Northland's tourism, hospitality and civic leaders are urging visitors to the region this long weekend to adhere to Covid protocols such as using Quick Response (QR) code to prevent community transmission.
The message came after cases of community transmission in Auckland this week prompted the Ministry of Health to issue an alert through the NZ Covid Tracer App to people who had been at The Malt pub in Greenhithe on October 16.
Patrons who were at the pub last Friday night were being urged to self-isolate and get tested after a man who was there that evening later tested positive for Covid-19. The case is linked to the marine engineer thought to have contracted the disease on a visiting ship, the Sofrana Surville.
And a student at Rangitoto College in Auckland is in isolation after a family member tested positive, the second case linked to the marine electronics technician.
Northland tourism leader Jeroen Jongejans said although the region was a lot wiser now in terms of adhering to Covid protocols, the community outbreak in Auckland was of concern.
He said the QR code acted as a defensive line which should not be taken for granted.
"Auckland is essential to all Northland tourism operators and it looks like we have reasonably good bookings for this long weekend because Aucklanders want to get out on weekend and holidays.
"They decide two days ahead of travel what places they want to visit and when they are here, depending on the weather and other factors, they do other things. It's going to be a good weekend but Covid could be the spoiler," Jongejans said.
Although Northland businesses including tourism operators have put in place good systems, he said unfortunately Covid was with us and we have to cope with it as best we could.
"Just when we start to relax a bit, Covid comes around. Covid is our new normal and it's the tourism industry that suffers the most."
Jongejans said Northland tourism operators were excited about the upcoming festive season up until around mid February when the crunch would be felt as people went back to work and schools reopened.
Mangawhai Business Association chairman Alan Corkin said there was concern with what was happening in Auckland but local businesses have always followed Covid guidelines.
The town is popular with Auckland holidaymakers, many of whom have bachs.
"There's certainly an awareness [of Covid] here. We haven't been exposed as yet so there's possibly a level of complacency. That is the biggest danger.
"I hope people do make use of contact tracing, it's a hugely powerful weapon in the control on Covid," Corkin said.
John Maurice, owner of Kaikohe's Bank Bar and Northland chairman of Hospitality NZ, said the onus was on visitors and locals to keep themselves safe at all times.
He urged the hospitality sector not to let protocols slip and encourage the use of QR codes.
Northland mayor forum chairman and Kaipara mayor Jason Smith said the timing of the community transmission in Auckland with the long weekend was unfortunate.
"We are seeing community transmission emerging so we're in a different place than we were a week ago. People have started travelling and more will be travelling
from [Friday] so everyone needs to stay alert to announcements from the central government.
"Continue using Covid tracker app, even if you live in Northland because an alert could be issued for any place, any time."
Smith also emphasised the importance of maintaining clean hygiene such as washing hands with soap.
Northland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stephen Smith said the business community welcomed Aucklanders with open arms as the long weekend presented them an opportunity to regain a "little bit of fat", referring to the tourism dollar.
"We respect there's a risk of Covid and we urge people to continue to use QR code, especially those coming from outside Northland just in case they are carrying something."
The Northland District Health Board said those who were unwell should not travel or visit family and friends, and urged out of towners to follow suit this long weekend.
The message from the Health Ministry is the same.
Labour weekend would provide a well-earned break for many people but the Covid virus did not take a break, the ministry said.
"If you see a QR code, scan it. This is particularly important as many people may be moving around the country, and you may not recall later the names and places of everywhere you visit if you are away from home.
"Even if you have fallen out of the habit of using the app, please start again – reset your habits and go from now. And to businesses, make sure your QR code is visible and easily accessible, and please encourage people to scan in."