Super Rugby Aotearoa could be hit by coronavirus lockdown restrictions on its final weekend as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that Auckland will go into lockdown and the rest of the country will go into level two.
The Blues, who have been attracting massive crowds to Eden Park, are due to host confirmed Super Rugby Aotearoa champions Crusaders next Sunday in their final home match, a game that was sold out earlier this week. That fixture comes a day after the Highlanders are scheduled to take on the Hurricanes on the final weekend of the ten-week tournament.
Ardern’s Tuesday night announcement came after four cases of community transmission from the same family were confirmed – after 102 days without any. Ardern and director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield announced the news and an alert was sent to New Zealanders’ phones.
As of noon Wednesday, the New Zealand Herald are reporting that Auckland will move to level 3 for three days until midnight on Friday. The rest of the country will move to alert level two at midday Wednesday – until midnight on Friday.
For Auckland, that means working from home unless you were an essential service worker. The area covered by level three is the Auckland Super City – from Wellsford in the north to Pukekohe in the south. Schools will close unless they had students whose parents were essential workers. Public facilities, bars, restaurants and businesses must also close.
Statement from @NZRugby:
“NZR is currently assessing the impact on rugby following the announcement that Auckland will tomorrow move to Covid-19 Level 3 and the rest of the country to Level 2.
NZR is in close dialogue with Government and an update will be given tomorrow.” pic.twitter.com/ZLKnMyXqqt
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) August 11, 2020
“We’re asking people in Auckland to stay home to stop the spread,” Ardern said. “Act as if you have Covid, and as though people around you have Covid.”
Pharmacies and supermarkets will remain open, but Ardern said there was no reason to panic-buy. “Please do not rush to the supermarket tonight… there is no reason to rush out and back any purchases this evening. You’ll even be able to get a takeaway coffee.”
Aucklanders should use a mask if they leave the house to access essential services. The rest of the country should wear a mask in situations where they can’t socially distance.
People who are in Auckland who need to go home to another region can do so but they should keep an eye on their health. There will be more advice Wednesday for these people and those who have recently travelled from Auckland.
Ardern said Aucklanders should keep an eye out for their neighbours. “We have come too far to go backwards. Be strong and be kind. We know what to do because we have successfully done this before.”
She acknowledged Kiwis might now have a sinking feeling but said they should know we had gone the longest of any country and there was a plan being actioned. “My request is not to be dispirited or disheartened.”
Ardern said it would not be possible to isolate a small part of Auckland, and imposing level 3 on all of Auckland was about taking a precautionary approach. For the rest of the country, mass gatherings will be limited to 100 people.
New Zealand went into level four lockdown on March 25 and moved to level three on April on April 27. It then moved into level two on May 13 and level one on June 9, a few days before the Aotearoa tournament got underway in front of huge crowds at Eden Park and Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now