Northland leaders say the Government's decision to extend level 4 lockdown is the right call and are urging those affected to seek help, including tapping into the wage subsidy if they are eligible.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday
announced an extension of the lockdown nationwide until 11.59pm on Tuesday next week after confirmation the Delta variant has spread to Wellington with three confirmed cases.
The latest 11 new cases brought the number of confirmed cases in New Zealand to 31 from more than 140 locations of interest.
Nineteen cases are now confirmed as part of the Auckland outbreak, with the remaining 12 under investigation to confirm the linkage to the outbreak.
John Maurice, owner of Kaikohe's Bank Bar and Northland chairman of Hospitality NZ, felt sorry for businesses most affected but said everyone needed to obey the rules if the virus
was to be stamped out sooner rather than later.
"All businesses are struggling and now most of them can't operate but at least there's provision like the wage subsidy which they can tap into. At the moment, we need all the business we can get but unfortunately, we can't this weekend which is the busiest time for the hospitality sector," he said.
With the Delta variant spreading to Wellington, Maurice said an extension of the lockdown was inevitable.
Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai said by extending the lockdown for the whole country to be on a par with Auckland, the Government has shown consistency in tackling the pandemic.
"I am just relieved there are no cases in Northland and long may that continue. The reports are that by far, the majority of people are complying with the rules but there are still some who don't wear a mask or scan the QR code but the tolerance is getting thin," she said.
An extension of the lockdown for a few more days, she said, would enable the authorities to get a better gauge on how Covid was tracking up and down the country.
NorthChamber chief executive Stephen Smith said affected businesses that qualified for the wage subsidy should apply for it.
The chamber, together with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), and Northland Inc have stepped up support for affected businesses through advice on how best to get help.
"It's now a case of watching, listening, and learning and we hope the lockdown isn't extended beyond Tuesday but with the Delta variant, you can't take risks. Businesses that are really hurt are those reliant on recurring income like coffee places.
"They can survive a few days but they are all cumulative and are in people's minds. The unknown with Covid presents its own form of stress in different people," he said.
Kaipara's deputy mayor, Anna Curnow, said a lot would depend on what happened over the next few days in terms of a shift in alert level 4.
Her council is working with other agencies such as police to work out the Kaipara/Auckland boundary which would come into play if the lockdown in Northland was lifted but not in the Super City.
The Wage Subsidy August 2021 scheme is now open for online applications through MSD for any business that meets the criteria.
The subsidy can be used to contribute to the wages of employees, or yourself, if you are self-employed, over the next two-week period.
Eligible businesses must experience, or expect to experience, at least a 40 per cent decline in revenue as a result of the move to alert level 4, as well as other eligibility criteria that businesses will be familiar with from last year.
The Government has increased the wage subsidy rates to reflect wage cost increases – $600 a week for each full-time worker (20 hours a week or more) and $359 a week for part-time workers retained.
On Thursday, the Northland District Health Board testing centres recorded 867 Covid tests and administered 730 vaccines.
As at 6.30am yesterday,
96,934 vaccine doses had been given in the region.
Covid-19 testing is available today
on Pohe Island, Dargaville, Kerikeri and Kaitāia from 9am to 2pm.
More information on testing centres can be found at:
NDHB is advising Northlanders who have been at a location of interest listed by the Ministry of Health and have not been contacted and given advice to call Healthline any time on 0800 358 5453.
"We understand that people in the community have been concerned that someone who may have been a close contact to someone with Covid-19 has presented to hospital in Northland. Anyone who presents to our hospitals, a testing centre or their doctor with
Covid-19 like symptoms will be cared for safely and tested for Covid-19," NDHB said.
eligible parents or guardians over 40 who are booking their vaccination, can also book one for any 12- to 15-year olds in their whānau.
However, people are advised to not turn up at a pharmacy, general practice or vaccination clinic without an appointment.
Appointments can be made by visiting BookMyVaccine.nz.
NDHB has increased Covid-19 testing availability across the region with centres in Kaitāia, Kerikeri, Kawakawa, Whangārei and Dargaville.
In Whangārei, three GP practices have combined to administer Covid vaccination through a driveby clinic that vaccinated 147 people yesterday.
Kensington Health Hub, Central Family Health Care, and Three Mile Bush Rd Medical Centre will be open again today
behind the Kensington Pharmacy from 9am to 4.30 and on Tuesday next week.
The practice manager at Central Family Health, Ruth Redfern, said vaccinators were seeing three people every 10 minutes because it was quite a logistical challenge under level 4 lockdown.