Coronavirus: What New Zealanders can do for fun under COVID-19 alert level 2

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has outlined what life under alert level 2 will look like for New Zealanders, including recreational activities that will be permitted to resume or reopen. 

During the daily press conference on Thursday, Ardern detailed what activities, services and hobbies will be allowed - as long as the correct physical distancing and hygiene measures are adhered to.

Beauty services, treatments

For those who wish to indulge in a beauty treatment or two, that is now permitted under alert level 2. For the Kiwis who are desperate to have their hair professionally styled or nails manicured, hairdressers and beauticians are permitted to reopen, as long as staff wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to mitigate any risks of transmission.

As with other businesses, beauty salons or hairdressers are able to resume operating if their clients can be seated according to the two-metre physical distancing protocol. Ardern noted that strangers are still expected to maintain that two-metre distance from one another, although we can "live with less" distance between relatives, close friends or colleagues.

Beauticians are permitted to reopen under level 3, as long as staff wear the correct PPE.
Beauticians are permitted to reopen under level 3, as long as staff wear the correct PPE. Photo credit: File

Dining out

After weeks of home-cooking, many New Zealanders are desperate to head out for brunch or a meal with their family or friends. Ardern noted that cafes, bars and restaurants are able to resume operating under level 2, although venues must only serve as many people as they can seat. That means tables must be separated and social distancing should still be adhered to within the eatery. As with all other businesses and venues, a maximum of 100 people may only be gathered at any given time. 

Ardern said hospitality businesses and patrons must adhere to the three S's: be seated, social distance and single server. 

Social gatherings, public events

As aforementioned, indoor and outdoor gatherings may only resume if the guest list is under 100. Weddings, concerts and religious services may resume under level 2, as long as the public health measures are adhered to.

Museums, markets and other public spaces can also reopen as long as physical distancing and hygiene protocols are maintained.

Hanging out with friends

Under level 2, New Zealanders no longer need to stick to their bubbles. People can see their family and friends, but are urged to maintain good hand hygiene as well as hygiene in the home - such as keeping frequently-touched surfaces, like doorknobs and countertops, clean. 

However, if throwing a party is your idea of a good time, think again. 

"This is not a time for a large party of function at your home," Ardern reiterated, acknowledging that while household gatherings are permitted, numbers should be kept small so public health measures are observed. 

Household gatherings are allowed under level 2, as long as numbers are kept small and public health measures are acknowledged.
Household gatherings are allowed under level 2, as long as numbers are kept small and public health measures are acknowledged. Photo credit: Getty

Domestic travel

If you are eager to take a trip and escape your surroundings, domestic travel will resume under alert level 3. However, social distancing will still be required on buses, in airports and on planes. If you and your isolation bubble are still on good terms after weeks of lockdown, it could be an ideal time to visit a friend or family member elsewhere in the country. 

The borders will remain closed to international travel, unless Kiwis are returning from overseas.

Kiwis no longer have to stick to their bubbles under alert level 2, although physical distancing is still important when in public. People can now reunite with family, friends and loved ones.
Kiwis no longer have to stick to their bubbles under alert level 2, although physical distancing is still important when in public. People can now reunite with family, friends and loved ones. Photo credit: File

Sports and recreation

Playgrounds, gyms and public courts will reopen and water activities can resume. Ardern says some community sports can return to play quicker than others, and more details will be released on the official COVID-19 website. 

Professional sport will also be permitted domestically, so if your idea of fun is sitting back and watching local sport with a beer in hand, that will be attainable in the not too distant future. However, the rules around mass gatherings - ensuring there are under 100 attendees - will still apply, meaning no stadium crowds just yet.

'Playing it safe'

Ardern said the level 2 will still require all New Zealanders to "play it safe" if we want to ensure our continued progress against the virus.

"We need to stay in control... even when you win one battle, that doesn't mean the war is over," she said.

The aim of level 2 is to reduce close contact with strangers, a step down the alert level ladder from the restricted movement of level 3. Level 2 acknowledges that the virus is still with us and that it's very unlikely every case has been identified. 

"Level 2 has been designed to get as many people back to work as possible and the economy running in the safest way possible," Ardern said.

One new case was confirmed on Thursday, linked to the existing Matamata cluster as a household contact of another confirmed case. The overall total of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand is now 1489.

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