Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Whanganui starting on red under traffic light system

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Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Whanganui starting on red under traffic light system

Whanganui will be in red when the Covid-19 traffic light system comes into place at 11.59pm on Thursday.

The level will remain in place until at least Monday, December 13.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed on Monday the country would move to the new Covid-19 Protection Framework from Thursday.

For Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall, Monday’s announcement wasn’t a surprise.

“It’s disappointing in some ways because it was really clearly signalled that it was about vaccination rates,” McDouall said.

“My clear message again is get vaccinated. If you’re struggling with some of the things you’ve been told, go and see somebody you trust. Go and see a kaumatua or a teacher or a health professional.

McDouall said while he would always support the choice of people who were “standing on the point of principle” and not getting vaccinated, they weren’t protecting the vulnerable as much as they could.

“The projections for when Covid arrives are that we’ll lose people, and that is terribly sad.

“The DHB isn’t that far from being at 90 per cent (vaccination rate), but for the people who aren’t getting vaccinated, please show your responsibility by wearing a mask, washing your hands and keep social distancing.

“And for everybody, if you’re sick, stay home.”

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Whanganui starting on red under traffic light system

Hamish McDouall says projections show Whanganui will lose people when Covid-19 arrives in the region. Photo / Bevan Conley

Whanganui Chamber of Commerce deputy chairwoman Joamari van der Walt said the traffic light system would finally provide some relief to the Auckland businesses that have been under serious economic pressures the past three months.

“However, this system is confusing, time-consuming and costly to our local businesses,” van der Walt said.

“Many of our member businesses have called in asking for clarification, exasperated at the continuous changes government enforces on short notice. The anxiety this system causes outweighs the benefits.

“We are disappointed to be categorised in the red zone given the lack of the virus in our area at present. To get to the orange, we need to be vigilant with regulations and compliance. Our community will need to work together to keep our businesses operating at a level that will ensure their survival.”

Van de Walt said the chamber was happy to assist its members and all businesses of the community in any way it could.

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Whanganui starting on red under traffic light system

Vaccine passes will become mandatory in many places from Thursday night onwards. Photo / Bevan Conley

Te Ranga Tupua spokesman and Ngāti Rangi chairman Whetu Moataane said the recent wastewater results in Stratford and locations of interest in Palmerston North meant he was expecting Whanganui to fall under the red light.

“It’s a reality now, and I’m glad the Prime Minister has given some clarity on where the Whanganui and Ruapehu regions are going to be.

“As the Te Ranga Tupua iwi collective, we’ve been getting our preparedness plan together, trying to set our house up properly so we can get out there and do some work and implement that plan.

“We’ve got a very good team making sure we reach out to our whanau. We’re prepared, we’re planned, and we’re ready to go.”

There was an educational journey to take around the traffic light system as well, Moataane said.

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Whanganui starting on red under traffic light system

Whetu Moataane says educating people about what exactly the traffic light system means is important. Photo / Supplied

“To be honest, it’s actually quite confusing. We’ve got to truly understand what it really means so when we meet and share with our whanau who don’t understand it at all, we can give them clarity.”

“Part of the job is to simplify it, so our people can understand.”

In terms of vaccination, Moataane said the collective knew its communities.

“We know where our whanau live and we know our communities. We know the ones who are sitting on the fence, so it’s about having that ongoing conversation and korero with them.

“We also have a fair idea about our whanau who are not getting vaccinated for their reasons.

“Again, it’s about having that conversation about how we can support each other, and where everyone fits n this new system. At the same time, we are still spreading our love and aroha to our people.

“We have a responsibility to not only represent our people at these levels but to advocate for them.”

Red setting explained

At red, unlike at current alert levels, everything will be allowed to remain open during an outbreak.

Hospitality will be open but patrons must be seated and separated. There will be a 100-person cap. Gyms and hairdressers will be allowed to remain open. These will all require a vaccine certificate.

Gatherings, including weddings, funerals, places of worship and marae, will be limited to 100 people based on 1m spacing if vaccination certificates are used. They will be limited to 10 people if they are not used.

People will still be encouraged to work from home.

For places where vaccination certificates are not used, settings similar to alert level 3 will apply, like contactless retail and hospitality.

Scanning in or record keeping continues to be required and masks are mandatory on flights, public transport, taxis, retail and public venues. It is recommended they are worn whenever leaving the house.

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Whanganui starting on red under traffic light system

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