Here's an important Covid-19 update:
Georgia Forrester and George Block
A Kmart and a vape store in Auckland are the latest locations linked to the movements of a person who has tested positive for Covid-19.
The owner of the vape store, Dark Vapes, in East Tamaki, said the closure of his shop on Wednesday for deep cleaning, followed by his mandatory self-isolation, would be tough for his small business.
Three new community cases of Covid-19 in south Auckland were announced on Tuesday.
The first was a student at Papatoetoe High School, which the Ministry of Health announced earlier in the day. Two other cases – the student’s siblings, who are a teenager and an infant – were confirmed on Tuesday evening.
Kmart in Botany, in east Auckland, and Dark Vapes are among the places of interest visited by one of the cases, with further locations expected to be released on Wednesday.
The teenager reported as a new case on Tuesday night works at Kmart Botany.
They were at work on Friday, February 19 and Saturday, February 20, between 3.30pm and 10.30pm.
The store was closed on Tuesday night, and a thorough sanitisation of the store was being carried out, a Kmart spokesperson said.
Thirty-one Kmart staff have been identified as close contacts and are self-isolating, the ministry said.
Any members of the public who visited Kmart Botany at the times the student was working is considered a casual plus contact, and must self-isolate at home immediately.
Casual plus contacts are those who would have been considered casual contacts, but have been upgraded due to the risk of the more transmissible strains of the virus.
“If you are a casual plus contact, you are advised to immediately isolate at home and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on isolation time frames and testing requirements,” the ministry said.
One of the two high school students announced as new cases on Tuesday also twice visited Dark Vapes in East Tamaki, on Friday and Saturday.
The owner, who did not want to be named, said the store would be closed on Wednesday for deep cleaning, and he would isolate at home for 14-days, as per Ministry of Health advice.
“It's going to be tough for the business.”
He said the store would be able to reopen after cleaning as another staff member was available to help run it.
The owner did not know the identity of the case who visited.
A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said she was not sure which of the cases visited the store.
The visits to the vape store took place on Friday, February 19 between 2.30pm and 4pm, and also Saturday, February 20, between 7pm and 8.30pm.
People who visited the store during these times are considered to be casual-plus contacts.
More locations are expected to be released by the ministry on its website.
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A facelift is set to roll out on Queen St, in Auckland's CBD.
Wide boardwalks, seating and native plants in planter boxes will soon replace the plastic sticks and temporary footpaths on Queen St between Customs St and Shortland St.
Auckland Council has unveiled plans to remove emergency Covid-19 works in the area and create a pocket park on the corner of Queen St and Fort St.
Auckland mayor Phil Goff said Queen St was due for an upgrade.
“We want the street to be more people-friendly and attractive, and to become a place to visit, rather than just pass through,” he said.
“Last year, temporary measures were put in place by Auckland Transport to allow physical distancing during the pandemic. It’s now time for the yellow markers, stone blocks and painted asphalt to be replaced. "
Extended decking pavements, shrubs in proper planter boxes and street furniture will help change the look and feel of the area, Goff said.
These measures would be trialed before permanent changes were made following feedback from businesses, shoppers, visitors and residents, he said.
“Queen Street has taken a hit from COVID-19, with the loss of tourists, cruise ships and international students."
Goff said the council, businesses and residents needed to work together to help the area recover from Covid-19 and become a vibrant place to shop.
The upgrade will enhance other transformations including the refurbishment of the Chief Post Office, the creation of Te Komititanga, the new public space outside Commercial Bay, and Te Wananga, the new space being built over the water by the ferry building, he said.
Meanwhile, Aucklanders are being invited to give their feedback on a proposal to create bus lanes on sections of Queen St.
The changes are touted to improve reliability as more buses use the street during the next phase of the City Rail Link construction.
What do you think of the improvements to Queen St?
Which changes would you like to see there?
*Please put NFP if you do not want your comments used by Stuff.
People have until May 7 to have their say on the changes at:
Auckland Transport and NZ Bus on Friday unveiled the new electric fleet for the CityLINK bus service.
Mayor Phill Goff said the 12 new buses would reduce carbon emissions and help Auckland work towards meeting its climate change goals.
The electric fleet would be quieter than the former diesel models.
“Electrifying Auckland’s CityLINK buses helps improve air quality by reducing pollution from black carbon and nitrogen oxide emitted by diesel vehicles,” he said.
“Black carbon damages health and is at higher levels in Queen St than in any other New Zealand city and many other cities in Europe and North America."
Goff said the launch was another step towards electrifying the rest of Auckland's bus fleet.
When completed, this would stop about 93,000 tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere each year compared to 2019 emissions levels.
“We are working with central government towards bringing forward the transition to a fully electric bus fleet, and we’re looking to halt the purchase of new diesel buses from July this year as part of our commitment to a carbon-free city.”