It’s Phase Three Friday! Now what?

by | Feb 25, 2022 | News

At midnight last night the country moved into Phase 3 of the government’s Omicron response. TGIF. But what does that mean?

According to Hospitality NZ CEO Julie White it’s good news for the hospitality industry, as it will allow staff to keep working, and customers enjoy getting out. Until today, “the definition of a close contact and a week-long isolation period is keeping mounting numbers of staff and customers unnecessarily at home.”

White says while a Phase shift is welcome, it is only one of the tools for recovery. Another tool is financial support to get through the Omicron wave, and the narrow eligibility of the package announced on Monday still needs to be fixed.

“After our urgent objections, we are now cautiously optimistic that the Government did not intend to restrict the eligibility so tightly and will fix it by the time applications open this Monday,” she says. The eligibility was affected by missing a critical phrase.

What does Phase 3 mean?

The Restaurant Association made this handy checklist for hospo operators:

  • Locations of interest are not published in Phase 3.
  • Rapid antigen tests (RAT) becomes the key method for diagnosis of Covid-19
    • positive test results do not need to be confirmed with a PCR unless advised
  • Majority of positive cases are self-management
  • Anyone with symptoms must isolate and get a test
  • Positive cases n
    • need to isolate for 10 days
    • self-release after 10 days (you do not need a negative test)
  • Positive cases will be asked to self-notify close contacts
    • businesses will now more likely be contacted directly by their employee that they are positive / a close contact, rather than by public health
  • Close contacts (Household contacts)
    • Household contacts – need to isolate until the positive case completes 10 days (with test on day three and day ten).
      • If you are a Household Contact and you test positive, you will need to isolate for 10 days.
    • Other close contacts – not required to self-isolate, monitor symptoms and get tested if symptomatic

More detail on Phase Three:

Testing

You should only get a COVID-19 test if: you have symptoms, or, you are a Household Contact

  • Rapid antigen tests (RAT) becomes the key method for diagnosis of Covid-19
  • Symptomatic people  may use a RAT for diagnosis  – positive test results do not need to be confirmed with a PCR unless advised
  • RATs will be available at a variety of locations, depending on reason for testing, including Community Testing Centres / Pick up points, GPs, pharmacies, community providers or workplaces.

 

Case investigation and contact tracing

  • Locations of interest will not be published during Phase 3.
  • There will be self-service tools available for people to provide information for contact tracing and case investigation. People who test positive will be supported to notify their Close Contacts.
  • Cases will be:
    • identified by positive PCR or RATs, or if they have symptoms
    • notified by text message and sent a link to complete the COVID-19 Contact Tracing form. This online self-investigation tool will focus on very high-risk exposures to narrow the numbers of contacts identified.
  • Contacts will:
    • only be traced and required to isolate if they are a high-risk contact (household)
    • be contacted automatically through the online self-investigation tool, with the option for people who test positive to notify their contacts themselves
    • there will be limited use of push notifications, locations of interest or Bluetooth tracing.

 

Isolation and quarantine

  • Cases: Isolate for 10 days (self-release after 10 days, no need for a negative test)
  • Household contacts of a Case: Isolate until Case completes 10 days. Test Day 3 and Day 10 of the case’s isolation, or if symptomatic
  • Other Close contacts: No requirement to isolate. Self-monitor for 10 days and test if symptomatic

About the Author

Vincent Heeringa

Vincent Heeringa is a communications strategist, writer, marketer and PR expert specialising in tech, investment, and sustainability. He was co-founder of Idealog, Stoppress and Good magazines and helped establish the Science Media Centre. He is the host of a podcast ‘This Climate Business’, co-founder of The Feed.co.nz, and a trustee of the Adventure Specialties Trust. And there's nothing he loves more than a good story. vincentheeringa.com

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