Coronavirus: All your alert level 2 questions answered

New Zealand will shift to COVID-19 alert level 2 at 11:59pm on Wednesday night and as Kiwis get a taste of freedom, there is still some confusion over what is and isn't allowed.

Under level 3 and 4 Kiwis were mostly asked to stay at home unless they were exercising, going to work or getting essential items. But as of Thursday businesses can open as long as they adhere to strict physical distancing and contact tracing measures. 

The same goes for domestic travel which can recommence and the 'bubble' system will be dropped, meaning people can meet up with friends as long as they're in groups that are no more than 10 people. 

Schools and early learning centres will also reopen, as well as public places like playgrounds.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern outlined the rules of level 2 last Thursday but there were still some questions left unanswered. So Newshub has compiled a list of all the dos and don'ts of alert level 2. 

Socialising, gatherings and public events

Social gatherings are back on the table but with restrictions on the number of people and some activities. Cafes, restaurants and cinemas must follow strict rules including not taking bookings of more than 10 people. All the details about social gatherings can be found here

I have a family of 10 does that mean we can't see anyone else?

While all social gatherings need to be limited to 10, last Thursday Ardern addressed the concern of big families during her daily press conference on Thursday. 

Ardern said people with a large family should go to a cafe or park to meet up with friends to keep numbers below 10.

What if my family is more than 10 people, do I need to kick someone out?

No, the good news is that families with more than 10 members don't need to split up but they will have to meet people away from their house and other family members. 

Can I have a party with all my friends? 

No, unfortunately, parties are out. However, the Prime Minister said small get-togethers, limited to 10 people, can happen but it is important everyone takes note of who they have been in contact with in case contact tracing is necessary. 

Can we go to a cafe with a group of more than 10 people?

No, cafes and restaurants are only allowed to take bookings for 10 people max. They also have to follow the three 'S's', seated, separated and every table must have a single server. 

What about nightclubs, will they be open?

Under alert level 2 bars have to wait a further seven days from 11:59pm Wednesday before opening. They can only open on Wednesday if their main service is providing food and they are operating as a cafe or restaurant. So if you want to pop out for a few drinks with your friends you will have to wait.

Can I casually date?

Under level 2 'bubbles' are gone so it is possible to go on a date but Ardern has urged Kiwis to take personal responsibility and be cautious. She said people shouldn't have a lot of contact with strangers because it puts them more at risk. 

Can I visit a loved one at a nursing home or hospital?

Yes, visitors will be allowed in rest homes at level 2 but there will be significant restrictions, including a limit on the number of visitors and a time limit of 30 minutes. Visitors will also have to plan their visit with the rest home, instead of just showing up. 

Hospital visits under level 2 will be managed by DHBs but only one visitor will be allowed at a time in high-risk areas like intensive care. And of course, anyone who is sick must stay home until they are better. 

Are funerals allowed?

Funerals are allowed with up to 50 people after the Government increased the limit from 10 on Wednesday afternoon. However physical distancing rules still apply and no food can be served. Funeral directors have to apply for the exemption in order to have 50 guests otherwise only 10 people can attend. 

Travel and transport

Domestic travel is allowed under level 2 but it must be done safely by physical distancing and keeping track of your movements and the people you come in contact with in case contact tracing is required. 

Are people arriving from overseas still required to self-isolate/go into quarantine?

Anyone entering New Zealand during level 2 will still be placed in managed-isolation for 14 days, or quarantined if they are showing symptoms.

Can I use public transport?

Public transport will be available but it's important to keep a physical distance between yourself and others. The Government is also urging people to use public transport in off-peak times where possible. 

Can I visit my parents in a different city?

Yes, you can travel domestically as long as you do it safely and you are not sick. It is important to make sure you keep records of where you go and who you see in case contact tracing is required. You cannot travel to events that aren't allowed under level 2.

Can I take a holiday around New Zealand?

Going on holiday within New Zealand is fine as long as you are in a group no bigger than 10, and follow the rules above. 

Workplaces and businesses

Many businesses can reopen including restaurants, malls, cinemas, shops, health services, and hairdressers. Businesses can operate as long as they can do so safely and follow the Government's rules. Any business that opens must maintain hygiene measures, including physical distancing, hand washing and regularly cleaning surfaces. For a full list of the rules and which businesses can open visit the Government's COVID-19 website here

What businesses are allowed to open?

Cafes, restaurants, retail stores and other businesses without close physical contact can all open as long as they ensure there is physical distancing, contact tracing and where applicable follow the three S's - seated, separated, single server. 

Can I get a haircut?

Hairdressers can open but they must minimise close contact, have robust contact tracing measures in place and wear appropriate personal protective gear. 

Are sex workers allowed to trade again?

It is still unclear what types of sex work, if any, will be allowed under level 2.  The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective is currently in negotiations with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Health about what level 2 means for sex workers.

Gyms will reopen but they must follow physical distancing and contact tracing rules.
Gyms will reopen but they must follow physical distancing and contact tracing rules. Photo credit: Getty Images

Exercise, recreation and sport

Most usual exercise options are allowed under level 2 as long as they can be done safely. Activities such as boating, hunting and swimming will all be allowed. For all the details about what sport is allowed click here.

Are gyms open?

Gyms are allowed to reopen as long as they have no more than 100 people and follow contact tracing and physical distancing guidelines. There is still some uncertainty around what the 100 person rule means for different gyms and each gym will have its own rules in place.

Are public parks, playgrounds and pools open?

Yes, they will all be open however the same rules around gatherings and physical distancing apply. Swimming pools will be controlled by each council and will have restrictions also. Playgrounds will be thoroughly cleaned before they are opened. 

Will my sports league be open? 

Professional sports that operate as a workplace can reopen but there will be no crowds and restrictions will apply. Non-professional sports leagues cannot resume yet. 

Will public toilets be open again?

Public toilets and carparks will reopen under level 2.

Can I pat other people's pets?

Yes, the good news is you can pat stranger's pets again, as long as you have the owner's permission, and wash your hands thoroughly when you get home.

Education

Are schools open? 

Early learning services, schools and tertiary education facilities will be open for all students and young people from May 18.

However, if any school is connected to a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, they must close on an individual or group basis to allow contact tracing, and then potentially for a further 14 days.

General

Do I still need to wash my hands?

Yes, it is important to maintain good hygiene at all times regardless of COVID-19. The best way to stay healthy is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Do I need to wear a mask?

There is currently no requirement to wear a mask unless you work in an industry where it is required. However, it is unlikely to cause you any harm if you choose to wear one, as long as you do so correctly.

How long will level 2 last?

Level 2 will last for at least 2 weeks before it will be reviewed and could be extended. In total the country has been in some form of lockdown for nearly two months already. 

Enforcement and punishment 

What happens if I break the level 2 rules?

Individuals who repeatedly break the rules could be arrested and jailed. Businesses that break the rules will be shut down, according to Prime Minister Ardern. She also warned that any queueing outside must be managed by the businesses. 

Ardern also acknowledged the sacrifices everyone has made and cautioned Kiwis to be vigilant and to not get complacent with the easing restrictions. 

"We all know there is more to do. We may have won a few battles, but we have not won the war."

Alert level 2 at a glance:

  • businesses can restart for staff and customers
  • 'bubbles' can cease
  • domestic travel recommences 
  • schools and early learning centres can open
  • gatherings both indoors and outdoors are limited to 100 people
  • public places reopen
  • sport and recreation comes back, including professional sports competitions
  • home gatherings must be kept small
  • hospitality must follow the three S's: seated, separated, single-server 

 

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz