While the alert level across much of the country is set to drop this week – movement between regions is still effectively off the cards with strict rules in place to prevent the spread of the deadly Delta variant to unaffected areas.
At this stage, everywhere south of Auckland will ease into level 3 restrictions from 11.59pm tomorrow.
This afternoon Cabinet will meet to review New Zealand’s alert level settings and changes could be made to the current rules and regulations in a further bid to clamp down on the spread of the virus.
Auckland and Northland will remain at alert level 4.
However, the changes will be confirmed later today depending on the latest numbers and health advice.
The “stay home” rules still apply and people must legally stay within their household bubble whenever they are not at work or school.
And while it is expected bubbles can be expanded to connect with close family and whānau or to bring in caregivers, or support isolated people – travel further than your immediate local area is still a big no unless you are granted an exemption.
The Prime Minister has also indicated level 3 in 2021 may look different to the level 3 New Zealanders experienced last year.
The Government has heavily restricted travel into, out of or through an alert level 3 area.
It has ruled anyone wanting to travel across an alert level boundary needs to check
whether they are eligible to travel and if necessary, obtain an official exemption.
The following travel across a boundary is permitted:
• Accessing health services for an appointment including Covid-19 vaccinations
• Accessing judicial institutions including courts if required
• Caring for pets or other animals
• Collecting someone from MIQ or an airport
• Going home – from level 3 to level 4 only
• Leaving or relocating home on a court order
• Leaving New Zealand
• Personal travel through alert level 4 without stopping
• Providing care or support for a person in a critical or terminal condition
• Shared childcare arrangements or urgent care of a child
If your reason for travelling is not permitted, you need to apply for an exemption through the Ministry of Health.
If that exemption is granted the person will need to be carrying evidence of the purpose of travel and their destination including a travel document issued by the Ministry of
Health or a letter from the appropriate authority.
Photo identification is also a requirement.
“Persons travelling under an exemption should expect that an enforcement officer will refuse them travel – or a transport service will refuse them boarding -if they do not have proof of that exemption,” the official government advice states.
Without the correct paperwork and ID you may be turned around in your car or refused entry to an airport.
Authorities ask that people make sure they have printed copies of their evidence, or electronic copies on their device.
For businesses – there are far fewer reasons to travel across a boundary without an exemption.
You can travel freely if:
• You work for an alert level 4 business or service
• You are working for businesses or services that are exempt from the requirements of the Order
• You are travelling directly through an alert level 4 area
If you are intending on travelling for other reasons, an exemption is needed.
You cannot use Business Travel Documents from previous alert level boundaries.
You must register for new ones.
Anyone crossing the borders is expected to take all the usual health and hygiene precautions – especially those leaving level 4 areas.
“If you travel to an alert level 3 area, you must make sure you ‘take your alert level with you’. This means following all alert level 4 guidance,” the official advice states.
Air New Zealand is yet to make a decision on whether more flights will be added to its national schedule.
When the country went into lockdown all non-essential flights were cancelled and the number of journeys has been severely cut back.
“We’re hoping to provide an update to our schedule and what it’ll look like under the L4/L3 mix this afternoon,” said a spokesperson.
“We’re just waiting for the Government announcement this afternoon to know exactly what the next few weeks will look like.
“It’s likely to stay the same as there are not a lot of changes between L3 and L4.”
The airline will advise later today on any changes.
Christchurch Airport was also waiting until later today to make any decisions.
A Queenstown Airport spokesperson said it was not expecting any scheduled commercial flights under alert level 3.
The Herald has also reached out to Wellington Airport for comment.
Under level 3 public spaces remain closed – libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds and markets.
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