are up to it for at least the near future.

100% of NZ needs to be tested every day for two weeks to be sure it is no longer in NZ. This is not happening therefore I suspect the infection is still out there waiting to start wave 2.

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Test near on 5 million people every day for 14 days? I want whatever you are smoking.. actually, no, it seems to have made you somewhat paranoid.

Which is why Foreign Buyer said that it's coming back.

Hahaha, this mass hysteria beggars belief!

Google "statistically significant sample size"

This is nonsense.
With rigorous quarantine at the border and with the 100 or so remaining active cases in quarantine/isolation, this country is on target for local elimination.
Do not buy into the myth of herd immunity being necessary for a long term solution. That's the excuse some countries have used to justify incompetent public health polices.
Herd immunity is only applicable where there is an effective vaccination or preexisting population immunity.
There is protection benefit gained by exposing 80% of a susceptible population to covid19 to provide immunity, if the most vulnerable die off first.

To be safe, people should just stay at home for the next 12 months to be absolutely sure. It’s the kind and caring thing to do.

I agree, it's going to come back as it will only take a few asymptomatic individuals to infect the nation. We can't lock away for ever.

Asymptomatic or not - tested or whatever - we've been in isolation for 6 weeks - they won't be infectious unless they've been stupid and continued having casual meetings on Tinder or in parks or something.

If the jury is still out whether immunity is produced once you recover why is Herd Immunity even a thing atm.

On the upside we are likely to see much better treatment protocols and understanding that makes it less damaging when it does come to NZ (Vit D and selenium for vegetarians, weight loss!! maybe hydroxychloroquine as prophylactic, remsivir, small viral dose at infection, convalescent plasma therapy, gene testing to identify higher risk immuno phenotype (research occurring now) perhaps even (long shot) a vaccine in 6 months . Between all these potentials for damage reduction maybe it will prove to have been worth it. Or not.

If you are right, which I think you are, that means this whole lockdown has been a complete waste of time and money. If you are right we should have just had gone into level 4 for 2 weeks so the hospitals could get ready, and then go back to level 1.

about 1/4 of the populate are vunerable. If we isolate them, good luck getting to 60% immunity.

Even if we got to 60% being exposed, there's no evidence of long term immunity yet.

About 2-4000 of lowest risk NZers, mostly people in their 50's would die to achieve 60-70% herd immunity

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I'm not convinced eradication has been the best option, we have little of no herd immunity. What if it mutates, as RNA viruses are prone to and comes back worse in the middle of winter?

Where's it going to come back from? Aussie most likely. Or a foreign student that evades quarantine somehow.

Ummmm, literally any other country for the short medium and long term? Are you simple?

How could anyone think that it's remotely possible to eliminate the virus? There was the smallest window of opportunity in China some time last year, but that's long gone.

Diseases can be kept out of countries that have eliminated it. That is why animals usually require 6 months quarantine. Perfectly possible to quarantine. The PM has already said that our borders will remain closed for a long time, which will likely be when the vaccine is released. Why spend 50billion getting rid of the virus, and then ruin it in for a few billion dollars of tourists money when then bring the virus in? When we can live a normal domestic life in NZ when it is eliminated without any further lockdowns. Other countries are going to live in 'lockdown lives' for months / years, with multiple waves and still suffer huge, if not greater economic harm. Plus all the social and mental harm that lockdowns cause when they go on for months and months. Older people in the UK may have to remain at home under lockdown until a vaccine comes along. Also no evidence that people won't be reinfected later on, and the post viral problems when you get the virus can be life changing, causing many other health problems. What NZ has done, is followed WHO's advice.

Likelihood of a vaccine in the next 2yrs is low. Also, most people don’t know that the best vaccines are only 60% effective, so hardly bullet proof. If elimination is the key, then reliance on a vaccine sounds like stupidity to me.

likelihood of an effective drug in the next 2 years is low too. Under usual conditions it takes about 20 years and costs about a billion dollars to develop a new drug. Remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine don't look that flash either.

OK Boomer

And how is that going to happen sunshine? Please don't eat me, wait for my brother, he's even simpler.

Just stay home for a few years, you’ll be safe there.

This has been about knocking ot off mainly so we did not over well the health services but secondly so we didn't get a mutation that would kill even more.

I agree, the only bit that made sense was the buying of time.

Then herd immunity would have made no difference.

we dont know it's a novel virus

My understanding is if it does mutate then immunity to the old version may provide no immunity to the new version. That's my lay understanding (I say 'may' because I think partial immunity can be a thing, not going to pretend I'm a virologist). That seems to be the main criticism of the herd immunity idea, along with the fact we don't know what long term effects it may have on people (eg apparently a lot of people who survived SARS1 ended up with chronic fatigue syndrome and other issues).
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mental-sars/alarming-mental-problems-...

The other problem being that to get a large enough % of the population infected to achieve herd immunity, by that point most of the people who are going to die from it will have died from it already. From what I gather you need 50-70% total population infected. Given the success most countries seem to be having keeping it out of rest homes even with a small % of population infected, it doesn't seem like it would be that easy to just let the low risk people get it and cordon off the rest.

Herd immunity doesn't work really work very well IMO unless all countries are doing it, because people in a country where they have gained herd immunity, those people who never got the virus are at high risk of getting it if they travel out of the country, to another country that hasn't gained herd immunity . But there is no evidence that people who had had the virus won't get reinfected, it is purely an experiment that the WHO doesn't appear to endorse. Maybe it it work, maybe it won't, but if it does or doesn't, it still causes major death which NZ has avoided. If we had the unofficial death rate of the UK quoted by Piers Morgan today, of 50k deaths, proportionally we would already have about 4000 people dead in NZ from this virus, and that is after they have tried to suppress the virus. I don't think people really appreciate how bad this virus is, and how much NZers have sacrificed to try and eliminate it.

we have little of no herd immunity
Agreed, easy to say in retrospect though. It's possible this model will play out. We're in the category of going into lockdown too early so the pain has been delayed. Moving forward I think the virus will replicate relatively quickly because there's no mandate to wear masks in crowded spaces. We should be on track for gaining herd immunity. I hope we take extra care of our elderly population from now on.

I haven't heard of heard immunity. How does that go? Should we wear earplugs?

Go and wash your mouth out with soap!

In the small print of what is allowed or not, massage parlours can open again so long as the clientele wear full PPE at all times.

Zip, Zap!?

Slip, Slop, Slap & Tickle?

Isn’t the slop at the end?

Full body condom and a P2 mask? I could see something along those lines come about in these crazy times.

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All those who called the response here over the top should eat their words. The UK is going into the greatest recession in 300 years and the covid 19 disaster will drag on there for months if not years with much of the economy shut or severely impacted. Ditto the US, Brazil, Italy, Spain and everywhere else that failed to act decisively. It seems Simon Bridges would have gone down the same path given his recent complaints.
I'm sure there will be clusters pop up here and there however things will be a lot better than much of the world.

Unfortunately we will all feel the economic pain of their collective stupidity as they drag the global economy down more than would have been the case had they acted responsibility.

Maybe the UK is just more honest.

How you can proclaim value for money before you even know the cost is beyond me. And there is no guarantee we are 'over it', whatever that means.

How you can claim the opposite, is a mystery too....we will never know what they outcome would have been if we didn't do this...maybe 'just a few old people" as many on here often quote,but who knows the outcome if it became rampant through lower socio economic areas like Sth Auckland with large amounts of people with compromised health and underlying conditions,who make up much of our health system,either as patients or as the hospital cleaners,orderlies etc.

Aye, and beyond that. Health system already pressured, winter approaching. What then might have been the fate for all the usual sick and injured, cardiac, oncology, accidents if the wards got to be piled up with CV19s. All of those don’t just run away and hide because there is a new kid in town do they!

Neither is necessary, we await the costs, which are just starting to roll in.

We do know 33,000 people were made unemployed to March to April 19th. Next month we get more news.

Maybe a year from now we'll be living in the costs, whatever they turn out to be.

Costs vs deaths. Measure the value of life virtue of the balance sheet. Very convenient for those that survive of course. Congratulations to those, in advance would therefore be in order, surely.

All ministers of Health make decisions every day which kill people. Which reminds me, where is ours?

Yep I ate mine long ago. The Level 4 lockdown was very worthwhile. Although I do think we have taken too long to go to Level 2.

Are you kidding? We're in the first 5 minutes of the first half. We haven't won the world cup yet Richie.

I guess, within a couple of months, we will find out how well we have controlled the virus or not.

The cluster developing at Waitakere Hospital (an offshoot of an earlier cluster) seem to indicate that there is still much room for improvement.

that was a cluster that was created by middle management not listening to staff, the nurses asked if they were rostered onto the covid ward they stay there and not move to other wards.
but some womble decided no its fine, most likely because too lazy to rework the rosters, so you ended up with 67 stood down and put into self isolation .
when dr blomfield was asked if that was a good idea he dodged the question putting it back onto the person at waitamata that made the decision.
but for that bad decision our numbers this week would have been really good

It has to show some issue with training or the PPE being used as well. Better to learn a lesson about complacency now than in a months time when the opportunity for community transmission has increased.

Middle management, commonly known as a clusterf@#$.

Watch Yes Minister, Hospital of the Year episode. Required viewing for Waikato DHB clerks.

Gubmint dropping the balls... again!

I think that Nurses would be fully justified in issuing a letter of no confidence in the Waitakere Hospital management and Board.

they wait until it happens then change the rosters, common sense out the window, same as any workplace management not listening to those at the coal face and pretending no one told them anything
https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2020/05/coronavirus-waitemata...

Oh whilst in this arena can someone explain why some rest homes, eg, Rymans, Radius, Summerset had the initiative to lock down their rest homes very early on but the MOH was asleep at the wheel? Duh!

because it ws obvious to us three weeks before we had he most at risk populations -- and that our only protection was to keep it out -- most NGOs planned and started l;knockdown 10 days earlier -- which if we had closed the borders then -- we would be talking 130 cases not 1500 and already all be back at work - with just toursim and hospitatliy buggered not eveything else as well

Having left it in a pigeon-hole for the requisite 14 days, first.

Gotta Isolate ;-)

I continue to be bewildered by the role schools play in social distancing...it would seem that all recommendations (apart from good hygiene) do not apply in the school setting. Having read some of the MOE directives a school can:
* Operate assemblies (A hundred + kids potentially) as long as the "moist breath zone" is considered.
* Operate in proximity of <1m from another person
* Mix classes & staff members between classes
...and other similar exceptions from that of other community groups/businesses.
Schools are also being told to assure the public that school is a safe place - because (I assume) the MOE has listened to about 50% of experts who say that it probably is safe and ignored the other 50% who say that it probably isn't a safe place!
I appreciate that you cannot have business open without school open - but surely some sort of comparable social distancing rules should be attempted - (or the dangers acknowledged) - otherwise what is the point of any of it?

Because the evidence points to adult transmission being the highest risk. Therefore high risk areas are places where adults congregate, such as, resthomes, churches, bars, hospitals, weddings, funerals, staff rooms...

Good news!

We can now be 'safe' tackling each other on sports fields in groups of 30. If you move to the sideline that 'safety' drops away like a knock-on, of course, but it reappears if you make a one metre gap.

We can even go for a coffee afterwards, but 'safety' only reappears if we break into sub-groups of 10 at the cafe.

Unless you are children, then you can gather 1200 at a time in high schools, because children are automatically immune. Until they walk home on public streets, obviously. Or go to a cafe.

That seems all very clear, if I'm not mistaken.

What’s that old thing about getting a committee to design a horse and ending up with a donkey !

In this case, I think a donkey is being generous !

The joy of laughing at the silliness!

A camel is a horse designed by a committee

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Ffs one minute the lockdown is too strict, now it's too loose.

What part of this is too subtle for you moronic "gotcha" nitpickers to understand?

It's about trying to return as much as possible to normal life while controlling the AVERAGE SPREAD RATE.

We locked down for eradication. If we don't get eradication then we locked down for nothing.

Actually we locked down to flatten the curve. Eradication only later became a mere possibility to be aimed at.

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nitpickers...closely followed by the the 'loopholers'...clowns who think it is clever to flout the rules and put forward some inane argument about how it is allowed on some technicality...FFS,they are treating us like adults,the balls in our court now,they have protected us from ourselves for as long as they could...

Personally I believe herd immunity as attempted in Sweden is a myth until I hear different
What I believe the NZ govt has achieved however is a Herd Obedience whereby hopefully enough of us have been made aware of the dangers enough to take sufficient notice of the rules to minimise future outbreaks although I hold a poor opinion on kiwis attitude to H&S.
Working overseas I always noticed that it was the kiwis who were always sniggering amongst themselves during safety briefings about all the safety shite. Walking past a kiwi building site it is easy to pick up several infractions of safety rules that are usually signed off and hanging on the perimeter fence.

What do you think is going to happen after 4 beers and drunken eyes meet across the room?

There is definitely a massive free rider problem with those following the social distancing measures carrying the dead weight 'freedom fighters.'

And I see from the very first comment on this page,the loopholers are already out and about...

It's not about too loose or to strict. It is about the contradiction and plain ignorance of risk.

30 People (plus subs, refs, and linesman) can literally tackle and lie all over each other while watched by a crowd of 100,

but 11 people can't attend a funeral.

You tell me what is more of a risk?

Yep so thinking of organising get together for team in weekend to re start season.probably be about 35 I suspect, but as we allowed play and practice we can't see what issue is now.

I agree. we should close down bars and limit team sports. Risks in funerals and church service is minimal when people follow safe distance rule and wear masks for precaution.

But the very reason for not allowing funerals and church services is that they do not follow safe distancing practices, the church in Korea being the prime example.. Contact sports like rugby and league, wrestling, martial arts etc. shouldn't be allowed, but things like golf, tennis, cricket are fine, so long as thee is some sort of distancing protocols in the changing rooms.

13
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What demographic disproportionately plays rugby? Young fit healthy people.

What demographic disproportionately goes to funerals? Old high risk people.

What is easier to contact trace, a rugby game where all players are known or a bar with 30 strangers mingling together?

You assume they are just plucking numbers out of thin air. THERE IS NO NO-RISK OPTION HERE. It's about taking small calculated risks based on the data now available and adjusting as necessary in an iterative process which is ALWAYS how it works in a situation like this.

Don't talk to me about understanding of risk, the mob calling for no-lockdown/release too soon/the-opposite-of-whatever-Jacinda-says have been totally risk illiterate on this from day one. There will be differences in the size of gatherings for different activities, GET OVER IT, having the exact same size limit for every activity would be totally nonsensical.

I get the feeling if it were Simon Bridge running the show making the same calls they would be applauded....think its just tribalism.

100%. "You need to re-open things!" "Okay we're re-opening things." "No you're doing it wrong!"

Counterproductive contrarianism every step of the way.

I agree with you post in the mostpart. I made no reference to a bar with 30 strangers. So no comparison there.

But if this is the logic:
"What demographic disproportionately plays rugby? Young fit healthy people.

What demographic disproportionately goes to funerals? Old high risk people."

Then surely we could just say "Old high risk people" stay home, everyone else is free to go about their usual business.

Yes but that's easier said than done because if there is uncontrolled spread between young fit healthy people the risk of an outbreak in the 'protected' groups goes up significantly. The idea is still to control the spread rate, but an outbreak in a rugby team is a totally different thing from an outbreak in a rest home. The rugby team will use virtually no hospital resources by comparison. That doesn't mean you don't have to immediately jump on top of the outbreak. It just means the risk from an outbreak in one context is completely different from the risk in another context so it makes sense the group sizes for different activities will be different.

In any case I am not saying it's as simple as that, my point was that there is enough data now that they can run equations that will allow them to risk-weight different scenarios with a greater level of accuracy than two months ago. They are not just making up numbers.

I don't care if the lockdown is perceived as strict or loose - but either way it needs to have a coherence about it to believe in it. Schools being virtually BAU in level 2 seems to negate the coherence of other more tightly regulated systems at the same level. That is an informed observation and a critique of the announcement made today...why do you think this is moronic?

Yep talk about mixed messages..I heard virus goes away on start whistle then reappears on full-time whistle. It's a clever virus.

Think allowing the re-introduction of contact sport is the most ludicrous and hypocritical edict imaginable. So when we are all out for dinners, us the Joe Public’s let us all put down a scrum for a bit of fun and see how fast the PC Plods arrive, whistles and handcuffs. It is not about the young fit not in danger athletes who won’t die, it is about them being carriers that threaten parents and grandparents for heavens sake.

The wife and I will be eating out for next two weeks starting Thursday. We wont get covid, I know that restaurants have plans in place and covids not spreading that much. We will however be spreading our money... to needy businesses and the multiplier effect will help others too :)

There's no COVID in a Champagne bottle I heard.

I dont know, make mine a corona

That's a bad idea not because the chance of you getting Covid, but a confirmed case could be found there. Then, you will be contacted for self-isolation adding another miserable two weeks.

Whats the risk of that, infintessimal? Happy to chance it because u cant live life in a bubble.

Exactly correct. We live our lives trying not to be a road death, an outdoor adventure death, a marine leisure death, a bad diet death, a bad lifestyle death. Most of us most of the time manage those risks. It's just another one. Statistically, not a big one compared with some of those I mentioned. Let us have a bit of responsibility for ourselves and those around us.

Guessing most large community sports are still off with limit of 10in a group

As an immigrant, I know Rugby is a thing in NZ. But why ban church, funeral and allow Rugby?
I do not see any reasons behind it. Distance between prayers in seats shorter than players sweating?

It's because GR is sport Minister, and nzrfu said no season tickets grant unless....if only the church was as powerful as it once was..lol

FCM...don't jest in here...too many people with no sense of humour in here believe you.

Yea totally agree. Doesn't make sense at all. 30 men can tackle and ruck each other but religious services cant have more than 10. It's quite contradictory and ridiculous imo.

Yep I play rugby with three guys. Can't be within 2 meters or 1 meter once inside the building at work. But came 7pm at training have my head between there thighs trying to push a scrum, mouthguards falling in and out, sweat, spit...etc etc...then next day back to the distancing rule. Came Saturday we will have full contact with opposition who may of traveled up to 60k away..makes no sense at all.

Where is the reference to max 2 hours in a premise?

Another new rule is that people won't be able to gather at business premises (other than their workplaces) for more than two hours.

So the group of nine mentioned above will have to leave the restaurant after two hours. The group will however be able to go to another restaurant or bar for another two hours.

Other social gatherings outside the house, like weddings, funerals and religious gatherings must also be limited to two hours.

Pub crawls are great... sports teams are exempt of this rule also but will participate in a good pub/'restaurant' crawl ...oops more jest sorry..I can't help, there so many loop holes in this we may as well be business as usual.

Sorry, let me be more specific, that's what Jenée's article states but I have not heard this in Ardern's speech and cannot see it in her exerpt above

That was related to in house gatherings but has been removed since the briefing

There was quite a bit of confusion around this. Ardern didn't mention anything about a two-hour limit in the press conference. But when I checked the COVID website at about 5pm, I saw mention of it. I queried the PM's office and it said there is in fact a new two-hour rule, but it doesn't apply to gatherings at home, as the COVID website incorrectly said. The COVID website was then updated. I then checked with the Ministry of Health and it said the "guidance" it was trying to provide was that people should avoid having all-night parties at their houses. 

Many thanks for the clarification Jenée, the time of your reply is not lost on me either

Matt Hooten article was another illuminating piece. Basically moving down was a fait acompli (as I were my observation).
Another great article from Financial Times pointed to history of pandemics and the fact that often they end when society decides to get one with life and live with them. PS did anyone know there was a flu epidemic in 1967 that killed around 1 million worldwide (100k in US alone)!

Hooton is pretty much the only reason I have even minimal interest in the Herald anymore.
The best political commentator in NZ. Comfortably.

Spaced out. Man.....
Phil 'Stoner' Twyford would have enjoyed that.

Kiwis may have misunderstood the situation. I've been concerned to hear that many plan to visit their elderly relatives as soon as Level 2 is applied. If you intend to do so, please at least consider the following.

NZers have been led to believe that this virus carries a high risk of illness and death for everyone...but now with cases declining, they think they can relax, because it has almost been "eliminated" (a misleading epidemiological term) in NZ thanks to the government's lockdown measures.

This view may be wrong. Three critical facts are emerging from international research, and may be equally applicable in NZ:

1. The virus is far more widespread than suggested by the small number of infections that have been detected.
2. Many people infected by the virus don't realise it and show no symptoms, yet are potentially infectious to others.
3. In healthy people under 60 the chances of dying from COVID-19 infection are extremely low - but for those over 70 with obesity or other health issues the risks of dying from infection are very significant.

Government and health representatives have failed to emphasise the risk to certain groups. To prevent a possible resurgence of deaths in the elderly and vulnerable, they should strongly recommend that these groups continue to self-isolate, while younger people should be very cautious about visiting older relatives. If they do visit, masks and social distancing are advisable to protect their loved ones. Rest homes (and possibly retirement villages) should consider remaining closed to visitors.

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