Covid 19 coronavirus: Aucklanders hit cafes, restaurants and the roads under level 2

Excited Aucklanders are bursting their bubbles this morning with coffee catch-ups, brunches and trips out of the city after a week cooped up under tough Covid-19 restrictions.

An life returns to normal across the rest of the nation as level-2 restrictions give way to the freedom of level 1 life.

The nation’s biggest city exits its alert level 3 Covid lockdown at 6am and moves into an alert level 2 stance that allows diners and shoppers back into stores and friends and groups to meet those they don’t live with.

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Auckland’s weather won’t exactly join in on the fanfare, though, with cloudy periods leading into afternoon rain and a high of 22C.

Wellington residents, meanwhile, could expect rainy spells and a top of 20C today, while Christchurch residents, in the South Island, were set for showers beginning midday that could turn heavy.

Dubbed by some pundits as “the least-loved lockdown” yet, Auckland’s week-long level 3 shutdown was brought on by Covid-exposed contacts breaking the rules and not isolating properly.

Sam Jambu, the manager of Boy & Bird eatery, said each day of lockdown made it harder for businesses to bounce back and that he’d never seen the Ponsonby Rd restaurant strip so quiet.

“Business is down, but with the move to alert level 2 tomorrow, we’re hoping it will pick back up,” he said.

Adding to a sense among some Aucklanders that they could have returned to lesser restrictions quicker was the fact New Zealand reported six days running – including yesterday – with no new Covid community cases.

There were fears among some pundits that Aucklanders might disobey social distancing rules on Saturday – the last day of alert level 3.

However, drizzling rain helped dampen the idea that city beaches like Takapuna Beach in the North Shore would be flooded with congregating Aucklanders.

Instead, only small bunches of people could be seen on Takapuna Beach’s sands today, with puppies and children straggling behind.

Most appeared to be keeping to their bubbles.

Most busy was the action out on the water. At least 30 wind- and kitesurfers swept across waters in front of the beach, riding the breeze as Rangitoto Island rested behind.

Overall, police received 936 notifications to 105 possible level 3 restriction breaches between February 28 and last Friday, March 5.

Today, meanwhile, should be busier as Aucklanders were able to return to work and school, eat out at restaurants, move outside their bubbles, return to gyms, hair salons and nail bars.

Yet restrictions remained.

No more than 100 people were allowed at sports events, church services and social gatherings, including weddings, birthdays, funerals and tangihanga.

Businesses could open, but they legally must follow public health rules. These included physical distancing and record keeping.

Everyone — workers, contractors and customers — with cold, flu or Covid-19 symptoms should also stay home, health teams said.

And experts reminded Aucklanders they should take their alert level precautions with them and be extra cautious if they choose to leave the city today.

Exactly what sparked the Papatoetoe High School cluster – and Auckland’s lockdown – still remains a mystery.

So too does the exact origins of the pandemic, which has wreaked havoc across the world for more than year now.

Some answers may be revealed as the World Health Organisation announced it would release its report into the source of the Covid-19 outbreak within the next two weeks.

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