GUIDELINES OUTLINED BY PRIME MINISTER JACINDA ARDERN – 13H00 16 APRIL 2020
A move to Level 3 is coming. The strategy for New Zealand is still to eliminate the virus. We need to keep going. A move from level 4 to level 3 may have lower restrictions but it will require higher levels of vigilance as a result. Keeping the virus at bay now will be more up to personal discipline, not purely isolation
The Level 3 status is designed to be a “waiting room” period to see if Level 4 measures have worked. If they worked, we could then proceed back to level 2, but this will not be immediate. If they didn’t work, and infection rates increase again, we will then be forced to return to level 4. This is something that New Zealand does not want and that our economy can hardly afford. We need to keep going “in a straight line” to quote Ms Ardern, from level 4 back to Level 2 and beyond.
Expanding social bubbles
In general, then, social distancing bubbles must be retained, but can be expanded a small amount. This can open a bubble up to caregivers and enable reunions with children for example in families with shared custody who have been separated for some time. High risk people still need to be protected! (the elderly, and immune-compromised) because expanding both work and home bubbles simultaneously will cause an exponential exposure risk. We need to be cautious, with mitigations in place to protect people within our own – and other people’s – extended bubbles.
Partial reopening of education
It will be voluntary for parents to return their children to schools. ECE and schools can reopen only for pupils up to year 10 (age 14, children by law who cannot be left home alone). It is important to remember to protect high risk people in your bubbles from exposure
This is designed for parents who need to return to work (not just essential workers anymore), and in some cases for individuals like solo parents, who will need to make use of this arrangement.
In schools, children will be kept in their own bubbles even from day to day. They will be in small groups with limited exposure to other children and to opportunities to spread infections such as play equipment. Home and distance learning are still encouraged unless impossible and for Tertiary education, it will still be distance based except for essential educational processes. Face to face situations are not permitted.
Travel restrictions remain
Travel will begin to open up but should be strictly limited to only what is necessary. It is recommended to keep it local first, and then restricted regional travel may begin to happen if we see the situation is stabilised. For non-business travel, keep it non-motorised wherever possible. Sport wise, boating, jet-skis etc can create huge health and safety risks so are still off-limits. People will be able to swim, surf, and fish from shore. But if there is any sign of a congregation of people this will be locked down again.
Community functions and life events
Community functions remain a significantly high risk of onwards transmission. New Zealand has seen multiple huge clusters of infections, and resulting fatalities, created by ONE person attending a life event. Funerals will be able to happen again, but with a maximum of 10 people. Weddings also, a maximum of 10 people, and only the actual service is permitted, not an event with food, such as receptions. Any gathering over 10 people, would still not be permitted.
THE GOLDEN RULE
2 metres apart is the golden rule, but where we can easily remember and contact trace, 1m distancing can apply. This will facilitate the functioning of workplaces, and open small social circles where everyone is known to you. It is in respect of people we know and people we can find if we need to. Notwithstanding this, the more distance the better, especially with strangers
Key factors will be the taking of personal responsibility, regarding hygiene and social distancing. New Zealanders need to continue to act like you and others, already have COVID-19; to make notes about who you were with and where; and this can make the world of difference in limiting a resurgence of the virus.
Businesses must work on a plan to keep their operations safe, and make those plans available at worksites, they will soon be able to self-accredit to show their levels of compliance and create trust. Hygiene, sanitisation and social distancing remain central strategies for safe operations. If it can’t do this, a business should not reopen.
Manufacturing, construction etc will be opening again. It will be about ensuring “safe” operations, not just essential operations. Employees will still be expected to work from home if they can, and even a return to the workplace will depend on social distancing and hygiene. People working in people’s homes need to take significant care (electricians, plumbers furniture delivery etc).
Some business will simply not be able to open normally because of too much contact in too many ways. These would include Bars and Cafes, Malls, and Retail stores
The principle will be zero face to face transactions. Transacting can be done through phones, computers, cars, apps. It places a high responsibility back on individuals, and is not without risk
Level 3 is a progression, not a rush back, to normalcy. Level 2 will be when there is a low risk to public health. We want to get to it sooner, and then to STAY there. Statistical modelling shows that it is better to stay in Levels 3 & 4 longer for now, and eradicate the virus, than to change levels too early, allow it to survive, and then oscillate between levels and take away all predictability from the economy.
Regional lockdowns/opening up
It is possible that certain regions can open while others lock down remains. This can also affect businesses who operate between those areas, and high trust and responsibility will be required. Do the bare minimum and have a wide margin of safety; don’t push the guidelines to the maximum and create unnecessary risks. It is important not to take the risk of disease from a less safe area to a safer area. Only ONE case can be devastating and can spread widely and fast (if our guard is down).
More details are available at https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-system/alert-level-3/