Mask-wearing to become mandatory on public transport in Auckland and flights around the country from Thursday

Mask-wearing to become mandatory on public transport in Auckland and flights around the country from Thursday

Wearing a mask on public transport in Auckland and flights all around the country will become mandatory from Thursday morning.

Cabinet on Monday agreed the rule will apply to passengers over 12 years of age on buses and trains within Auckland, as well as those travelling in to and out of Auckland.  

The rule will apply to all domestic flights.

Taxi and Uber drivers will need to wear masks, but their passengers will be exempt.

The rule comes into force at 11.59pm on Wednesday. Police, but not bus drivers, will be able to enforce it.

Here’s a press release from the Government:

Masks will need to be worn on all public transport in Auckland and in and out of Auckland and on domestic flights throughout the country from this Thursday, Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins said today.

 “I will be issuing an Order under the COVID-19 Response Act requiring the wearing of face coverings on all public transport into, out of and through the Auckland region, including for taxi and Uber drivers, and on all New Zealand passenger flights. This will come into force at 11.59pm on Wednesday 18 November,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Adding mask wearing to the toolbox of measures against the virus is a sensible precaution and the time is right to make the move.

“As we learn more about the virus and continue to strengthen our test, trace and isolate processes and border measures, modelling is now telling us that we’re at the stage of having the toolset that means we’re better able to respond to community cases with fewer restrictions. 

“That’s not to say that won’t happen. But we’re in a much better position to avoid blunt and costly lockdowns by being able to control the spread of the virus with a flexible mix of measures that best fit the situation.

“In this light, and taking all factors into account, we’ve determined that now is the right time to make mask use mandatory in these situations. It will provide another line of defence, is a low-cost and practical option and presents a minor inconvenience by comparison.

“When we use and dispose of face coverings correctly, they can both reduce the risk of infected people infecting others, and help protect uninfected people from catching the virus.

“It’s also a good visual reminder that while New Zealand remains relatively free of restrictions, we’re not out of the woods yet. We’re at Level 1, not Level zero. 

From 11.59pm on Wednesday 18 November, the use of face coverings will be mandatory for: 

·         people travelling on public transport services in into, out of the Auckland region (except for children – under 12 years of age);

·         the drivers of small passenger service vehicles in Auckland, such as taxis and app-based ride services, but not their passengers; and,

·         people travelling on passenger flights throughout New Zealand.

Children and young people travelling to and from school are exempt from face covering requirements on school buses and other school transport.

A full list of exemptions will be on the COVID-19 Government website.

“We will take an ‘educate and encourage’ approach. Police can enforce the new rules – but this will be a last resort. Bus drivers and other transport workers will not be responsible for enforcing the new requirement.”

The new move is in line with the measures already taken and fits with New Zealand’s overall focus on keeping the virus out and stamping it out when cases appear, Chris Hipkins said. 

“Decisions to introduce mandatory measures are not taken lightly. They are based on expert advice from a range of scientific and public health disciplines and seek to strike the right balance between maximum efficacy and practicality.

“Combatting COVID-19 requires a sustained effort from all New Zealanders and there are simple actions everyone can take to keep us safe.

“It’s important we all still follow good hygiene such as handwashing, cough and sneeze etiquette and staying home when sick. Scanning QR codes continues to be a key tool for contact tracing,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The Government is seeking further advice from officials about extending face covering requirements for other centres and introducing mandatory scanning of QR codes in some high risk situations where contact tracing is challenging.”

“As Covid-19 Response Minister, I am also working with colleagues on a wide range of other significant work streams that will help keep us ahead of the curve and safe, while supporting our economy.

“These include enhanced testing and contact tracing for border workers, MIF booking and allocations, a review of PPE use for MIF workers, airport arrangements, safe travel zones and a greater use of technology,” Chris Hipkins said.

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General public and rules enforcers normally regard a cloth based face covering the same as a proper N95 face mask, which is quite flawed.

I understand some masks can be around 60% effective. Whereas proper PPE, N95 Mask and plastic face shield too, can be almost 99.9% effective.
Crap masks can give some people a false sense of security, which I understand was the MOHs initial reason for not recommending people wear masks earlier this year. Plus people will still touch covid surfaces, and then touch their mask, transferring the virus to their face.
I am surprised top hear the PM say that the government didn't follow the MOHs recommendation to have masks on public transport as a temporary measure earlier.

Also what about scanning . Our contact tracing to remain on level 1 relies on this, but most people are not doing it. Didn't see anyone scanning this weekend.

The mask shouldn’t give you security no matter how good. Its mostly about stopping the person wearing it from spreading to others via sneezing. That’s why in Asian countries they mainly wear it when they are sick, it’s to stop them spreading it.

Initial thoughts.

1. Any empirical evidence?

2. If such an imperative, what consequences to those who rejected this measure earlier?

3. Will airplane cabin pressure/O2 mix be adjusted to compensate. Compensate for the otherwise shallow breathing & shortness of breath experienced upon landing.

" Will airplane cabin pressure/O2 mix be adjusted to compensate." - O2 mix is not adjusted nor is there any reason to - mask wearing has been proven to not result in O2 deprivation.
Imv further tightening of MIFs procedures and practices so NZ doesn't get breaches is more important - including issuing N95 masks to border staff and segregation of "at risk" or high risk factor detainees.

Ever see anyone sneeze and all the snot go everywhere? Gotta be much better if most of that gets trapped in the mask doesn’t it? Even an off cut of someone’s t-shirt is going to stop most of that.

Dr B, going through masking - from 3:40 mark.
Wear them if you know how to wear em.
Masks are for those going out with infection, MoH say if you have infection don't go out.

What new evidence do the cabinent elite & intelligentsia now think they have?

It's very apparent that there is a highly infectious incubation period where an individual may not be aware of infection.

In preparation of a travel bubble? The tsunami continues to grow in size. 1 million cases in a week in the USA.

That is only the cases detected / tested. So likely much higher.

How ridiculous. Because they can’t manage quarantine. Or anything.

Your comment is pretty ridiculous. Complete lack of understanding how this disease and it's prevention works. Complete lack of empathy.

Had a friend in quarantine recently, said it is a very tight ship, very well managed to the extreme. But at the end of the day they are hotels not prisons, only so much they can do. Viruses are very difficult to contain, amazing to have done so for so long (although a bit of luck involved too me thinks).

It amazes me how critical people get when a case gets through the border. It's not like the virus is visible by way of a large brightly coloured floating blob. All it takes is for a false-negative on the last test in managed isolation and boom. A quick google search suggests the tests could be 95% accurate, so potentially 1 in 20 tests are not accurate.

Yup, and the more people you have coming through MIQ then the higher that risk becomes in terms of absolute numbers for a false negative. Quite conceivable someone might be negative at day 3 and false negative at day 12, which I am honestly surprised hasn't started happening more often already. I don't get why people get mad about this happening - if you want to allow people back into the country at all, this is the absolute minimum level of risk you have to accept.

The same people will be complaining about wearing a mask.

I've been using a seat belt ever since I arrived in NZ decades ago. Never needed it but still pleased it is the law. Traveled by bus twice today - I think I was the only passenger wearing a mask although the second driver had one on.