Covid-19: What we do and don’t know about how and when Aucklanders can cross the border – Stuff.co.nz

Posted: October 30, 2021 at 3:08 pm

The path out of Auckland's Covid-19 lockdown has been made clearer with the 90 per cent double-dose target, but what this means for the future of the city's border remains hazy.

Modelling by Stuff this week suggests Auckland's three DHBs will reach the target by November 29 Auckland DHB by November 9; Waitemat by the 15th, and Counties Manukau by the end of the month, given the current vaccination rate.

But what will happen to Auckland's border, and when can locked-down Aucklanders travel outside the region?

Ricky Wilson/Stuff

Auckland is in its 11th week of lockdown, after Covid-19 re-emerged in the community in mid-August.

Here's what we do and don't yet know.

READ MORE:* Covid-19: Vaccinated Aucklanders should be able to travel across border for Christmas - Jacinda Ardern * Covid-19 NZ: How domestic travel will work under the traffic light system* Covid-19: Auckland should keep regional boundary 'as long as possible' to protect country

If Auckland moves into the traffic light framework ahead of the rest of the country (when 90 per cent of the eligible population of all three DHBs are fully vaccinated), it will move into the red traffic light phase.

The air and land boundary will remain in place, to protect the rest of New Zealand, a Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) spokesperson told Stuff.

This week, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said we "don't yet know" how long the internal boundary will be in place.

The Government is working to develop comprehensive operational detail about how boundaries will operate where areas are at red but information on that is limited.

It isn't clear how soon after transitioning into red Aucklanders would be able to leave the region.

What is clear is that access is unlikely to be unfettered active work is under way around what requirements might be in place for people crossing the boundary, the spokesperson said.

Ricky Wilson/Stuff

Auckland's land and air boundary will remain in place when the region hits 90 per cent double-doses, and moves into 'red'.

We do know it is likely to require vaccination and testing, though vaccine certificates are not yet available and they arent expected to be until mid-late November.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave an assurance to Stuff that those with vaccine certificates should be able to travel in and out of Auckland by Christmas but further questions around timings have gone unanswered.

Once New Zealand moves into the traffic light system, boundary restrictions will be relied upon less, but regional borders may still be required around areas in red.

We will only transition to the new framework when it is safe to do so, and right now boundaries are helping to contain Aucklands outbreak and keep the rest of New Zealand safe, DPMC said.

It did not respond to a question asking whether Auckland's border will remain in place until all 20 DHBs move into the traffic light system.

In short, we don't know yet. And the Government is still working that out.

It is clear both the land and air border would be maintained whether there are checkpoints stopping each car for proof of vaccination and a negative test, or similar clearance at the airport, is unclear.

How these are monitored is currently being considered.

The DPMC is actively exploring domestic travel possibilities once Auckland moves into the new framework, but did not give any detail beyond saying vaccination and a negative test would likely be required.

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

Vaccination certificates and a testing regime will play a role in how Aucklanders will eventually be able to leave the region.

It is also not yet clear whether rapid antigen testing will be employed for Aucklanders leaving the region.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield this week said they may play a role in testing the workforce driving across the boundary, but not at the boundary.

This is because the tests still take 15-20 minutes to complete, and require observation.

In an interview with Stuff last week, Ardern confirmed there could be two-way travel in and out of Auckland by Christmas.

But those who have not been vaccinated will not be allowed to travel.

Ardern said the boundary was important while the vaccination programme continues, but the Government was planning to enable many more people to cross it.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has indicated that two-way travel in and out of Auckland will be possible by Christmas - but the timeline to that point is not yet clear.

So we're working on ways to see if and it is a very large logistical exercise to maintain or to establish a land border but we're looking at whether thats possible, she said.

No date has been set for when Auckland's border will be dissolved, or when Aucklanders will be able to travel out of the region save for the promise hitting 90 per cent double-doses brings.

DPMC said more detail on how the system would work, and how it will be implemented would be available in November, after further decisions by ministers.

Government agencies will be talking to community and business groups, education, faith-based and sport sectors, and other stakeholders.

In announcing the traffic light system, Ardern acknowledged people would want to be reunited over the summer holidays, so we have set ourselves a goal to try and establish whether or not this will be possible well in time for those milestones.

More here:

Covid-19: What we do and don't know about how and when Aucklanders can cross the border - Stuff.co.nz

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