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By Stephen Heard
February 17, 2020
By Stephen Heard
February 17, 2020

At 12pm on Wednesday, 17 February, 2021, Auckland will move to Alert Level 2 and rest of New Zealand will move to Alert Level 1. While the level drop means that the disease is contained, the risk of community transmission still remains. Ardern has previously said the core principal behind Level 2 is to "play it safe," in an effort to make life feel more normal and stay on our path of elimination. That means physical distancing between strangers will remain at two metres, but some rules outside of your bubble will be relaxed.


Can I visit friends and family outside my bubble?

Social video services like Houseparty and Zoom have been wonderful for connecting with friends and family during lockdown — but you'll soon be able to embrace loved ones (safely). Under Level 2, Ardern said that Kiwis no longer need to stick to their bubble and can begin to see family and friends again. She urged Kiwis to keep the numbers small, and it is "not the time for a large party at your home." It is also advised to play it safe by keeping surfaces clean, washing your hands, and adhering to safe distancing.

What about mass gatherings?

Mass gatherings like weddings, funerals, family events, concerts, religious services and public meetings are allowed with a maximum of 100 people. Both indoor and outdoor gatherings fall under this banner as long as public health measures can be maintained, including physical distancing and contact tracing. Indoor gatherings should be seated if possible, and should be approximately two hours long.

Will restaurants and cafes be open for dine-in?

In short, yes. Under Alert Level 3, businesses like restaurants, bars and cafes were open to look at alternative ways of working, meaning takeaway, contactless delivery and drive-thru services were open for business. In Level 2 only businesses that can follow the three S's can operate. That means people must be 'seated', people must be 'separated', and each table must have its own 'single server'. Public venues must also comply with conditions on gatherings, and undertake public health measures.

Can I head to the pub for a drink?

Yes, but like restaurants, each watering hole will need to stick to gathering and safety restrictions. You can have a wine, beer or low-calorie RTD, but you'll need to be seated, separated and served by one dedicated staff member.

Can I go shopping?

Shopping malls and retail stores will also be open as long as they adhere to gathering and safety restrictions. Businesses will be asked to have a contact tracing system in place to keep records of customers to trace any outbreaks of the virus. There will also be physical distancing restrictions of one-metre between groups of customers. Local online shopping will also continue to be allowed through pre-order 'click and collect' arrangements and delivery.

Can I get a haircut?

It's highly likely that your quarantine cut is becoming unruly. The good news is that hairdressers and barbers will be allowed to open for business under Level 2. All operators must have a robust contact tracing system and good hygiene practices in place, and they must play it safe by wearing appropriate PPE equipment to mitigate the risk.

What about a massage?

It's the same as above for masseuses and beauticians that work in close proximity to other people — contact tracing, good hygiene and PPE.

Can I road trip to an out-of-town beach or holiday house?

Travel restrictions will also be lifted under Level 2. Where under Level 3 it was advised to 'keep it regional', the new alert allows domestic travel as long as you follow personal health measures. You will need to keep records of what travel services you use and keep track of who you have been in contact with. You should keep your distance from groups of people you don't know. You should minimise the number of places you stop on the way to your destination.

How about visiting the local community pool or gym?

Public venues including swimming pools and gyms will be open under the Alert Level 2, but there will be restrictions. You can do your usual exercise, sport and recreation activities, provided you can do them safely.

What about public sports?

You can play sports that involve close contact, but only if good contact tracing is maintained for training and games. For sports where it is possible to maintain physical distancing, such as tennis, you should try your best to keep two metres from other people. Professional leagues like Super Rugby and Premiership Netball can also go ahead at Alert Level 2 because they take place in controlled workplaces. Initially, they will happen without crowds but they can be broadcast.

And other public venues like museums and libraries?

Many public venues, such as museums, food courts and markets, will be open again at Alert Level 2. There will be restrictions in place including the requirement to keep groups of attendees one-metre apart. This might require limiting the number of people inside at once.


Read more about COVID-19 Alert Level 2 here and head to the New Zealand Government's Ministry of Health website for the latest COVID-19 advice.

Published on February 17, 2020 by Stephen Heard


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