By Amy Williams of RNZ
It is day 83 of lockdown for Aucklanders – yes, we’re counting – and many feel that rising case numbers will overshadow any reprieve in restrictions this week.
The city is at level 3, step 1, and today the Government will decide if a move to greater freedoms in level 3, step 2 can go ahead from Wednesday.
At step 2, shops can open to socially distanced customers and people can gather outdoors in larger numbers.
RNZ spoke to residents meeting in bubbles for picnics at Okahu Bay.
Anvil Banez, who cycled to the beach, was feeling confident about any potential easing of lockdown restrictions.
“It’s dragged on a lot. I think it would be really nice to get a sense of normalcy again. Maybe just going to the Westfield mall or something, do a bit of window shopping again, that definitely hasn’t been around for a while.”
Others were worried about easing restrictions given the rising case numbers – the city reached a new daily record of 200 cases on Saturday.
Jackie Hokai was dealing with lockdown fatigue but understood the need for it.
“Pretty mixed, I’m happy because people will be able to go out shopping and it’s good for business but on the other hand it could be just making things worse.”
A healthcare worker, she works with disabled people, and will continue to shop online if the malls re-open.
“I won’t go out shopping, not to places where I don’t need to go. I’m a healthcare worker so I’ll try to keep away from as many bubbles as I can.”
Que is hoping for a move to level 3 step 2 so he can see his wider family.
“I’m still able to work and that sort of thing, which is good, but life’s not all about work. Just simple things like seeing family and being with family … it sucks a bit.”
Simon Fell was on his second visit to the beach for the day – bringing his deck chair to catch up with a friend.
He felt the time was right to start easing restrictions.
“It’s a step forward, it’s going to help the local restaurant industry and things like that I think it’s a good thing. Again, we’ve still got to be careful as long as we get over that 90 per cent, get everyone vaccinated.”
Sam Jurriaans, who has worked in retail, felt for the sector.
“I’m very aware of the fact that retail really needs to open for Christmas in order for people to survive and for the economy but also concerned about the spread of Delta.”
He said opening up the malls before allowing people to visit family in their homes was perplexing.
“There’s a little frustration there as well with the inconsistencies like I can go to a mall with thousands of vaccinated and potentially unvaccinated people but I can’t go to my mum’s house.”
Sam’s brother Patrick said Aucklanders just want a great Christmas.
“Personally, I think Christmas is really what everyone is holding out for, you can just tell,” he said.
“I think the Government understands that as well, I don’t know how they’re going to implement it, it’s going to be very tricky with the amount of people that are travelling but I think it’s a priority for everyone. We just need a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.”
The decision about alert levels for Auckland and upper Northland will be revealed at the post-Cabinet media conference this afternoon.
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