South welcomes Alert Level 3

    Mother and daughter Carmen and Sarah Bungard woke up early yesterday to get their first coffee fix in Alert Level 3. They are pictured with Black Shag owner Sylvie Boutelje-Chasteau.
    Southern Seafood Products owner Peter van Duivenvoorde was able to open for retail customers in Invercargill yesterday.

    AN Invercargill resident believes Southland is doing its part in the national battle against the new Covid-19 outbreak.

    Southlanders started to queue up early yesterday to have their long-awaited takeaway fix after the region moved to Alert Level 3.

    The country has been in Alert Level 4 for the past two weeks after one case of the Delta variant was reported in Auckland on August 18.

    Invercargill resident Carmen Bungard woke up early yesterday to have her barista coffee.

    “We are enjoying the lockdown as much as possible. I think the only thing that was missing was my coffee.”

    The first sip of takeaway coffee after two weeks was satisfying, but while she appreciated the time off with her family, she believed the region was ready to drop alert levels.

    “It has been good but I’m looking forward to going to Alert Level 2. I hope we can move next week as Southland is really doing its part.”

    For Southern Seafood Products owner Peter van Duivenvoorde, the drop in alert levels meant his market had now increased.

    At Alert Level 4 he was able to produce food and send it to suppliers, but wasn’t allowed to sell it himself.

    With the move down in alert levels yesterday, he hoped it would increase those purchasing his products as more restaurants and cafes would now be able to provide food through contactless pick-ups and deliveries.

    “Hopefully it helps the food service industry because that’s where we’re missing out on the most.”

    He believed he was one of the lucky ones, as he had a well-established business which had been operating for many years.

    “You really feel for people like the new owners of the Cheeky Llama cafe in Queens Park, who only took over the business a short time ago.

    “People who have just set up new businesses will be finding it really hard right now.”

    Southland Chamber of Commerce president Neil McAra believed the experience of last year’s Alert Level 4 lockdown made business owners in the region more resilient and prepared, but it did not mean there still were not challenges.

    The short period and lack of clarity given by the Government put extra pressure on businesses, he said.

    “Hopefully Level 3 will be for a short period. The biggest challenge for businesses, obviously, is not knowing the outcome in advance.”

    Mr McAra said the uncertainty made it hard for businesses to plan both staffing and supplies but most businesses already had a business plan for when the region moved to Alert Level 2.

    For this to happen, the Government was looking at several indicators, including the number of people vaccinated.

    The Southern District Health Board (SDHB) estimates 60% of people from Southland and Otago had received at least one dose of vaccine and almost 30% were fully vaccinated.

    Before the lockdown, until August 17, 189,126 vaccines had been delivered in the Southern District, while from August 18 to August 31, 78,595 vaccines were delivered in the Southern District.

    “Since going into lockdown, and the opening up of two further age bands during that time, we have noticed a high demand for vaccinations and have been working with our providers
    across the district to increase capacity to cater to this,” SDHB vaccine rollout incident controller Hamish Brown said.

    “We have been very pleased with the positive response from the public and are grateful for the hard work of the teams on the frontline to protect the community.”

    An example of this is the vaccination clinic at the Civic Theatre in Invercargill.

    Before the lockdown and since it opened in April, the team had administered 26,986 doses.

    After two weeks of lockdown, 3825 doses were delivered.

    “The vaccine programme is working closely with the 20 general practices and pharmacies already operating in Southland and Invercargill to build capacity and ensure that the needs of the community are being met.

    “There is enough vaccine for everyone in New Zealand – no-one will miss out,” Mr Brown said.

    • Additional reporting Karen Pasco