As the Far North prepares to drop down to alert level 2 tonight, the owner of the hotel at the centre of the outbreak has been praised for his quick thinking to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Awanui Hotel publican Eddie Bellas received the call last week no business owner wants to receive - that his business had been declared a Covid-19 location of interest.
As a result, the government announced a snap lockdown last Tuesday (November 2) until midnight tonight, cutting the top of the Far North off from Kaeo north across to the northern side of Mangamuka.
Twenty-four hours prior to the announcement, however, Bellas was already busy contacting patrons and conducted a deep clean of the hotel following a tip-off from one of Sunday night's guests.
He said the partner of one of the 10 people who had dined at the hotel on October 31 had messaged the next day to confirm the positive Covid-19 result.
"On Monday morning I started receiving messages and phone calls there was potentially a positive case in the pub for dinner, which was later confirmed by the partner of the confirmed case," Bellas said.
"My initial reaction was holy sh**, this is too close to home and straight away I rang my manager to let her know we needed to close the pub.
"We then conducted a deep clean as a precautionary measure and put a post on Facebook to let the community know what was going on."
Bellas said in addition to the clean, he also went through video footage of who was in the pub that night and starting calling those who had been in attendance.
"I wanted to do that because these are loyal customers of mine, they're like friends and I care about people, so wanted to let them know they should get tested."
Bellas said it was frustrating not hearing from the MoH until a full day after finding out about the confirmed case, particularly given the contagious nature of Delta.
"The Ministry of Health did not contact me until midday on Tuesday which was hard because I knew it would be a place of interest, yet nothing was on the website to let the community know.
"Twenty-four hours is a long time for the virus to be out in the community, especially since it can spread like wildfire.
"I therefore felt it was a good move to close the pub straight away and hopefully stop any further spread of the virus."
Due to Bellas' proactive approach, the Ministry of Health confirmed Awanui Hotel could reopen once the region dropped back down to level 2.
Both staff who were working on the night have returned negative Covid-19 results, with one staff member still finishing their 14 days of isolation.
The Awanui Hotel will reopen tomorrow from 11am to midnight with the usual alert level 2 restrictions in place.
Bellas said it was a relief to open again and despite the large loss to the business, he understood why the lockdown needed to happen.
"We've lost a considerable amount of revenue as it was during the Melbourne Cup celebrations which would usually be a busy time for us," Bellas said.
"We were also supposed to celebrate our one year anniversary since opening, but that too has been postponed to a later date.
"This year has been really tough and my staff have been really anxious, so I've just been doing my best to support them and remind them to stay positive.
"I want to thank my staff for all their hard work and also the community for the great feedback regarding our actions and we're looking forward to serving them again tomorrow."
Far North Mayor John Carter said he was really pleased with how Bellas and the Awanui Hotel staff had responded to the outbreak and wanted to thank him for his leadership.
"Eddie and his team did a great job and deserve all the praise they can get for helping to protect the community from Covid-19," Carter said.
The Northland Age contacted the Minister of Health to ask why it took so long for Bellas and the community to be notified about Awanui Hotel being a location of interest.
An MoH spokesperson said locations of interest were only published when they could not identify contacts.
"The public health priority is to ensure potential contacts are notified of exposure so they can isolate," the spokesperson said.
"On many occasions, public health staff identify exposure sites rather than locations of interest.
"Exposure sites are locations where attendees are well known or have registered their attendance such as a general practice or other locations that require check-ins."
The MoH spokesperson went on to say that the interview process could take several days for a range of reasons.
"Once an exposure event was identified, however (and where the close contacts could not be identified), the location of interest process was then commenced and this final stage was typically completed within hours."
Despite a rise in case numbers linked to the Awanui Hotel cluster, the Government announced on Monday the region would drop back to level 2 from midnight tonight.
The Northland Age also contacted the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to ask if it was likely people from outside Northland would be able to travel here for Christmas.
A DPMC Covid-19 spokesperson said further information would be available in the coming weeks.
"Changes to Auckland's regional boundary restrictions and the public health measures put in place to support the change will be a future decision for Cabinet
At the time of writing, there were 24 active cases of Covid-19, with 12 cases being supported to isolate at home in Northland.