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People not wearing masks on public transport could be fined $300 on the spot from Monday for as long as New Zealand is in alert level 2.

The move comes as health officials revealed there are 600 people connected to the Mt Roskill church "mini cluster" which is yet to be clearly epidemiologically linked to the Auckland outbreak.

But officials say it is genomically linked to the resurgence of Covid-19 so the city is still on track to shift out of lockdown at 11.59pm on Sunday.


7.05am: Police commissioner Andrew Coster, 7.35am: Vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris

From Monday, it will be compulsory for everyone aged 12 and over to wear a mask or face covering - like a scarf or bandanna - on public transport and planes under alert level 2.

Bus drivers or train and ferry operators won't be required to refuse entry to anyone not wearing a mask but will be encouraged to, where comfortable, ask passengers to wear one.

But anyone caught by police not wearing one without a reasonable excuse could be instantly fined $300 or fined up to $1000 imposed through the courts.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins said enforcement of the rule would be light touch - starting with engagement, encouragement and education.

There wouldn't be a police officer at every bus stop, he said.

"We do not have a mask-wearing culture here in New Zealand. This is going to take us all some time to get used to, and so we do ask for patience and co-operation as we all get used to taking this additional protective step.

"What we're asking is for people to wear a face covering just as you would buckle up when you get into a car."

Face coverings will not need to be worn by passengers in Ubers and taxis - but drivers must - and people with a disability or physical or mental health condition that makes covering their face unsuitable.


They also do not need to be worn:

• By children under 12

• On school buses

• On charter or group tours

• On interisland ferries

• On private flights


• By private contractors of air services such as top-dressers

These groups were already likely within each other's bubbles as part of a registered group or have space to physically distance, said Hipkins.

From Monday most passengers using public transport will need to wear a mask during Covid-19 alert level 2. Photo / Dean Purcell
From Monday most passengers using public transport will need to wear a mask during Covid-19 alert level 2. Photo / Dean Purcell

"We encourage everyone to get three or four washable masks each and are also investigating the potential distribution of reusable masks to those most in need.

"We know that some people won't be able to wear masks for personal and medical reasons. Please be supportive of people as they get to grips with this new policy."

There were seven new cases of Covid-19 reported yesterday - with one of those being in a managed isolation facility - bringing the number of active cases to 126 across MIQ and the community.

The six new cases in the community have all been connected to the outbreak in Auckland with five being household contacts and one linked through their workplace.


There were 10 people in hospital, including two in intensive care.

And there are now eight people associated with the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship Church "mini cluster" who have tested positive and all have epidemiological links to each other.

Three of these cases have been genomically linked to the Auckland community cluster, but the epidemiological link to the main cluster remains under investigation.

Director of public health Caroline McElnay said anyone who attended services held at the church in Stoddard Rd on August 8, 9 and 11 or a wedding held at the church on Friday August 7 were being followed up.

McElnay said there 400 people at the wedding and 200 people at the services and all were being contacted by public health units.

But Hipkins said they weren't yet requiring masks in churches because they hadn't seen any advice that it would "help hugely".


"As long as people are in spaces where they're coming into contact with known other contacts, then the masks aren't necessarily going to provide an additional layer of protection."

Meanwhile a report on the progress of New Zealand's contact tracing systems says the "foundations are in place" but there remains work to do.

Snjeana Zivanic, on a bus from Onehunga yesterday, says she is getting used to wearing a mask. Photo / Greg Bowker
Snjeana Zivanic, on a bus from Onehunga yesterday, says she is getting used to wearing a mask. Photo / Greg Bowker

Sir Brian Roche led the Contact Tracing Assurance Committee report, which was presented on July 16, and said: "The contact tracing system is core to our level of preparedness.

"Its resourcing, leadership and ability to access high quality, accurate information with respect to the movements and contacts of individual members of the public is an ongoing challenge which must continue to be addressed."

It recommended an "urgent need" for stress-testing and clarity of accountabilities and decision rights.

The Ministry of Health was planning to stress-test the system in August but the outbreak and "real world scenario" derailed plans.


Hipkins said they had also made improvements on accountabilities since the report had been presented.

Other recommended focuses were:

• The role of technology to support contract tracing is a fundamental enabler of a high-quality and responsive system.

• Fit-for-purpose project structure and response is a critical success factor.

• A very active cross-Government approach.

• A whole-of-system view.

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