Covid 19 Delta outbreak: You shall not pass – airports promise strict checks on travellers as L3/4 divide comes into play

Level 3 is just hours away for most of New Zealand, but one thing that won’t change is travel.

In fact, travel is likely to get harder as the country splits into two distinct alert level areas and authorities work to prevent the spread of the Delta variant beyond Auckland.

At 11.59pm tonight everywhere south of Auckland will move from alert level 4 to level 3 restrictions.

Northland will move down a level on Thursday night.

But Auckland will remain in complete lockdown for at least another two weeks.

In terms of freedom – there isn’t much of a difference between the levels.

The “stay home” rules still apply and people must legally stay within their household bubble whenever they are not at work or school.

The main difference is in level 3 is that cafes, restaurants and takeaways can open – but only for contactless pick-up, delivery or drive through.

Shops, such as hardware stores, can open for contactless pickup and delivery but customers cannot be on the premises — unless it is a supermarket, dairy, butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer, petrol station, pharmacy or permitted health service.

As with level 4 – travel further than your immediate local area is still a big no unless you are granted an official Ministry of Health exemption.

Airport staff will be checking travel documents closely to ensure only those with express permission are entering to board flights.

Their message is clear – no exemption document, no entry.

“Not much changes at Wellington Airport between alert levels 3 and 4,” said spokeswoman Jenna Raeburn.

“At both alert levels, Aviation Security will be on the door checking flight information.

“The purposes for inter-regional travel are narrow at both alert level 3 and 4, so we are not anticipating a significant increase in flight numbers.”

In Christchurch, it will be the same.

“Only people who can show Aviation Security a valid boarding pass at the door will be allowed into the terminal – no family or friends can enter the terminal if they’re not travelling,” said spokeswoman Yvonne Densem.

“We don’t anticipate domestic travel increasing from current flight numbers.

“Our staff will continue to operate as they do under level 4 -our frontline stars will work in the terminal, all other staff working from home.”

There are no flights at all expected into Queenstown until the region drops to level 2.

“Under alert level 4 we are facilitating essential travel only as required,” said a spokeswoman for Queenstown Airport.

“We are not expecting any scheduled commercial flights under alert level 3.

On land, people will also be prevented from crossing “domestic borders” put in place to isolate the wider Auckland area.

The Government has ruled anyone wanting to travel across an alert level boundary needs to be eligible to travel and if necessary, obtain an official exemption.

The following travel across a boundary is permitted without an exemption:

• Accessing health services for an appointment including Covid-19 vaccinations
• Accessing judicial institutions including courts if required
• Caring for pets or other animals
• Collecting someone from MIQ or an airport
• Emergencies
• Going home – from level 3 to level 4 only
• Leaving or relocating home on a court order
• Leaving New Zealand
• Personal travel through alert level 4 without stopping
• Providing care or support for a person in a critical or terminal condition
• Shared childcare arrangements or urgent care of a child

If your reason for travelling is not among that list – you need to apply for an exemption through the Ministry of Health.

Anyone travelling under an exemption should expect that an enforcement officer will refuse them travel – or a transport service will refuse them boarding -if they do not have proof of that exemption.

Proof includes evidence of the purpose of travel and their destination including a travel document issued by the Ministry ofHealth or a letter from the appropriate authority.

Photo identification is also a requirement.

Authorities ask that people make sure they have printed copies of their evidence, or electronic copies on their device.

For businesses – there are far fewer reasons to travel across a boundary without an exemption.

You can travel freely if:

• You work for an alert level 4 business or service
• You are working for businesses or services that are exempt from the requirements of the Order
• You are travelling directly through an alert level 4 area

If you are intending on travelling for other reasons, an exemption is needed.

You cannot use Business Travel Documents from previous alert level boundaries.
You must register for new ones.

Anyone crossing the borders is expected to take all the usual health and hygiene precautions – especially those leaving level 4 areas.

Under level 3, public spaces remain closed – libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds and markets.

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