Aucklanders are gearing up once more for wearing masks on public transport in a bid to stamp out the latest Covid outbreak in the community.
From tomorrow, around 250,000 commuters using Auckland buses, trains and ferries every day will be legally required to wear a face covering as they journey to and from work.
Alerts have been sent out by Auckland Transport and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is urging everyone to "do your part" to tighten up the country's defences against Covid-19.
In the latest change to public health rules announced on Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued a mandatory order for all commuters using Auckland public transport to cover up from 11.59pm on Wednesday as the region faces a second outbreak in recent months.
Five people in the community have contracted Covid this month after a Defence worker at the Jet Park quarantine facility become infected.
Health officials are still trying to work out how the cluster spread from the man to a shop assistant working in a High St boutique.
The move comes without needing to change national or regional Covid alert settings. New Zealand is presently at alert level 1. Previously it was compulsory to wear a mask on public transport at the higher alert level 2.
The new travel rules include long-distance bus and train journeys from or through Auckland.
But there are a string of exceptions.
They include taxi and ride-share passengers, school buses, children under the age of 12 and people with certain medical conditions.
Passengers flying on private planes will also be exempt.
With the change in rules comes a fresh focus on home-made masks as people take to their sewing machines. One commuter has gone all out to co-ordinate with his surroundings, getting his mum to fashion masks from the same fabric used on the seats of Auckland's train fleet.
Business consultant and Herald writer Tim McCready turned heads after he struck on the idea of using the identical material during the August covid outbreak. After finding the upholstery material he enlisted his seamstress mum Linda McCready to make a collection.
This week he put two of his five lined masks as a giveaway in an online competition to mark the rule change.
"After I posted the original tweet in August they proved really popular. A lot of people wanted one and asking me where they could get them," he said.
"So this week I thought it would be fun to give them away."
However, they were a strictly limited edition run with his mum refusing to make any more from that particular wool-mix fabric, saying it was too difficult to handle.
McCready praised the Government enforcement saying it would go a long way to ensure New Zealand maintained the present position.
Earlier this week Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said drivers and other public transport workers would not be responsible for enforcing the new regulations. This would be done by police, who would initially take an educative response.
Ardern indicated the mandatory wearing of masks on public transport would be in place for the foreseeable future.
She encouraged, where possible, for all people to wear masks on public transport, even if they were not in Auckland.
Cabinet would be considering if wearing masks on public transport should be rolled out to the rest of New Zealand but at this stage there was no time frame.
She said the new rules were "another line of defence" when it came to the country's Covid-19 response plan.
After weeks of disruption from August's outbreak and a quasi-lockdown of the central business district on Friday, Goff welcomed the move to keep the virus in check.
"This is a sensible precaution to tighten up our defences against Covid-19, so please do your part to keep yourself and others safe," he tweeted.