A Māori pandemic group is condemning Auckland's move down to 'alert level 2.5', warning it's "premature and dangerous".
Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā, set up by Māori doctors and health experts to focus on the impact of COVID-19 on Māori, is urging the Government to stay with alert level 3 until it can be confident current clusters and new sub-clusters are under control.
What does level 2.5 mean for Auckland?
Under level 2.5, all social gatherings - whether it be birthday parties, family reunions or catch-ups with friends - will be limited to a maximum of 10 people.
Masks are mandatory on public transport, and aged care facilities will operate under strict conditions.
Importantly, Aucklanders will now be allowed to travel beyond the regional boundaries without an exemption - although they are expected to stick to the restrictions no matter where they go in the country.
What are the problems with this?
- The rōpū is concerned that:
- Community transmission numbers are still very high
- Parameters of the clusters are not clearly defined
- The epidemiological pathway in some of the cases has not been identified
- More time is needed to thoroughly investigate the emergence of the new sub-clusters
- Imported cases at the border and community transmission place additional stress on the health workforce
"Our rōpū is currently not confident that the clusters and sub-clusters are fully described and contained, and is concerned that relaxing Auckland's regional restrictions by re-opening the use of public transport and re-opening schools, workplaces and businesses in Auckland will become a vector for further spread," co-leaders Professor Papaarangi Reid, Dr Rawiri Jansen, Professor Sue Crengle and Teresa Wall say in a statement.
"The current clusters are within some of Auckland's communities made vulnerable by broader social, economic and political environments.
"We are also concerned with allowing regional travel from Auckland to other regions for the same reasons."