Covid-19: What happened in New Zealand on 24 May

No new cases of Covid-19, two Auckland pubs shut down for failing to comply with restrictions, travel agents plead for patience as their workload mounts and Avatar filming to resume in NZ.

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Photo: 123RF / Air NZ / Ministry of Health / Supplied

As Covid-19 spreads around the world, it can be daunting keeping up with the information. For RNZ, our responsibility is to give you verified, up to the minute, trustworthy information to help you make decisions about your lives and your health. We’ll also be asking questions of officials and decision makers about how they’re responding to the virus. Our aim is to keep you informed.

There have been no new cases of Covid-19 reported for the second day in a row and there have only been three new cases of the coronavirus in the past 13 days.

In its latest media release, the Ministry of Health said there were still a total of 1504 confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand, of which 1154 were confirmed cases.

There have been no more deaths reported and the toll remains at 21.

There is still just one person in hospital with the coronavirus – they are recovering in Middlemore Hospital.

One more person recovered overnight, meaning 1456 people – or 97 percent of those who caught the virus – have now recovered.

The ministry said another 30,000 New Zealanders had signed up for the NZ Covid Tracer App, which meant there were now a total of 354,000 registrations.

Two Auckland pubs closed for breaching restrictions

Two pubs in Auckland were shut down last night, for failing to comply with restrictions under alert level two.

Police said in general they were pleased with the behaviour of people at licensed premises over the weekend.

But Assistant Commissioner Scott Fraser said one establishment in the Auckland City District and one in Counties Manukau were not complying and did not respond to education or encouragement, so were closed for the night.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP – don’t show up at a medical centre

Govt scraps consents for some home improvements

The government is removing the requirement for consents for low-risk building work like sleep-outs, sheds and car ports in an effort to let the construction sector fire up faster on larger projects and assist the Covid-19 recovery.

Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa.

Jenny Salesa Photo: RNZ / John Gerritson

The exemptions to the building work is expected to save homeowners $18 million a year, although the work must still meet the Building Code.

They are expected to come into effect at the end of August after changes to the Building Act have been made.

Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa said the changes would mean councils could focus on higher-risk building work, boosting the building and construction sector.

“Single-storey detached buildings up to 30 square metres – such as sleep-outs, sheds and greenhouses; carports; awnings; water storage bladders and others will now not require a Council-approved building consent, which will result in 9000 fewer consents to process a year.”

Salesa said work must still have oversight from licensed building practitioners and in some cases, engineers.

Travel agents plead for patience as workload mounts

The Travel Agents Association says workers are being unfairly blamed as cancellations and changed bookings pile up.

Chief executive Andrew Olsen said their workload was more time intensive during the Covid-19 pandemic and asked for people’s patience when dealing with travel agents.

“The hundreds of thousands of impacted bookings – and this would just be a notional guide, they’re probably being handled four to five times as much as they normally would be under normal circumstances,” he said.

“If you try to put that into a professional service kind of framework, that’s a lot of handling.”

Most funds were transferred to the airline, hotel, cruise or tour company, not the agent, he said.

That meant the suppliers determine if a credit or refund is issued and can cause delays.

Avatar filming to resume in NZ

The producer of the Avatar sci-fi movie sequels, Jon Landau, said he has no qualms coming back to New Zealand during the Covid-19 recovery phase.

Director James Cameron is currently working on a number of sequels to the original film, the first of which is currently expected to arrive in December 2021.

While VFX teams from Weta Digital and Lightstorm were able to work from home as much as possible, live-action filming came to a halt in March because of the pandemic.

But producer Jon Landau is due back in Wellington next week and has praised the way the New Zealand handled the crisis.

“We feel very comfortable because of the actions of your government and also the responsibility the people took to really curb the virus there.”

A small crew will return to the country with Landau and they will go into quarantine for two weeks.

Avatar Year : 2009 USADirector : James CameronSam Worthington, Zoe SaldanaMovie poster (Fr)

Photo: Archives du 7e Art/DR

Business NZ says more jobs at risk

The Business NZ network says more jobs are at risk unless the government comes up with conditions under which businesses can move to alert level one.

Business NZ chief executive Kirk Hope said low levels of demand and customer activity under the current restrictions were increasing the risk of job losses.

“Now businesses are open it’s ensuring they have sufficient demand to continue to employ people,” he said.

The network is calling for an urgent timeline and clarity over what the conditions will be at alert level one so businesses know what will be expected of them.

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