Aucklanders are ready with suitcases to leave the city today after being locked in for four months. You may recognise them by their lengthy and unkempt hair, cabin-fever slouch, or a glint of pride in their eye.
The much-anticipated border removal at 11.59pm last night was expected to send residents out of the city in an exodus of the alleviated, desperate to reconnect with family, friends and summer getaways.
More than 12,000 people are booked to wing out of Auckland on Air New Zealand flights today. Seventeen hundred are bound for Christchurch while 1200 are headed to Queenstown.
One-hundred-and-twenty days after being plunged into lockdown when the Delta variant breached our defences, Auckland can at last breathe in and out with near-normal people movement.
As we know, this discharge is conditional. Travellers need to carry evidence of vaccination or recent negative Covid-19 test. These are additional to the need to scan available QR codes, wash hands frequently, and come ready with a mask to wear when required.
Aucklanders can be justified in holding their chins a little bit higher. New Zealand's largest city carried the ball, doing the hard winter yards while the rest of the country stood in the relative safety and relaxation of the wings.
All the region's district health boards have now reached the 90 per cent double-vaccinated rate, Auckland DHB is at 95 per cent double-dosed. In the next day or two, the magic milestone of 90 per cent is expected to be struck for the entire country.
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That is a huge credit to the health agencies who have climbed aboard the effort, as well as every person who rolled up their sleeve to be "dotted".
The virus will continue to seek out the unvaccinated and vigilance is still needed, lest a community becomes ravaged as we know it has the capacity to rally, mutate and thrive again.
Sure, there have been protests and divisions. Some have worked to garner attention to air their dissent. But the vast majority went quietly to a local clinic, accepted the antidote to safeguard themselves and others, then returned home to wait for enough to do likewise to ensure widespread immunity. We noticed you, thank you.
Omicron has cast a cloud over our success in recent days. Variants are likely to continue raising their unwelcome heads from time to time but there is increasing evidence that the serum antibodies induced by booster shots will see the latest one off.
Today, after all Aucklanders have endured, is a day to savour. Those who followed the precautions and stifled the Delta outbreak, should take a moment to congratulate themselves.
Numbers of cases and hospital admissions are tracking down. Infections dipped again yesterday with 80 new community cases, 62 people in hospital and four patients in ICU. This situation seemed unlikely only last month when we were being told of more than 200 fresh cases each day.
When the region's eight former councils were amalgamated 11 years ago, the new entity was called a Super City. Residents have now earned that sobriquet.