COVID-19: South Island furious they're staying at level 2

Even though indoor gatherings have been increased from 50 to 100, some South Island leaders are furious they're staying at level 2.

They say some businesses are being brought to their knees even though there's been no community cases for nearly a year.

It was another spring level 2 day in Christchurch on Monday as southerners enjoyed the taste of coffee and ice cream.

But they didn't enjoy the taste of a bitter pill after hearing they'll stay in level 2 for another two weeks at least.

"We should have been at 1, two weeks ago, or earlier," said Pete Marshall, from Corbridge Estate Event Venue.

"It's outrageous, there is no justification, this is day 318," added Westland Mayor Bruce Smith.

That's just short of a year with zero community transmissions in the South Island.

"Why would you keep a whole island of economy at a compressed point?" Marshall asked.

An island that has a giant water border in the Cook Strait, like Tasmania has to the rest of Australia.

"If you're in Australia, Tasmania, it's basically level 0 and the borders are similar and the stretch of water is similar," publican Max Bremner argued.

"There's never been an explanation as to why we are sitting at level 2. Can someone tell me?" Marshall asked.

Over to you, Prime Minister.

"We are sometimes seeing people who are using legitimate means to travel for what are essentially rule-breaking purposes so that's why we are being cautious throughout the rest of the country so as long as we have cases in Auckland," Jacinda Ardern explained at her press conference on Monday.

Level 2 is fine for some sectors - but for theatres and events, even at 100, it's hopeless.

"Regardless of whether it's 50 people or 100 people or whatever is allowed at an event, our major events have been killed," Smith said.

For hospitality, any increase to level 2 capacity is welcomed.

"At 50, it's just too tough, especially the bigger bars in town, it's far too tough," Bremner said.

His bar Fat Eddies is licenced at 350 people. That can't return a profit even at the new limit of 100.

But some South Islanders say today's decision is on track.

"It's good, yep," one said.

"I feel really good about it, I think it's the right thing to do, I think we should still be a little bit cautious," another added.

We're going to have to hold the phone South Island for a little longer yet.