New Zealand says freight not behind second wave

written by Adam Thorn | August 18, 2020
A file image of an Air New Zealand cargo container. (Air New Zealand)
An Air New Zealand cargo container. (Air New Zealand)

New Zealand’s director general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, has finally ruled out any possibility that cargo flights led to the country’s second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Previously, there had been speculation that freight arriving from overseas into an Americold cold-storage facility in Auckland was responsible, given one of the infected cases worked there.

The origin of the new outbreak, which came after 100 straight days without so-called community transmission, is still unknown with active cases on Tuesday hitting 90.

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Last week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the Auckland region would re-enter an ‘alert level 3’ lockdown for three days after four new COVID-19 cases were identified, with people back to working from home and gatherings of more than 10 people banned.

The rest of the country was then moved into lighter ‘alert level 2’ restrictions, which limited mass gatherings to 100 people and saw the return of social distancing.

Finally, last Friday, PM Ardern confirmed rumours the lockdown would be extended until Thursday, 27 August in Auckland.

Australian Aviation previously reported how the restrictions led to Air New Zealand reducing services to and from Auckland.

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The airline said the decision came alongside “significantly reduced demand” but that its network outside of the capital would maintain its existing schedule, albeit with social distancing introduced and masks in Auckland made mandatory.

Seats are now kept free between travelling groups, food and drink is not be served on board, and lounges and valet parking are closed.

Previously, during the height of the pandemic in April, the airline’s staff wore masks but passengers were not required to.

Number of weekly returns to and from Auckland

Christchurch – 13
Gisborne – 3
Kerikeri – 7
Napier – 3
Palmerston North – 3
Tauranga – 3
Wellington – 7
Whangarei – 7

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