Northern Northland is breathing a sigh of relief after news it will return to coronavirus alert level 2 at 11.59pm on Thursday.
Since then, the number of community cases in Northland has risen to 23 in the Delta outbreak, including a 6-week-old baby who is being treated in hospital.
But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday afternoon there had been high testing rates in the area, with 10 to 15 per cent of the population getting a Covid-19 test in the past week.
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The announcement of five new cases on Monday were linked to ongoing contact tracing and the testing of close contacts, she said.
Moving back to alert level 2 on Thursday night, rather than anytime sooner, allowed for this contact tracing and testing to continue, Ardern said.
On Saturday, Northland District Health Board thanked Northlanders for isolating after being told they were close contacts, with no new locations of interest announced in Northland since the weekend.
Kaitāia Business Association chairperson Andrea Panther said the announcement was a pleasant surprise after five cases were announced on Monday.
“It’s exciting for our businesses who are doing it tough,” she said. “They’re so eager to get back and selling before Christmas.”
Dropping alert levels on Thursday night, rather than tomorrow, was a little frustrating, but at least businesses has a date to work to, Panther said.
Kaitaia businesses have not just been impacted by lockdowns, but were also cut-off from visitors south of Northland, and were missing international tourists.
“It’s terrible,” she said.