Aged care facilities throughout the country have locked down once again with the re-emergence of Covid-19 in South Auckland.
Kerikeri Retirement Village began restricting visitor access to its care facility at 6am on Tuesday, more than 24 hours ahead of the government's level 2 alert, in response to guidance from the Director-General of Health. Tuesday's planned opening of the Village's new apartment block was postponed.
Each of the 66 care facility residents was to have been allowed one nominated visitor for the duration of level 2, but that was rescinded yesterday, in light of new guidance. No visitors are permitted in the care facility and village resident has been suspended, as has access for private healthcare and support service staff.
Programmes have been suspended, the social centre has been closed, chapel services and external meetings have been suspended, and there will be no hairdressing service.
"We're aware that these restrictions sound draconian, but they are the conditions we expect to be imposed by the Northland DHB, and they're in place for the protection of the lovely people who call our care facility home," chief executive Hilary Sumpter said.
"We make absolutely no apologies for exercising a very high degree of caution for the safety of our residents. The Prime Minister and Director-General of Health are crystal clear on this point - it's a tricky weasel of a virus, and we now know it's still out there. And rest homes have proven to be particularly vulnerable."
The Village enjoyed support for its access policies from families of those in the care facility and understanding from those living in the Village. She encouraged families to use email, phone calls and video-call services to maintain contact with their loved ones.
Distancing and sanitising procedures were in place for the Village's independent-living residents wishing to speak with staff in the reception and administration area.
Organised events, along with bus- and van-based group shopping trips, were suspended once again, as were services such as podiatry, the day care programme and wellness activities such as Yogalates.
Meanwhile urgent guidance was being sought from the Ministry of Health and the Minister for Seniors on the self-isolation requirements for over-70s. That advice would be communicated to Village residents and their families as soon as it was received.
The Village would allow viewings of cottages, apartments and studio apartments, although strict physical distancing and sanitising protocols would be followed.
What alert level 2 means
Under Covid-19 alert level 2, people are required to practise social distancing (two metres), to wear masks in public places where possible, to stay at home if they are unwell, and not to gather in numbers of more than 100.
The entire country, except Auckland, will be under level 2 at least until midnight tomorrow.