New Zealand

Northland goes orange

HNZ urges Aucklanders to visit and help area recoup lost summer earnings

The last region to be kept under New Zealand’s red light setting, Northland has joined the rest of the country on an orange traffic light footing as of Friday.

The red-light restrictions have been in place since the region was effectively cut off from the rest of the country by the 100-day Auckland lockdown.

Announcing the news, Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said given Northland had not seen a rise in cases over summer, and on Thursday there were no new cases of the virus to report in the region, it was time to change the area’s traffic light setting.

But the region still has low vaccination numbers and remains the only area in New Zealand to reach 90 percent of residents with at least one dose.

Welcoming the news, Hospitality New Zealand chief executive, Julie White said the prime minister’s announcement meant a welcome relief to businesses across the region who have been severely restricted until now.

“They’ve done it particularly hard as they missed the usual influx of visitors from Auckland because of the sealed border,” she said.

Ms White said she had spoken with HNZ’s Northland Branch President, John (Kojak) Maurice, and while he was delighted with the news, he pointed out businesses have missed the real high point of their season and need all the support they can get to help them recover something before winter.

“I encourage everyone, and particularly Aucklanders, to get up there,” Ms White said.

“With their long weekend just a week away it would be great to see support for a region that has done it tough.

MS White also welcomes further clarity around the traffic light system and that lockdowns will be an absolute last resort.

“What is slightly concerning is the lack of Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits on hand right now,” she said.

“I know many more are on order, but there is a world-wide shortage, and what we’ve seen overseas is that they are crucial to keeping the workforce going, particularly front-facing staff, not just in hospitality but across most industries and through the supply chain.

“Ensuring businesses have a plentiful supply will be crucial to keep the economy ticking over.”

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