Auckland to move to Level 2 and the rest of NZ Level 1 at midnight Wednesday; Three new cases linked to South Auckland family that tested positive over the weekend

Auckland to move to Level 2 and the rest of NZ Level 1 at midnight Wednesday; Three new cases linked to South Auckland family that tested positive over the weekend

LAST UPDATED AT 6:45PM

Auckland will move down to COVID-19 Alert Level 2, and the rest of New Zealand Level 1, at midnight Wednesday. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said these restrictions will remain in place until Monday. 

Papatoetoe High School will be closed until Monday. 

Ardern said everyone throughout the country needs to wear masks on public transport for now.

Third new community case on Wednesday 

The update comes as a third new case of COVID-19 was found in the community on Wednesday. 

This person is a household contact of the brother and sister from Papatoetoe High School, confirmed as new cases earlier on Wednesday. 

The newest case was isolating at home, as were the brother and sister. 

The sister is a classmate of an original case, who tested positive over the weekend.

The newest case works at McDonalds. They didn't have symptoms when they tested positive.  

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said it's reassuring the new cases are all linked and were picked up through the testing system. 

There are now six known cases of COVID-19 in the community - the South Auckland mother, father and daughter (who attends Papatoetoe High School), and now the Papatoetoe High School siblings and their household contact.

The South Auckland mother works for LSG Sky Chefs, which provides laundry and catering services to domestic and international airlines. She was therefore exposed to the border. The father is a tradesman. 

The source of the infection remains unknown. 

See an updated list of places of interest, visited by COVID-19 cases, at the Ministry of Health's website

Testing

Bloomfield was reassured that by late Wednesday afternoon, 30 of the original Papatoetoe High School case's 31 close school contacts had returned negative results. The positive case is the one we learned of earlier on Wednesday. 

Of the 1523 "casual plus" contacts identified at the school, 363 were still awaiting test results. 

Earlier on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health reported that only 76 of the original South Auckland family's 128 close contacts had returned negative results. 

Asked by interest.co.nz at around 5pm how many of the 128 remained outstanding, Bloomfield said the results yet to come through were for people who were in the same doctor's waiting room as the South Auckland father. Bloomfield said the risk to these people was low as subsequent tests done on the father came back as negative.

The father is still being treated as a positive case. 

On Tuesday 17,439 tests were processed. 

Results have come back for wastewater tests taken on Monday. ESR (Institute of Environmental Science and Research) has found no evidence of COVID-19 in the wastewater sampled. 

Resurgence Support Payment available

Because Auckland will be at Level 2 or above for seven days or more, businesses all around the country will be able to apply to receive the new Resurgence Support Payment. 

Businesses need to have experienced a 30% drop in revenue over a seven-day period, due to a change in alert levels to be eligible.

Qualifying businesses can get $1500 plus $400 per employee up to a total of 50 fulltime equivalents ($21,500).

The payment is being administered by the Inland Revenue.

The Wage Subsidy isn't available, as no part of the country is at Level 3 or above for seven days or more. 

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

88 Comments

16
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Better get me some more toilet paper

Toilet paper is all gone in Countdown Tauranga, what with the toilet paper thing ? is it everyone's worst nightmare that bog paper will stop being made ????

Extend til Monday.

17
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Cut OCR by a full percentage point to boost that economy...

Never mind the economy, please think of the house prices!

13
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house price soar again after another round of $ printing.

house prices go brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr lol

Maybe daughter did get it first and the source was the high school. No cleaners etc that work at a hotel too?

Quite possible JJ. No doubt being pursued. If that is the case though you'd think there was more widespread occurrences - not to say there aren't of course, as yet undetected

10
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Ring fence Papatoetoe and it's immediate surrounds and let the rest of the country go back to L1

11
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An almost perfect solution, the only tweak it needs is that the ring fence needs to go up about 1-2 weeks ago.

25
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So you're saying a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Hamilton is our best chance?

I think the restrictions need to be a bit more targeted rather than country wide. Admittedly that's pretty hard initially, with information gaps and lags. Locking all of our largest city down is a bit of a blunt tool.

That Bombay Hill checkpoint is in place!

Haha.. should make it a permanent border - freight exemptions only

yeah and then we can listen to all those whinging about the jaffas not coming and throwing their money around in the regions all year round

Do have to wonder why we let family members of professional sportsmen across the border. Hardly essential I would have thought
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/kea-kids-news/300231633/kea-kids-news-p...

You do know what they would be getting up to without their family don't you?

Much the same as with the family I would have thought ?

A minor cost. Also would help our GDP - services industry..Food and Recreation?

By most accounts they do it all anyway regardless of who is around.

29
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This is an emergency. We urgently need to provide cheaper loans to property investors for everyone’s health, safety and prosperity.

Agreed

It's the Kiwi way, what could go wrong.

That'll give me an Orrsome Orrgasm.

Beetroots wife talks covid to get him in the mood

The testing and results of close contacts and casual plus seem to take at least 12h longer than I would expect. I hope I've interpreted this "Because she was considered a "close contact" of the original case, she was isolating at home with her family. Her brother was considered a "casual plus" contact of the original case." This defies me so the defn of a close contact is almost direct contact wheres as a brother of a close contact is a casual plus. No wonder they take so long in getting the results out, casual plus must be lower down the lab analysis order Maybe casual plus should be close contact minus to reflect a closer person to the original.

The classifications seem consistent to me. Something like close contact = in the same class; casual plus = at the same school. Probably the casual plus sibling caught it off the close contact, not the original.

The brother is a casual plus because he is a student at the school. All students at the school were deemed casual plus, which means they are actively encouraged to get a test regardless of having symptoms and required to isolate for 14 days, or until they got a negative test result.

A more nuanced approach would have been to say anyone who was a family member of a close contact was themselves also a close contact, but that's not the definition they used.

Basically the consequences for a designation go like this:
Casual contact: monitor your health but no need for a test unless you get symptoms, then immediately isolate until you get a negative test result. Otherwise no restrictions on you.
Casual plus: you must isolate for 14 days or until you get a negative test result. You are encouraged to get a test.
Close contact: you must isolate for 14 days regardless of your test result. You are encouraged to get a test.

Really 'casual contact' is what everyone in NZ is expected to be doing, just the 'monitor your health' part means that if you start getting a scratchy throat you should immediately isolate and seek a test, as opposed to taking a 'wait and see' approach that people might be more inclined to do.

I know someone who had a family member in a hardware store when the family were in there. They were apparently told they didn’t need a test immediately and to come back on Thursday. That was told to them on Monday

10
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I love how everyone commenting on Covid19 seems to think somehow they would have managed the crisis better.

Meanwhile the rest of the world lags behind little old NZ in their pandemic response and their economies are in a very sorry state. Arguably the only country who managed a better response was Taiwan and for obvious reasons, they got the jump on NZ by rather a few months.

Anyone would think people just like an excuse for a whinge hahah.

10
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And like clockwork, the old "other people did worse so we shouldn't expect the government do what it says it's doing" chestnut pops up. So what is an acceptable amount of disruption, community spread or financial cost until some minute scrutiny is acceptable?

Define winning? If the vaccines fail due to virus mutation & NZ opens up (as we inevitably must), then we will be facing a more virulent strain of the virus. In contrast to the original (slower spreading) strain we would have faced had we never closed up shop in the first place. That sounds like losing to me.
It ain't over till its over & NZ is certainly employing a high risk strategy by going for the elimination till a vaccine approach.

Donny, follow the news buddy, the vaccines have been proven to have reasonable efficacy against the mutations so far. There is accounts of people who beat the original variant subsequently falling ill to the new ones, so infection and recovery with the original doesn't commute to immunity to the new ones. Attempted elimination is the only strategy we should be following. The vaccine we're getting now is a delay tactic, there'll be new vaccines rolled out tweaked to target the new variants. This is an ongoing and probably permanent part of life - this current virus is after all part of and related to the group of viruses that cause the flu

ok so to treat it like the flu " attempted elimination was the only strategy we should of followed".

Common cold, not flu.

The common cold is caused by over 200 different viruses, 4 of which are coronaviruses. Influenza is distinctly different from the common cold.

Agreed Lanthanide.. but most people refer (erroneously) to a common cold as the flu.

Yes, so it's best to be accurate and not repeat that misinformation if you know better.

Sounds like a good little earner

Donny, you seem to be living in a different reality. James Shaw summed it up very simply last year - we could choose to have a recession, or have a recession with people dying from COVID.

We chose the former.

No you are in a different reality. The pfizer vaccine (one of the better vaccines) requires the subject to have a t-cell immune response to be effective against this variant. Elderly people have immune systems which do horribly with this type of response. Elderly people are also the ones that need protection via vaccines as this is where the deaths are.

The South africa varient

Lol, looks like a legit news source...

donny11, i think your bias might be showing?

1. vaccines constantly fail, that's why they are constantly updated and tweaked for each season.
2. the world has managed to produce several vaccines (4-6) in under a year, all with excellent efficacy, this is an incredible testament to modern science and human ingenuity, why would you doubt our ability to tweak any of these vaccines every year, like we do with so many others?
3. we would have faced the more virulent strain regardless, but our healthcare services and staff would have already been a lot more strained by then. We also did not have anywhere near the healthcare capacity needed to deal with the kind of outbreak other countries have had. I can't remember the exact number, but there was something like only 200 ventilators in the entirety of NZ at the beginning of the outbreak. At the time, there was also a global shortage, with every country scrabbling for them at the same time as shipping routes and global supply chains seized up. NZ's healthcare system would have collapsed very, very quickly. No one ever talks about the state of the healthcare system at the start of the pandemic and how ill equipped NZ was. It is better equipped now, but we needed to buy time and we did.

All very relevant points & I respect you're detailed response.
However my point stands. We are yet to see whether so called victory claimed over the virus is absolute or Pyrrhic in nature. I feel it may be the later in the long term.

13
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I think you need to compare apples with apples though. We have unique demographic, geographic and climatic advantages that most (if not all) other nations do not.

We are a sparsely populated island at the very bottom of the world, 3 hours flight from our nearest neighbours. We have vast urban sprawl, pretty hopeless public transport, and were in Summer when everything kicked off, so spread of a Virus will always be harder.

Our relatively small population was also reasonably compliant, and very accepting of giving away certain freedoms for the greater good.

Then you need to factor in the ton of luck that meant most of the mismanagement resulted in no large outbreaks. (No masks, quarantine breaches, lack of adequate contact tracing at the start, etc....)

Yes a lot of luck and that factor is still too much in play. Frontline border workers etc should have been inoculated by now. Progress reports are indicating the vaccines do slow transmission (source BBC) so that would have by now, put a few more fingers in the dyke, daresay.

"Frontline border workers etc should have been inoculated by now" That's right - we could have magicked up the vaccine, or perhaps stolen it...

Yes undoubtedly naive to have believed the government’s assurances some 5 months ago that NZ was at the front of the queue. And then obviously a mistaken deduction from that, with millions of vaccinations going ahead worldwide that the government would be able to source the 40k or so out of that, to at least give the staff at the greatest risk, the protection they deserve.

Foxglove.. really?? Other countries health systems are/were at the brink of collapse.. NZ with it's response was always going to be "first in the queue" - of those that had controlled transmission. The vaccination rollout goes to those who need it most - as it should.

NZ’s health system is always at the brink of collapse. Just refer to the overload White Island caused for one instance. That is why it was so wise and laudable for the government to seal the border, achieve containment, as they said, hard and fast. We both agree the affect otherwise on standard critical care patients would have been devastating. But those circumstances still exist and a breakout could again occur, the whole damn country back in lock down tout de suite. So inoculation of those at high risk the border remains vital. The quantity to service such is small and the need certainly arguable diplomatically at least. Any measure that enhances protection at the border, and reduces the need for luck, should have been pursued relentlessly.

Don't worry, I'm sure there'll be a report released at 5:45pm on the Thursday before Good Friday which will clarify whether we were actually at the front of the queue or not.

The same drug companies making this vaccine are the ones that have to bow and scrape to Pharmac to sell anything of consequence in New Zealand. Maybe a bit of push back from them to make us wait that little bit longer than everyone else in the OECD.

Or perhaps have been ready to administer it as soon as it arrived. We could have almost have done the first 30 000 people by Saturday instead of starting on Saturday. And with all our practise we still cannot open a testing station till 9am and need to close them before 5pm? Please. Plenty of people start work before 7am and work 12 hour days. Also we could have been at the front of the queue, as promised, instead of being almost the last developed country in the world to start vaccinating.

Wider population still three months away. At this rate, there's at least two more border incursions to wear (source/route unknown on recent ones) - will we be so lucky?

Nocents, I think the population are compliant because they trust the government in the management of the pandemic and agree with their policy. The government have used an effective communication strategy, clear, concise and science based. Several people in these comments have a very clear bias in opposition to the current government and can't give them any credit for NZ's success.

You mention "quarantine breaches" when very few countries have even implemented quarantines till recently. Same with adequate contact tracing. Some countries still don't have adequate contact tracing. Very few countries have a more respected pandemic response than NZ, especially not those with a Western culture, whose population are highly committed to individualised rather than community orientated culture. Yes, there are also factors that aided NZ in this pandemic (geographical isolation etc) but there is also some excellent decision making. I don't consider the pandemic to have been mismanaged at all. No one walks into government as an expert in pandemic management. Good leadership is about accepting mistakes (which will always be made) and learning from them. This government has constantly adapted and learned from the inevitable earlier mistakes. I consider that excellent management, unless you live in a fantasy world without human error and perfect insight/wisdom? NZ did not have a CDC or specialist teams as some other countries do and yet here we are. Having a much healthier economy, health care system and population than the rest of the globe.

I stand by my point.

gnj, warranted comment, hard to believe all of what was looming and unknown, twelve months ago to date, and here we are now with the glimmer of possibilities of clusters emerging nationwide in similar circumstances. Like you can only be thankful that we “had a government then, whose first priority was the protection of the people. It is interesting though to note some lessons that are basic now were still initially disregarded. For instance the open ingress allowed into rest homes was shameful. The supply of protective gear of integrity and accompanying training, to frontline medical staff was lacking. But nonetheless the outcome has been brilliantly beneficial to all residents of our good country. What rubs with me though, is the politicking that accompanies these achievements, not only the politicians as to be expected, but the bureaucrats. As a NZr I am of course grateful, absolutely, but at the end of the day that is what identities are elected and paid for. To put it bluntly, from memory, there was much delay, confusion and inefficiency issuing from a lot of shiney arses in the MOH for far too long. Or another way, airline pilots are paid a lot of money but curled up in that is the premise that they will be at the front and fighting winning in an emergency. Don’t think we had many Sullenbergers in Wellington, did we.

I don't mean to imply that you are being naive but are you at all surprised that MoH was inefficient and chaotic at the beginning of a pandemic? I know I always bring history to my comments but even in Ancient Mesopotamia you have evidence of bureaucrats being inefficient and/or corrupt. Has there ever been any large system of bureaucracy that hasn't been? Same is true of politics. It's been part of civilisation from as soon as we started living in large enough groups.

When we lived in smaller tribes 50-150 of whatever, if you didn't pull your weight, or if you cheated someone you were outcast and you died. We created taboos and beliefs around acceptable behaviours in relation to each other and no one was anonymous. As we began to settle in larger communities, religions developed to try and codify and inbed moral behaviour (to limited effect) because we also quickly developed law codes and strong men/monarchies capable of punishing people.

As a species, we are not all hard working and capable. Worse than that, as with most species, many of us are hard wired to try and get the most input for the least output. People cheat, they are lazy and incompetent. Has there ever been a perfect system to contend with this? Nope. and we've tried a lot of systems of community and government, some pretty extreme ones.

I just don't believe a corrupt free world of perfect and efficient politicians and bureaucrats exist or *can* exist. But there are degrees of the problem and on the whole, NZ does pretty well. The system functions fairly well. Whilst of course we need to keep pressure and scrutiny on governments and bureaucracies but come on, credit where credit is due, they did well on the pandemic. They are not doing well on the housing crisis. There are issues we do need to kick up a stink about and where this government are massively failing on election promises.

I give them a little bit of license in having the pandemic to contend with but the housing market has just priced out a whole generation. It's an urgent issue.

I enjoyed that comment as much as I am resigned to the realty of it. On my profile I have posted Kipling as “ It’s Tommy this, and it’s Tommy that, and Tommy how’s your soul, but it’s a thin red line of heroes, when the drums begin to roll.” In more recent times James Jones captioned his novel on Guadacanal as the “Thin Red Line” for those very same reasons. Yes I accept and understand that there are administrative and social failings in all walks of life, in every nation throughout history, but I will never find it less than galling to witness those who are in the front ranks for medals are likely to be those who will be well behind the lines for action. There has been to my mind, far too much political compatibility from public servants, during this pandemic, who are by nature of position, meant to be politically neutral. In other words the politicians and bureaucrats are finding far too much ch comfort in one another’s company.

I agree with Dr Des Gorman's comments on the latest alert level changes.
"I can't see a consistency in our risk appetite, it seems to go up and down depending upon the optics of the situation."

I guess all this ignores the question of whether this virus, unlike the Spanish Flu, is actually at all dangerous to people who don't have co-morbities (sp?) and the very elderly - both of which tend to have low remaining and quality of life expectancy anyway. But if we can still protect these people effectively and let everyone else carry on is that not a better solution? It's all too late now of course as vaccines now become available. Yes, NZ has just done a better job of shutting down everything (easier to do) than the rest of the world but you've got to question whether the response globally was actually appropriate for the threat. Places like India and Sweden will give you an indication of what the counterfactual would be for NZ. And then you've got to compare deaths by age cohort to the historical average and in the years ahead too.

Checking https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ every day for a year - the death rate is a solid 2% for every country with a reasonable volume of data. The real problem may not be that 2% death rate which mainly hits the elderly retirees like myself - it is the unknown percentage of otherwise healthy people who will be seriously impaired. I have only heard of one personally - UK resident in their twenties, healthier than most who nine months after Covid-19 is still suffering with mental and physical tiredness. My wild guess is this would be roughly as common as the 2% who die.

Aye talking to our old neighbours in USA, their grandson fell victim. Fine, fit 18 yr old , good athlete. Quite soon out of danger, but not recovered weight loss, no appetite, lethargic, severe head aches, oxygen levels down, lungs not working that well.

Tragic - and most certainly nothing like the common cold. I can't imagine how young people with long-COVID feel when they hear that type of flippant remark. Seems to be less common these days, so that's good.

Kate I spent my last 18 months in the Police in the control room, I had lots of 1S cases (Sudden Death) come across my desk that were subjects in their 20's and 30's. Medical deaths, you can tell by the job. So long Covid is just scared mongering, there are always a percentage of people that have poor health. I've coined the term Long McDonalds and KFC, peole eating themselves to death and with resultant early health issues and mortality.

I also lost a 20 year old cousin two years ago, a rising football star just moving up in the NRL to first grade, to a mystery virus. Because of his talent they kept him alive by machine for a couple of months, but they eventually had to turn it off. Tragic, but that is life.

Agree with you about Taiwan being the Gold medalist; trailed by NZ a fortunate silver. Not sure what you mean by obvious reasons - the only ones I can think of are politicians with scientific background, an understandable natural distrust of Chinese govt announcements and common use of facemasks. Surely Taiwan had many disadvantages: being nearer the main source, having a dense population, heavy use of public transport, and dealing with infections a few months before NZ when the virus was not understood.
Anyway we agree: Taiwan is the country the rest of the world should be learning from.

Those are the obvious reasons, as well as previous experience with SARS, so they took it far more seriously and acted faster than western countries (including NZ) did.

Taiwan’s history of enmity from mainland China undoubtedly a critical feature, catalyst in fact, to implementation of containment and preventative control. That evokes though, from the aspect of the other side of the hill, the old dictum that in a dictatorship it is very dangerous to be right.

Yeah, all of these things. Which I would have thought were fairly obvious.

meanwhile - we are sliding down vaccine queues, have done nothing to increase the number of intensive care beds, still waiting to think about purchasing 1000 extra ventilators, have not refined our alert levels based on global learning, failed to ringfence our border still adding obvious stuff - test aircrew not allow them to transit from international to domestic airports , no thought of thinking about maybe possibly announcing and inquiry into a steering group to produce a report into how we should investigate how we think about responding ..... It will break into our community 11th scare so far -- or we will have to open our borders -- and when it does - we still will be less capable of responding than America, Italy and the UK were despite 12 months warning and planning time

Agree totally. But what you are overlooking is that our government and bureaucrats do not think any of that matters until, huh, it matters. The grandstanding and self congratulations are becoming tedious. NZ is only a hop, skip and jump away from another outbreak and nationwide lockdown. Yet as you point out, over the last twelve months or so, few of the deficiencies in frontline hospital care facilities and back up, have actually been addressed.

Looking forward to that vaccine rollout so we can stop worrying about Covid-19. It's now the most important metric of progress.

watch that fiasco...

Don't Worry be Happy:

https://youtu.be/d-diB65scQU

Here's a little song I wrote you might want to sing it note for note
Don't worry be happy
In every life we have some trouble but when you worry you make it double
Don't worry be happy
Don't worry be happy now

Cause when you're worried your face will frown and that will bring everybody down
So don't worry be happy
Don't worry be happy now
Ooh-ooh-hoo-ooh-ooh ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh ooh-ooh-ooh...
Don't worry
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh...
Be happy

The landlord say your rent is LATE he may have to LIT-I-GATE
Don't worry
Ha-ha ha-ha ha-ha
Be happy

=) lol

I'm all for playing it safe! So obviously staying at 2 is welcome. But also I think a quick cut to the OCR is needed just to be sure..

Wage subsidy is on! They won't review levels until next week which means it'll be at least 7 days worth of L3 and L2 in Auckland... so free money for Auckland businesses again!

'Free money' if you can show your revenue dropped by 30% compared to the 6 weeks prior to the lockdown. Maximum available cash is something like $20,500. I doubt this 'free money' is going to put (m)any businesses ahead of where they would have otherwise been without the lock down.

You are wrong. It's now just 7 days you need to look back prior to the first day of lockdown.

The qualification threshold for the new subsidy is slightly different to what was used last August. Instead of businesses having to prove they had suffered a 40 per cent decline in revenue compared to the same period a year before, businesses will now have to prove they have suffered a 40 per cent revenue decline relative to the same period six weeks before the alert level change.

The change to 7 days is for the length of lockdown itself. It used to be if lockdown was 14 days, now it is only 7 days, that you become eligible for the payments.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/300231318/covid19-government-l...

I thought they would stay at 3 for the next couple of days.
Good to be back to 2.

Yip, I was expecting level 3 until midnight Friday. First time they've been more aggressive with their moves than my prediction - so far all of my predictions have been wrong.

I think MOH's contact tracing is much better now compared to August last year, it could be one of the reasons why.

I suspect there's also a bit of politics involved. If it had been extended, National would be whinging about how come the government hasn't been able to improve their systems.

They'd have a point too - the whole point of continuous improvement and putting robust systems in place is so that you can actually rely on them and make choices (such as removing lockdown sooner) that you couldn't otherwise make.

So how does the wage subsidy work? If your employment does not relate to gatherings of 100+ people (so therefore is not affected by level 2) eg real estate agent. can you still claim it if your income drops by 30%+?
Surely to God not as the vast majority of agents will not sell a house during the current level 2 restrictions but would not have sold one regardless but can still claim the free money. Can anybody reassure me this is not the case plz? I know I have singled out agents but it is just an example and agents were as good a villain as I could think of. And simply limit auctions to one person per family or group and run them as normal so that auction cancellations cannot be used as a lame excuse to game the system (again). There should only be a tiny number of businesses that lose 30% of their revenue because gatherings of over 100 are banned (for a short time) so the amount paid out (and number of people allowed to claim) should also be tiny. We shall see.

It's your revenue compared to the preceding 6 weeks.

Also not sure why you're focusing on the 100 gathering limit. Auckland's lockdown included time at level 3 where hospitality businesses basically had to be shut. The current lockdown will now be at least 8 days in Auckland comprising level 2 and level 3. Since these businesses will have had 0 revenue over Monday - Wednesday, and likely reduced revenue through to next Monday, they'll likely qualify for the 30% revenue drop.

But surely unless your business is one of those pretty rare cases where their income is affected by gatherings of 100+ nothing has changed for them except for the three day L3 restrictions. I guess you must feel people like real estate agents should be able to claim the free money even though their income (in almost all cases) was completely unaffected?