Waikato down to alert level 2; early green light into the traffic system for NZ?

By Te Ao - Māori News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has given the go-ahead to lift the Waikato region to alert level 2 tomorrow at 11:59pm.

"Overall, since the early stages of lockdown for the Waikato, over time we've taken a stepped approach to easing restrictions," she told reporters at today's press conference. "That has not thrown up any unexpected spread. Wastewater testing has shown a low likelihood of wider community transmission.

"In short, the people of the Waikato have contained an outbreak that could have moved much more widely throughout the region. 

"Cabinet agreed on the advice of the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield to move the Waikato to alert level 2 tomorrow."

Bloomfield explained the move to level 2, instead of level 3 step 3, was more "simple and consistent with the rest of the country."

This means the region will be opening up hospitality again, events can go ahead albeit with limits and sports events can also go ahead, with health measures set up.

The region is also just 3,893 doses away from 90% first doses, the prime minister said.

"In making this decision today, Cabinet is very clear that it's a temporary one. In fact that is true for all of New Zealand."

New protection framework soon?

That is because the prime minister says she is keen to move soon into the Covid-19 Protection Framework.

"While we will have decisions on when we'll move till the November 29 check-in, we are seeking public health and expert advice on these decisions in the advantage of the country moving into the Covid-19 Protection Framework early," she says. 

Update on booster shots

"Last week, Medsafe approved the use of our Pfizer Covid vaccine as a booster dose for people aged 18 and over, with a minimum six-month interval between their second dose and the booster dose.

"Today I can announce a booster vaccination program with doses being administered from November 29."

Ardern says the rollout of the boosters will be "simple": anyone who has been fully vaccinated six months or more can get a booster shot.

"Our focus, though, will be encouraging those most at risk of Covid-19 including health workers, border workers, and our Māori and Pacific communities."

Ardern says that almost half a million New Zealanders will be eligible for a booster shot by the end of the year. 

"You don't need to rush to get this done. If you've been vaccinated you're still really well protected from infection and from being seriously ill if you get Covid."