Level 2, not quite as we know it

    Plenty of fun was to be had during lockdown recently for Invercargill 3-year-old Arthur Sheat as it meant playtime with Adrian and Megan and new baby sister Greta, who was born on the first day of lockdown.The family made the most of lockdown with almost daily trips to Queens Park, close to where they lived.

    WITH the introduction of the Delta variant of Covid-19 into New Zealand, Alert Level 2 looks a little different from last year.

    While all the information you might need can be found on the Unite Against Covid-19 website, here are some of the details you might be looking for.

    A big change from last time, face coverings will be a legal requirement if you are aged 12 or over, in a variety of situations.

    You must wear a face covering if you work: as a driver of a taxi or ride-share vehicle; at a close contact business – for example, a barbers, beauticians, or hairdressers; in a public facing role at a hospitality venue – for example a cafe, restaurant, bar or nightclub; at retail businesses, such as supermarkets, shopping malls, indoor marketplaces, takeaway food stores; in the public areas of courts and tribunals, local and central Government agencies, and social service providers with customer service counters; at indoor public facilities – for example, libraries and museums (but not swimming pools).

    At Alert Level 2, cafes, restaurants, bars, night clubs and takeaway services can open, but with extra safety measures.

    People who work in customer-facing roles in hospitality venues legally must wear a face covering. Customers can take off their masks so they can eat or drink.

    Because there is a cap on the number of people who can be present, customers and workers only need to keep one metre apart.

    Bars and nightclubs can open with seated service only. Dance floors are closed.

    These places and businesses will also need to make it easy for people to make a record of their visit, and the use of the NZ Covid Tracer app is encouraged.

    All early learning services, schools, kura and tertiary education facilities can open, but schools should put extra public health control measures in place.

    At Alert Level 2, social gatherings can be held, such as weddings, funerals and tangihanga, but are limited to 50 people in an indoor space, and 100 people in an outdoor space.

    This is the same for places of worship and events and entertainment facilities such as cinemas.

    Government advice is to keep two metres apart from people you do not know in public and places like retail stores, libraries, gyms, and museums, as the Delta variant can spread easily.

    However, there are no restrictions on who can be included in your household bubble; you can go to work, and all businesses and services can open but legally must follow public health rules.

    If you have cold, flu or Covid-19 symptoms, call:

    • Healthline for free on 800 358 5453
    • Your doctor or nurse, or your iwi health provider.

    All information has been taken from the Unite Against Covid-19 website.

    Adapting to change
    In what could be a challenging time for Southland youth, Aparima College principal Cameron Davis said a positive approach was needed.

    While it was a process adapting to the changes around alert levels for everyone, he felt the Ministry of Education (MoE) had provided good advice.

    The school was following Ministry of Health guidelines, and the biggest change was the wearing of face coverings for people aged 12 and up.

    “We are currently still waiting for final advice from MoE on that but it looks to be a scenario where people can choose to wear one or not and we will manage that accordingly.”

    It had been easy understanding what the school needed to do as the process was largely the same as for 2020, and therefore relatively simple to put into place.

    “We have an level plan at level 3 and level 2, which we have communicated to our staff and community.”

    The school educated 199 pupils and their principal looked forward to having them back on-site.

    “There is obviously a level of anxiety across the country about the Delta variant but we are confident in the advice we are receiving and following.”

    Having a regular routine back again would be a healthy thing for lots of people, staff and pupils alike, he said.

    Learning, however, had not been put on hold.

    As happened last year, pupils were learning online, and most had been engaging with their teachers.

    Mr Davis said they needed to try their best to be positive.

    “It is a time of massive upheaval for so many people and getting a bit of normality back into people’s lives is a wonderful thing, but we also need to be mindful that the transition back into those routines isn’t a return to and that we will need to support people who react differently as we go through that.”

    The Batch Cafe co-owner Kate French said while operating under Alert Level 3, everyone had been amazing.

    “Wev’e got to get on with it, no point pushing back too much. You’ve got to roll with what it is, and the customers have been fabulous.”

    She spent Tuesday organising the cafe and staff to be able to operate under Alert Level 2 conditions, and said the mask wearing component was a minor modification compared to the service change.

    The physical layout of the cafe needed to be adapted for service flow as well as social distancing between tables.

    ILT chief executive Chris Ramsay was not so upbeat.

    The ILT operates 10 restaurants and 14 taverns and bars across the city, which were open during Alert Level 2.

    However, Mr Ramsay said the new restrictions meant it would be almost impossible to generate a profit.

    “We will be opening all of our businesses in spite of this, to ensure the community can get out and celebrate the move down alert levels.”