Coronavirus: South Island leaders condemn COVID-19 alert level decision

Some South Island leaders are fuming to be fenced in at alert level 4, saying it's the wrong decision by the Government.

The South Island will also move to level 3 on midnight Tuesday, despite zero community cases in the mainland.

Cancel your weekend takeaway dreams Southerners - it's four days more of level 4. Close, but no cigar - and for some, it's infuriating. 

"It's absolutely frustrating," said Riverside Market's Mike Percasky. 

"I'm not comfortable with it at all," added Westland Mayor Bruce Smith.

Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult said, "we are in danger as a community of largely failing, financially".

Despite zero cases in the South Island, the lower half of the country is in the holding pen with everyone south of Auckland, now waiting until midnight Tuesday to move to Level 3.

"It won't be welcomed, it hasn't considered the South Island economy, it hasn't been a rational look at the mix of health and economic risks," said Mayor Smith.

This team of about 1.2 million is hoping they'd get to play a different game from the country's wider squad.

"We are disappointed. The South Island's been free of this, it's two weeks since the outbreak," said Mayor Boult.

Reaction from the South Island's streets was more positive.

"I think they've got valid reasons for holding us at level 3 'til Tuesday," said one Nelson local.

"We're happy, it's pretty much what we expected," added another.

A Christchurch resident said it was alright as it's just another couple of days, while Dunedin locals said it's better to be safe than sorry and just hoped everything gets back to normal soon.

The South Island has gone from 120 close contacts at the start of this week to now 438 registered people isolating there.

The COVID-19 found in Christchurch's wastewater also influenced Friday's decision. Whilst still thought to be from managed isolation, further testing is still underway.

"By taking samples from a number of pump stations, we're able to really rule out that there are not other cases in the community that aren't being masked by that result," said Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 

There won't be a move to level 2 for at least 10 days, and many say economic health needs greater consideration. 

"We really need to be getting down to level 2 or level 1 for the economy to get back on track and the Government to stop hemorrhaging money," said Percasky.

"We'll see a number of businesses really struggle and potentially go to the wall," said Westland Mayor Smith.

Struggling regions now want a brighter ray of light, with Smith asking for certainty on when they will be going to be level 2.

Tuesday does offer certainty for hospitality businesses, who are happy to have time to prepare for level 3, when they expect to be run off their feet.

"We need time to prep so it's really good to have these four days to get this place ready to go," says Callum Brownlee of Joe's Garage.

An entire island is ready to go when the clock strikes midnight on Tuesday.