Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Ask us anything on Covid – September 7

Living in alert level 3 and 4 lockdown comes with a unique set of rules, some of which are not always clear. In our new daily feature we answer questions from readers about anything Covid-related. Email [email protected]

When we hear that police are issuing “infringement notices” for breach of level restrictions, are these just some kind of a warning or actually fines? Exactly what are the penalties for breaches?
Garth P

Police began issuing infringements for Covid 19 related breaches from August 19. The majority of these infringements are issued for people undertaking non-essential movement outside their home.

A person who commits an infringement offence receives an infringement notice and is liable for a fee of $300, or a fine imposed by a court of up to $1000.

As of 5pm on August 31, police had issued 2707 infringement notices nationwide – the vast majority of which were for people not remaining at their current home.

Other fines were given out for not wearing a face covering, not following physical distancing rules, obstructing a medical officer or not complying with a health order, not closing a non-essential business, not displaying a QR code and organising an outdoor gathering.

Police have said they were continuing to take an education-first approach but would “move to enforcement action quickly where it is required”.

Other enforcement options include formal warnings or criminal charges – most of which have been for protesting and intentional breaches of lockdown restrictions.

By August 31, 139 people had been charged with a total of 148 offences and 374 people were warned for 377 offences.

I am a body corporate committee chair for a small property undergoing leaky building repairs. It’s now 12 months behind schedule and the owners have been forced into alternative accommodation. The contractor has closed site because of the lockdown. Is there any way under level 4 that some work can continue, e.g. exterior cladding, plumbing, electrical as they are all subcontractors and could work as sole contractors on site.

Judging by the rules, probably not.

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokeswoman could not give advice on your specific example but said it was up to businesses to check and make a call on whether they meet the criteria for operating under alert level 4.

According to the Ministry, building, construction and maintenance services may be able to operate during level 4 restrictions if they are required to address immediate health or safety risks; are working on nationally important infrastructure that enables or supports supply chains to provide for the current needs of the community or for the immediate recovery from Covid; or for undertaking necessary work to maintain the condition, value or cleanliness of a premise, equipment or goods.

One approved level 4 example provided by the Ministry in its guidelines is repairing damage to a building that prevents the occupants from having a dry, warm environment.

Since the owners had already moved out and are presumably living in a dry, warm environment, it would be a stretch to argue leaky building repair work was essential.

Next year my daughter is getting married in Cyprus. If I was to go would I be able to get back into New Zealand? I have a British passport but I have New Zealand residency.
Julie J

The New Zealand Government is advising that New Zealanders do not travel overseas atthe moment because of the pandemic, associated health risks and travel restrictions.

Most foreign travellers can no longer enter New Zealand but New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and residents with valid travel conditions can still get back into New Zealand.

Assuming you are a permanent resident or have valid travel conditions, there is one main problem you could face – that is getting a spot in a Managed Isolation or Quarantine facility on your return.

There are very limited spaces and huge demand from Kiwis wanting to come home, meaning some people have still not been able to secure a spot after months of trying.

As the system stands at the moment you would have to secure a spot in MIQ (best done before you leave) and pay for the two-week stay yourself. The charge for a New Zealand resident is $3100 for the first or only person in the room plus $950 for each additional adult.

Prior to the Delta outbreak, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had laid out the bones of a plan to start to reopen the country at some point next year.

Exactly when that is due to happen and how that might be affected by the current outbreak remain to be seen.

The plan she set out meant fully vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries would not have to isolate and for those coming from medium-risk countries some isolation would be required – but it could be a shorter stay in MIQ or home isolation.

If you were not fully vaccinated by the time you left you would still have to do 14 days in MIQ. The same would apply if a major outbreak in Cyprus saw it added to the list of high-risk countries.

If Cyprus was added to the list of very high-risk countries you would also have to spend two weeks in a country that was not classed as very-high risk before you could fly back to New Zealand to begin your stay in MIQ.

You’re also likely to be required to return a negative Covid test before you board a plane back to New Zealand.

Can you get a parking ticket in level 4 lockdown?

In Auckland you can still get a parking ticket during level 4 but only if someone dobs you in.

Parking wardens are not out patrolling like usual but Auckland Transport has two teams of 12 wardens dealing with requests during level 4.

Auckland Transport said parking compliance officers were responding to requests by the public but prioritised safety-based offences because of the limited number of staff working.

I have looked on the Government Covid site and can see no mention of the level 4 rule where you should keep pets on a leash. Can you clarify, particularly because you have said there is no evidence pets play a role in spreading the virus?
John S

The Ministry for Primary Industries explains you can continue to walk your dog in all alert levels but it sets out some guidelines people should follow.

One of those is to keep your dog on a leash when out walking in alert level 4.

“Keeping them on a leash minimises the chance of needing to break your “bubble” to retrieve your pet, as well as the risk of accidents. Don’t do anything that may require help if you or your dog end up getting into trouble,” the MPI website explains.

The other dog walking recommendations for level 4 include: act like you have Covid; maintain a distance from other people, wear and mask, and don’t invite anyone who isn’t already in your “bubble” to join you; and if at all possible, walk from your house, rather than driving to a walking area.

There is no evidence pets or the livestock species farmed in New Zealand can spread Covid but as a precautionary measure MPI says that if someone in the household has the virus any dogs in the household should not be exercised off the property.

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