We’ve been at home in our bubbles for four weeks but it’s important to remember that while parts of the economy are opening up under COVID-19 Alert Level 3, that doesn’t mean our social lives can open up too.
Paul Blewman, one of four controllers of the North Waikato Combined Emergency Operations Centre (NWCEOC), says while getting fresh air and exercise is important for our wellbeing, we still need to stay as close to home as possible under Alert Level 3 to reduce the risk.
“We’re asking you all to use your brains. We don’t want to lose the gains that we’ve made as a community and a country.
“While travel is being relaxed under Alert Level 3, the rule of thumb is simple. Keep it local. Don’t get in your car if you don’t have to. You should still only be travelling for essentials – work, school, groceries.
“We also know you’re all itching to get to places like the Hakarimata Track, but this popular walking track will remain closed under COVID-19 Alert Level 3. This is due to the inability to enforce the physical distancing rule on the track and the use of handrails up the stairs,” Mr Blewman says.
Also announced last week, hunters will be able to hunt on private land with special restrictions when New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, but not on public conservation land.
Hunting was not allowed under Alert Level 4, but a shift to Level 3 will mean hunters can once again hunt locally - as long as they have the landholder’s permission and stick to the rules.
Mr Blewman says the start of the duck hunting season has also been postponed from Saturday 2 May to start on the second weekend after New Zealand moves to Alert Level 2.
“The risks associated with groups of people coming together is just too high. We’re still encouraging New Zealanders to spend time in nature where possible if it’s local, but this is not the time to take up hunting as a new hobby or explore the backcountry and go on an overnight tramp. Use your common sense – stay local, stay safe,” he says.
Need some tips to get through this next stage? Check out these “Golden Rules” for life at Alert Level 3.
- Stay home. If you are not at work, school, exercising or getting essentials then you must be at home, the same as at level 4.
- Work and learn from home if you can. We still want the vast majority of people working from home, and children and young people learning from home. At risk students and staff should also stay at home, and they will be supported to do so. Early learning centres and schools will physically be open for up to Year 10 for families that need them.
- Make your business Covid-19 safe. Covid-19 has spread in workplaces, so the quid pro quo of being able to open is doing it in a way that doesn’t spread the virus.
- Stay regional. You can exercise at parks or beaches within your region, but the closer to home the better. Activities must be safe – keep 2 metres away from anybody not in your bubble. Make minimal trips.
- Keep your bubble as small as possible. If you need to, you can expand your bubble a small amount to bring in close family, isolated people or caregivers.
- Wash your hands often with soap. Then dry them. Cough and sneeze into your elbow.
- If you are sick, stay at home and quickly seek advice from your GP or Healthline about getting a test. There is no stigma to COVID-19. We will only be successful if everyone is willing to play their part in finding it wherever it is.
Editor’s note: Hamilton City Council and Waikato District Council have joined forces to operate the centre, providing logistical and community support to assist the public health response.
For more information please contact:
Senior Communications & Engagement Advisor
Waikato District Council
027 706 5776