Northland community leaders say a drop down an alert level for Northland should be inevitable early next week otherwise the impact of a continuous lockdown will start to become more pronounced.
Cabinet yesterday decided New Zealand will stay at level 4 until 11.59pm on Tuesday, and then all of the country - except Auckland and Northland - would drop to level 3 at
A firm decision would be made for Auckland and Northland on Monday, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was likely those regions would see another week at level 4, and even two more for Auckland.
The decision to keep Northland in level 4 has been made, partly due to a positive case in Warkworth, Ardern said.
Yesterday there was a new daily record of 70 cases, bringing the total number of cases in this outbreak to 347. Nineteen people are in hospital in Auckland.
Asked whether Northland would see more resources for testing, Ardern said it was unlikely Northland would be kept in the same alert level as Auckland for a long time. She said testing remained available in the region as it always had.
Kaipara mayor and chairman of Northland Mayoral Forum Jason Smith said it was disappointing the region was being treated differently to the rest of the country, given it did not have any positive Covid cases to date.
"I hope a different perspective emerges after Monday's Cabinet meeting. I am hopeful that Northland will be able to have its own alert level if there are no positive cases up here."
He is calling for changes to police checkpoints once the alert level changes for Northland.
"I am advocating on everyone's behalf for a consistent approach to border checkpoints between Kaipara/Northland and Auckland. Consistency would look like Te Hana checkpoints, near the regional boundary, when we get to differing alert levels."
Fixed checkpoints are at the intersection of State Highway 1 and SH12, south of the Brynderwyn Hills, on Mountain Rd in Kaiwaka and Cove Rd by Bream Tail Rd in Mangawhai.
In September last year, Smith said the Northland Mayoral Forum wrote to the Government requesting attention be given to addressing the various government department regional boundary anomalies in the "borderlands" between Kaipara/Northland and Auckland.
"The response was that this was not a priority for Government. I've continued to take up the matter but it hasn't been progressed by anyone yet as far as I know."
NorthChamber chief executive Stephen Smith said a modified version of level 3 should be applicable for Northland to allow businesses to trade under strict health and safety guidelines.
"At the moment, there's not much difference between level 3 and 4 as far as businesses are concerned. We need to go from level 4 to a level where a majority of businesses can operate, otherwise we may as well stay in level 4.
"It's not profit but cash flow that's the problem for many businesses and if level 4 continues then recurring revenue is lost and it all adds up with the passage of time."
Ngāti Kuri Trust Board chairman Harry Burkhardt said what happened over the next two weeks in terms of alert level changes would be determined by a number of factors this weekend, including Covid numbers.
"We just need a little bit of time to ensure the data supports Government's decision to lock down the country. Once the cluster in Auckland is contained and we haven't had any incident north of Warkworth for a week or so, alert levels may change for Northland," he said.
Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai said although she has received mixed reaction to an extension of the lockdown, calls on alert level changes were tough for Cabinet.
On the possible impact on Northland businesses if the lockdown continued past next week, Mai said every business was different and she felt for those that suffered dramatically.
On Thursday, 3707 vaccinations were given and 319 Covid tests done in Northland.
As of Thursday, 113,663 Covid-19 vaccine doses had been administered in Northland of which 69,964 people have received their first dose and 43,699 people both doses.
Drive-through vaccination clinics are available in Northland for people with a booked-appointment only.
The Northland District Health Board has reminded people not to turn up at a pharmacy, general practice or vaccination clinic without an appointment during the lockdown.
NDHB is aware of a text scam whereby people receive a text telling them that they have had a positive Covid test result.
"Please note - no one will receive a text if they have a positive test result - they will be contacted by public health via a phone call."
A Northland Māori health provider has decided to vaccinate anyone who wants to be protected against Covid even if they don't meet the criteria.
Te Hau Ora Ō Ngāpuhi chief executive Te Ropu Poa told Radio New Zealand it was hard to turn away people who wanted the vaccine, and if people were refused it would be hard to reach herd immunity.
"People are asking more questions: which group they fit in ... when is it going to happen and where. And then there's the frustration that those who do want to be vaccinated, it's not their turn," she told Morning Report.
Northland family doctor Andrew Miller was not surprised the region was lagging behind in terms of its Covid-19 vaccination target.
Miller told Morning Report the size of the region alone made it a massive undertaking with many challenges.
He said those who wanted the vaccine should be able to get it when they wanted it.