New Zealand’s Largest City Goes Into Three-Day Lockdown

New Zealand put largest city Auckland into a snap lockdown while authorities investigate three new community cases of Covid-19.

Auckland will enter a three-day lockdown at midnight, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced after an emergency Cabinet meeting on Sunday. The alert level for the remainder of New Zealand will rise to 2, which requires social distancing and signals the risk of community transmission. Cabinet will meet again on Monday.

“These new cases pose questions,” Ardern told a news conference. “We need to act with a high degree of caution” because they could be one of the more virulent strains, she said.

It is the second regional lockdown in New Zealand after Aucklanders were asked to isolate at home for about three weeks in August. That outbreak was successfully contained and eliminated, and New Zealanders have enjoyed a summer free of any restrictions until now.

Earlier Sunday, the Ministry of Health reported three new cases of Covid-19 in a family from South Auckland — a mother, father and daughter. It is not yet clear how they contracted the virus. In addition to visiting local shops, two of the people traveled to the city of New Plymouth last weekend, where they visited a number of tourist attractions.

The woman works for LSG Sky Chefs, an airline catering company, which is an “obvious connection to the border,” Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told the news conference. She is not involved in handling food for the company, he said.

Auckland’s move to Alert Level 3 means people are asked to stay at home and work remotely if possible. Schools, daycare centers, shops and public venues are largely closed, and gatherings are restricted to 10 people.

For the rest of New Zealand, Alert Level 2 requires social distancing and mask wearing, but schools and businesses remain open. Gatherings are restricted to 100 people.

“Three days will give us time to gather further information, undertake large-scale testing, and establish if there has been wider community transmission,” Ardern said. “We have been here before, that means we know how to get out of this.”

– Bloomberg

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