Queues to the Quay St supermarket following the announcement. Credit: Damian W via twitter.

Today, Auckland returns to Covid Alert Level 3 and the rest of Aotearoa returns to Level 2. The official Covid site currently says:

Here are the basics about moving around. Notably, masks are highly recommended (but not required):

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said:

While we have all worked incredibly hard to prevent this scenario, we have also planned and prepared for it. We have a resurgence plan that we are now activating. That plan is based on everything we, as a country, have learned to date about Covid 19. It’s also based on what we’ve seen on resurgence overseas.

We do not know how long the restrictions might remain in place, but one thing research has shown is how effective our first lockdown was:

The team also found no evidence the virus had been circulating before New Zealand’s first case was reported on February 26 – and also that fewer cases were missed later in the country’s epidemic than in early stages.

“It was surprisingly that, despite its remoteness, the viruses imported into New Zealand represented nearly all of the genomic diversity sequenced from the global virus population, and this high degree of genomic diversity was observed throughout the country,” Geoghehan said.

“This highlights the vast number of introductions and how globally connected we are.”

Geoghegan said genomics gave scientists the power to easily quantify the effectiveness of lockdown measures and border closures.

For instance, they found the effective reproductive number of New Zealand’s biggest cluster was squashed from seven to just 0.2 in the first week of lockdown.

This does give hope that we are likely to halt the spread quickly, and are unlikely to be at high alert levels for long, assuming we still behave responsibly. We also know there’s a high likelihood that even if this is for just a brief period, we could enter into an alert level again at any stage.

It will be interesting to see:

  • how well-located the border between Auckland and Northland, and between Auckland and Waikato is for locals needing to stay on one side or the other.
  • how the plan for public transport is developed, now we know how effective wearing masks is, and
  • whether the government will include emergency measures for walking and cycling safety in their public health planning this time.
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  1. Why on earth are people panic-buying at supermarkets? I thought that last time it showed how stupid people were and how totally unnecessary it was, worldwide, and yet here we are in NZ, once again, thronging for a late night visit to Countdown. Sigh…

    Actually, this outbreak is potentially more concerning than before. Ever since those two cases the other week where people flying from NZ were tested at their overseas destination and found to have Covid, I’ve been wondering if NZ had been spreading it quietly with community transmission.

    1. Suddenly the trees are going to stop growing and we’ll run out of toilet paper.

      Too much time spent on Facebook results in this silly behaviour in my opinion.

    2. It’s self fulfilling. There was probably a proportion of the population last night who were running low on toilet paper, nappies, formula etc and were planning on getting some in the next day or two.

      Because of the panic last time they thought better get in now before there’s a run on those things of course causing a run on those things.

    3. There’s also another cause: just plain stupidity. Scenes from Auckland showing thronging shoppers – none wearing masks, passing close by each other in crowded aisles, doing a lot of breathing in the vicinity of others they don’t know – just show how simple-minded a lot of people are. Its all so simple really – stay at home, order your groceries online, wash your hands and wear a mask.

      I’ve been really impressed with Hong Kong over this – they just calmly organised themselves and wore masks from day One and despite their massive population density and closeness to Wuhan province – they have kept their economy going and kept the disease contained. Simple procedures – great results.

      1. Agree. I was one of the people last night as we were nearly at the bottom of the infant formula tin (poor planning really). I put on a mask and literally bought a tin of formula but yes hardly anyone was wearing a mask and distancing.

        The panic from last time is exactly why I went before the queues started and got the formula, if I wasn’t concerned the panic would happen again I would have just left it to today.

      2. Yes – and the important thing to note that it was the people of Hong Kong and not the government that forced the move to wearing masks ubiquitously. (in the early days the government even recommended against masks – but then we all know about the impressive competence of HK’s leaders.)

        So even if masks are not mandated they should be worn when going out. If Hong Kong people can wear masks in 34 degree heat when tramping up the local peaks (as I saw over the weekend) – NZers can when going to the supermarket in winter.

        1. True but don’t forget HK had had a lot of airborne diseases pass through from China over the last 20+ years so it is normal behaviour for them just as it is becoming normal behaviour in Europe.

          Its very embarrassing seeing kiwis panic buying bog roll on BBC here in the UK. NZ is seen as a bit of a joke right now.

        2. I think the reason why they buy so much is that all the takeways and junk food they eat is after a bit of home cooking with real food their guts can’t handle it ? .

    4. If you rush to the supermarket you maybe still get something. If you don’t you definitely get nothing. Too bad if you’re kind of out and you were planning to go in the next few days. It is one for game theory to figure out.

      The way to avoid it is to always have a deep enough pantry (assuming you can afford it) so you can sit out the panic for a few weeks.

      It is not only the supermarkets. Our local computer hardware shop also got swamped. I wonder what people are buying over there that they didn’t need yet back in April.

    5. The PM should have contacted the 2 Supermarket Chains and told them what was going to happen and asked them to close early before the anoucement was made so that there wasn’t this madness at the stores .

  2. Will this mean that Jacinda will ‘say yes to the test’ now after telling people they should do so but not doing it herself?

    1. Given the messaging was pretty clear last night to only get a test if you have symptoms or are specifically asked then it would be foolish for her to tie up valuable testing resources if she doesn’t have symptoms.

      1. He is arguing for both. If she doesn’t have a test he will complain, if she does have a test he will complain. My message is simple- if you vote National then people will think you are like Vance.

        1. Best take I’ve seen from you in a long time, miffy.

          I will also point out that certain Nat-leaning TV/radio hosts have been telling people not to take the test. Praise be to Allah that that family in South Auckland didn’t listen to the Hosk.

  3. What is concerning is the amount of idiots out there that are saying they are going to ignore restrictions etc. The government needs to get ahead of this now and make it very clear that this is unacceptable and will be enforced and punished.

    1. On one hand, conspiracy theorists like the Public Party are very dangerous and need to be fought.

      On the other hand, we need to be sensible about how to do that. Some people are talking about sending in cops to bust up anti-lockdown demonstrations. Considering that the cops didn’t bust up the Black Lives Matter demos when we were at level 3 last time, that would be counterproductive in so many ways.

      1. Cases connected to BLM protests? That is just plain untrue Vance and you must know it.
        Scomo and his gang tried desperately to make the link and couldn’t, because there was none.
        Road blocks by gang members? You are really are scraping the muck from the bottom now.
        Your evidence? I won’t hold my breath.

      2. Those roadblocks will almost certainly return and as with the previous lockdown they will all have a police officer present to ensure they are legal.

      3. Shoulda just put a couple of white people on the checkpoints as well.
        That would have legitimised them for you right Vance?

      4. Vance – evidence please. Yes, I agree some didn’t have police present early in lockdown, which was illegal but I’d be surprised if you find any evidence of Police not being present in the middle or later parts of lockdown.

      5. Daphne, the Public Party are not conspiracy theorists. You could argue they may be misguided, but they have kept to the facts about the issues they are campaigning on.

        They are correct that New Zealand has policies based on UN Agenda 2030 that include erosion of property rights, and they are correct in their assessment that New Zealand does not have a true bill of rights – i.e., our bill of rights is written to fit within the law, rather than the law written to fit the bill of rights. In the US, laws must serve and fit within the constitution, but in NZ we have no framework to contain laws and prevent law overreach they like they do in the US.

        The real danger is having a populace that doesn’t question the lack of guaranteed freedoms.

        If you want an example of a nutty party, look to Sustainable NZ and their plan to have roving patrols searching for cats out after curfew.

        1. ‘The Territorial Boundary of New Zealand will be changed to include 200 nautical miles above and below the country, ensuring our right to security from satellites/space vehicles and subterranean devices.’

          Nah, course they aren’t.

          Half of this comments section reads like KiwiBlog! Give it up guys, its a blog about Transport, change the record.

    1. I’ve been for a walk up to our local NW to see how many people were queuing up to do a bit of panic buying and sure enough there was a long queue.

      1. I’ve just had a lovely long walk and while there are clearly people still driving to get supplies before they settle down to a quiet spell, there are also lots of people out walking. Looking pretty relaxed and very smiley.

        I hope the ones in their vehicles soon remember how good clean air smells, and stop sitting outside dairies with their engines idling.

        Given the data from this year confirming, again, how massive a toll on public health air pollution has, and its contribution to Covid severity, I hope our public health officials will bring this into their messaging.

        1. Research shows the vast majority of people have good values around caring for others, so a little messaging to get people thinking would go a long way.

          And even those who aren’t so concerned about society in general do tend to think people should take personal responsibility. For these people, making anyone else breathe the fumes in must seem irresponsible. Whether dope fumes or vehicle exhaust. 🙂

        2. Vance, you’re being particularly unpleasantly rabid today – do you think you could dial it back or take it somewhere else? Its really not welcome here. Thank you.

    1. This is a very important issue that usually flies under the radar. Senior council managers have huge influence over both the direction and effectiveness of the council. Same goes for senior managers in CCOs, government ministries, departments and agencies.

      I think the main problem is the system that we currently operate in.
      – Anything from fantastic down to mediocre performance attracts no public interest.
      – People only care when something goes wrong.
      – Politicians are blamed whether they were at fault or not because they’re the publicly accountable figureheads.
      – This incentivises significant risk aversion in politicians and those immediately under them.
      – This risk aversion manifests as extremely slow and conservative decision making.
      – There becomes a strong preference for the status quo, even if the status quo is shit.

      Of course there are a bunch of other issues too but none of them will get fixed so long as very few people care and the media ignores them.

  4. InterCity has suspended all coach services originating from Auckland for the next 72 hours. All coach services in the rest of NZ are currently operating at this stage with social distance.

    Busit Hamilton urban and regional services except for 21 Northern Connector Hamilton to Pukekohe will be terminating at Te Kauwhata, are currently operating to normal timetables but social distancing will apply.

  5. Very useful information and interesting is that genomic diversity sequence study and the ability to trace where the different strains/cases have come from at least somewhat, was mentioned on the TV3 Newshub news last night too. Could be fortunate timing too.

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