Moving company flooded with clients after Govt announces Aucklanders can move city if relocating permanently

Moving company flooded with clients after Govt announces Aucklanders can move city if relocating permanently
Photo credit: Getty Images

By Ella Stewart for RNZ

A New Zealand moving company says it has been inundated with calls since Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that people in Auckland could now move to another city if they are relocating permanently.

Since Auckland was plunged into lockdown six weeks ago, families with plans to pack up and move to another part of New Zealand have been in limbo.

Until now, exceptions for crossing the boundary had been limited to essential work and under urgent circumstances. But on Tuesday, the Government announced more reasons will be added to the permitted travel list.

People will be able to travel from Auckland into a level 2 environment if they are relocating permanently, if they have shared caregiving arrangements and if they are returning from alert level 3 to an alert level 2 environment.

That includes people who have bought or rented a property, are starting a new job, or need to get to a hall of residence for tertiary study.

The sales director from New Zealand Movers, Tony Dalton, said that since the announcement they have been inundated with calls from families making plans to move.

"Myself and the team are all feeling absolutely ecstatic that our customers can move out of Auckland into the rest of the country, and obviously with the government-prescribed measures in place ... the phones are going full-on off the hook."

Dalton said he has been in contact with around 200 families on a daily basis, hoping the prime minister would ease restrictions so he could help them move.

"Each time the news report comes on we are all standing there alongside our customers, not in the same building, obviously, but all watching news all trying to get those updates."

When the lockdown hit on August 17, he said it left those who were supposed to be moving feeling stuck.

"The recent level 4 lockdown across New Zealand was issued with almost no notice period and we saw multiple families impacted, many stranded from day one. It's been very difficult for us to try to help those customers out when we weren't able to under level 4, very, very difficult."

Dalton said they are expecting the next couple of weeks to be extremely busy as they deal with a backlog of pre-scheduled and organised house moves from the past five weeks.

He said they will be operating under strict level 3 protocols, to ensure the safety of both customers and staff.

"We make sure that no one has just been recently released out of MIQ or no one is feeling unwell, so we do customer declarations which we have done up front prior to us coming into their homes. We apply social distancing rules in place, the use of masks and hand sanitisers."

Dalton said all staff crossing the border will be required to be tested every seven days and he is encouraging everyone to be vaccinated.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says people's situations have changed over the last six weeks and their need to leave Auckland has become more urgent.

"People have been able to delay moving house for only so long, for example, or starting a new job or continuing with their tertiary education. Many people intend or need to leave Auckland permanently or part of their life such as their child is across the boundary, and they may have shared care arrangements."

For those leaving Auckland and not returning the prime minister said they need to get a negative test within 72 hours before departure, which is the same requirements for those who are already permitted to move across the boundary.

"For those crossing the boundary for shared caregiving arrangements because this involves more back and forth travel than a one off, they'll need to have a test within seven days of each crossing, just like the crossing requirements we have for those who are moving freight or a part of essential work.

"Everyone must carry proof of why they are travelling, and you must not be sick when you travel."

She said the increased flexibility on leaving the boundary is because alert level 3 is working, however the government will continue to monitor the situation.