Coronavirus: The possibility of another lockdown still a worry for some despite restrictions easing

A psychiatrist believes COVID-19 is impacting mental health now more than ever despite alert level restrictions easing overnight.

Auckland will move to COVID-19 alert level 2 on Wednesday and stay there for at least a fortnight while the rest of the country is now at level 1.

But Professor Christopher Gale, a psychiatrist from the University of Otago, says the possibility of another lockdown is still a worry for some.

Prof Gale told Newshub concerns do remain about people's wellbeing and the future of businesses.

"What's happening now is a lot of people are finding personal hurt," he said on Monday.

"There are people who can't go to anniversaries because they're in Auckland and they're afraid to travel down. There are people who are finding their businesses have just handled this lockdown but they won't handle [another]."

With Auckland in alert level 2 for at least two weeks, gatherings are restricted to 100 while there are no limits for the rest of the country. Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Milford said businesses are welcoming the move but agreed another lockdown is still a huge concern for some, and companies are stressed about their future.

"There are a lot of apprehensions; businesses saying, 'what if'?"

Milford's urging the country to play its part so New Zealand doesn't have to re-introduce restrictions again.

"What we really need now - is to hold it at level 1," he told Newshub on Monday.

Meanwhile, Takapuna Beach Business Association spokesperson Terence Harpur said another lockdown would be the final straw for some companies.

"A lot of these businesses have now taken out extra loans - and so it will become the decision for the owner of whether you keep going, or whether you just call it quits."

The damage to Auckland's Harbour Bridge is also adding to the stress on businesses, Harpur said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday a more cautious approach was being taken with Auckland, hence the decision for the super city to remain at alert level 2.

"That means if you do see a case emerge, that we're in a better position to stamp it out," she told a news conference.

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty

"Even with those settings until the end of the month, there's still a 50-50 chance that we've reached elimination."

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