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HERE WE GO AGAIN

‘We have done it before and we can do it again’: Mayor Stoltz

All rest homes are in full lockdown and social distancing is back after Tairawhiti today was placed in

Covid-19 Alert Level 2.

Auckland, from midday today, was put into Level 3 while the rest of the country is at Level 2 after four cases of Covid-19 from an unknown source were confirmed yesterday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, at a media conference this morning, said one of the cases — a woman in her 20s — travelled to Rotorua at the weekend and was showing symptoms while there.

This reinforced their decision to move the remainder of the country to Level 2.

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz said this morning people should take the raised alert level seriously.

“We have done it before and we can do it again. Please observe excellent hand hygiene, keep social distancing up and most importantly, stay home if you are unwell and contact your GP or Healthline to consult about a possible test.

“We need to look after each other and again show how great Team Tairawhiti can work together.

“As a council, we will have our Civil Defence team working closely with health officials, our iwi partners and community groups to reach out to those who need assistance.

“Please stay updated via the Government’s Covid website, news media and social media.”

Under Level 2, retail businesses, including malls, markets and takeaway shops, need to keep customers two metres apart but do not need to keep records of customers to enable contact tracing. There is no maximum number of customers allowed in a store, as long as they can keep two metres apart at all times.

This morning, Pak’nSave was allowing 115 people into the store at one time, with around 100 people seen queuing there at about 10am.

Some planned events have already fallen victim to Level 2 restrictions.

A Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti (SGT)statement on Facebook said day two of the inter-school gymnastics festival at Electrinet Sport Centre had been cancelled.

“Alert Level 2 restricts gatherings to under 100 people, and as such we can’t continue with the festival,” said SGT chief executive Stefan Pishief.

“We know this will be hugely disappointing for all of our tamariki who had prepared for this event, especially after the wonderful displays we saw today (yesterday) but I am sure we all understand the need to follow the Government’s advice and look out for one another.”

SGT active communities lead Tyler Kirk said guidance was that the gathering restriction of 100 people was key.

“Groups running activities, separating groups of over 100 should be OK. We’re looking to go out to the clubs this morning to remind them what their responsibilities are.”

Mr Pishief said the sporting codes and clubs had already been preparing for sport if there was a return to Level 2 .

“We think our codes and clubs are in a pretty good space with this —it is going to be a bit of a scramble.

“We’re getting communications out today on what is cancelled and what will be running with up to 100 people.

“That will depend on each of the codes, educating the community and cutting out spectators if we have to.”

Some clubs will have staff at key entry points to count spectators attending games.

Plans in place for Alert Level 2

Poverty Bay Rugby chief executive Josh Willoughby said the sport had planned for this.

A decision about games scheduled for today —under-15 and u18 rugby — had not yet been made as of this morning.

Senior clubs are ready to play under Level 2 and train with protocols in place should they need to be activated.

Plans, which have been authorised by the district council, include limiting supporters at each field to 100, cleaning equipment before, during and after use and individual water bottles.

“We’ve been through this before,” said Mr Willoughby.

“We’re hopeful we will be at Level 1 again on Saturday.”

Poverty Bay Hockey confirmed tonight’s intermediate and tomorrow’s games for years 3 to 6 were postponed.

The move to Level 2 comes just as Gisborne theatres and other venues had geared back up to get shows going.

Under Level 2, public venues can remain open but there is a limit of 100 people at gatherings (including funerals).

Social distancing is back — two metres with strangers and public venues like retail shops and supermarkets, one metre for workplaces.

Unity Theatre’s booked out eight-day season of Calender Girls is due to open tomorrow night.

Theatre management will consult today with health officials to see what can be worked out, says assistant director and stage manager Jean McIntosh.

Updates will be posted on Unity Theatre’s Facebook page and in The Gisborne Herald.

At this stage, Michael Hurst’s solo performance of the Tom Scott play Daylight Atheist is still going ahead at Lawson Field Theatre on Sunday afternoon.

Exercise and recreation activities are allowed provided these can be done safely.

Swimming at a public swimming pool is allowed but there will be restrictions, as there will be when going to the gym.

Community sports are limited to groups of 100 in a defined space.

A sports field can have multiple defined spaces by keeping people in groups of up to 100, separated through physical distancing or barriers.

These groups are prevented from intermingling or sharing common facilities at the same time.

For dine-in customers, restaurants, cafes and bars should have customers seated, keep groups of attendees one metre apart, have a single server per group where practical and keep records of all customers and workers to enable contact tracing.

That means the cancellation of tonight’s $2000 members draw at Gisborne Tatapouri Sports Fishing Club.

“There’s two separate bars — 100 people at the main bar and 100 people at the Shark Bar tonight,” said club president Roger Faber.

“We have put social distancing in place and we just wait until Friday to find out where we go to from there.”

The Dome Room has 250 booked for Saturday’s Ultimate 70s Celebration but organisers are in a “wait-and-see” situation, says venues owner Sally Shanks.

Smash Palace will bring back sign-ins, social distancing, seating requirements and sanitiser availability protocols during Level 2. Patrons with the Covid tracer apps can scan the poster with the QR code at the door.

Tomorrow night’s regular Build a Band will include social distancing on stage.

Blues guitarist Richard Alexander’s performance will go ahead on Friday night to a seated audience of no more than 100.

“Hopefully Level 2 is lifted by Friday, but we will be prepared if it keeps going,” says Smash co-owner Darryl Monteith.

Schools remain open and those spoken to by The Herald today said they were reinforcing the need to use hand sanitiser and good health practices.

Several were also meeting today to assess if planned school trips and cross-country activities would go ahead.

All Gisborne District Council services remain unaffected.

• For full details of Level 2 restrictions go to covid19.govt.nz/covid-19/restrictions/alert-level-2/

NO NEED TO PANIC: That did not stop a large number of people heading to the supermarket today, including this queue at Gisborne Pak’nSave, despite Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s advice not to “panic buy”. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell
FESTIVAL OFF: Mangapapa School student Sage Alexander competes on the first day of the Tairawhiti Schools Gymnastics Festival at Electrinet Sport Centre. Unfortunately, the move to Alert Level 2 meant the second and final day of the festival was cancelled. While this year’s festival was down on numbers because of Covid-19, around 850 students were to perform over the two days. Picture by Paul Rickard
TAKE YOUR PICK: Tonee Mihaere with the range of fabric face masks and plastic face shields for sale at Gisborne Drycleaners and Laundromat. As the country went into Alert Level 2 at midday today Tonee was preparing for a rush on the fabric face masks. Her mum, Heather Mihaere, started making the masks about three weeks before the country went into Level 4 lockdown in late March and they have now sold more than 500. They have made a range of sizes, including those for children, in a selection of coloured and patterned fabrics. “The black masks have been the most popular. We’ve sold out of those and are about to make up another order,” Tonee says. “The masks have been really popular with essential workers and just today we’ve had Countdown employees coming over to buy them and the plastic face shields.” Heather does all of the sewing and has a workshop set up at home with about 10 sewing machines, each for different types of fabric and purposes. She also does all of the alterations for her family-owned drycleaning business. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell