Covid-19: Kaitāia community down but not out with the sudden lockdown of the Far North
The instant lockdown is “heartbreaking” for KaitÄia, but most residents and businesses believe it is the right decision for the safety of the community.
The city and the north of the Far North were suddenly placed on Alert Level 3 at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, after two cases of Covid-19 in the Kaingaroa region could not be linked to existing cases.
There have been 14 cases of Covid-19 identified in Northland in the past fortnight, although three have since recovered.
Raewyn Flay, head of KaitÄia Community House and Family Budget, said a number of financial problems were caused by the lockdowns, with Northland also moving to Level 3 on October 8.
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“Small businesses are really struggling, working families are really struggling because they can’t get the hours they need to cover their financial responsibility and the community has access to more food aid,” he said. she declared.
âIt is certainly a stressful time, but it is a necessary process to ensure that our whÄnau and our community are safe from Covid,â said Flay.
At KaitÄia’s Beachcomber restaurant, manager Tua Dephoff said the sudden lockdown was a disgrace, and meant food and drinks had to be thrown away.
“It’s a bummer, definitely … It would be better if we didn’t have level 3 because I think a lot of companies are already struggling.”
But Dephoff admitted the restaurant had been quiet in the weeks leading up to the lockdown, with many customers scared of Covid-19.
KaitÄia Business Association president Andrea Panther said the Alert Level 3 decision was “heartbreaking” for businesses that can’t open, including hairdressers, beauticians, chiropractors and restaurants.
“A few [businesses] feel very depressed … There is anxiety in business people, they are very worried about how they are going to survive.
But Panther said the government made the right choice with the restrictions because vaccination rates are low in Northland.
“We have so many anti-vaccines and pro-choice people here … It scared people.”
This sentiment was reflected in the streets of KaitÄia, with several locals recounting Thing they wouldn’t get the vaccine for fear of what it would do – despite scientific evidence that shows it’s much riskier to decline it than to have it – and one of them saying it doesn’t would not follow government foreclosure rules.
Testing stations in KaitÄia and Awanui were busy Wednesday, with reports of people waiting two to three hours for a test.
At Awanui Rugby Club, Hayden Flintoff said he had to take a test to work in roadworks, but he was philosophical about the lockdown: “Prevention is better than cure”.
Errol Murrayâ of Maori health organization Whakawhiti Ora Paiâ, said he was happy with the instant lockdown, especially given the high rates of unvaccinated Maori in KaitÄia and north of Hokianga.
âIt was about protecting our most vulnerable,â he said.
In Te Kao, there has been a noticeable increase in testing, with 47 people being tested, from the usual rates of less than 10 per day.
Police and iwi borders put in place in the short term
The instant lockdown meant police and the iwi Tai Tokerau Border Control checkpoint group had to work quickly to put the borders in place by midnight on Tuesday.
Checkpoints were set up on State Highway at Mangamuka, State Highway 10 north of KÄeo and on the Kohukohu side of the ferry crossing to Hokianga Port.
Northland District Commander Superintendent Tony Hill said not everyone was aware of the change in alert level.
âWe appreciate that this is the first time that parts of the Northland region have been split into different alert levels and we engaged and educate motorists at checkpoints today,â he said. .
Tai tokerau regional border control coordinator Rueben Taipari said on Wednesday morning that four out of five cars in Mangamuka had to be turned back because their trip was not essential.
Taipari was also happy that the government had locked down the Far North, known as Muriwhenua, and he believed it was possible to bring the outbreak under control there.
But he was not happy that Covid-19 had come this far north in the first place, saying a checkpoint should have been established south of WaipÅ« earlier, to prevent the virus from moving up from Auckland.
One positive element, however, was the close relationship the iwi has formed with the police, he said, meaning the border could be drawn in the short term, with iwi volunteers encouraging testing and vaccination. .