'Emotions are high': Northland Covid case closes businesses as far as Waikato

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 25 Jan 2021, 9:26AM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

'Emotions are high': Northland Covid case closes businesses as far as Waikato

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 25 Jan 2021, 9:26AM

Businesses and attractions are closed from Waikato to Northland after discovering they are at the centre of a new Covid scare that emerged north of Auckland yesterday.

Owners of affected commercial and public premises from Parakai to Whangarei have issued notices to customers on Facebook pages saying how devastated they are at the turn of events with many not intending to open until Thursday at the earliest.

Even one tourist attraction in the Waikato, the Te Awamutu Space Centre, has also temporarily closed this week after its manager was exposed to the infection during a visit to Northland's famous Kauri Museum.

Many owners have shared with customers their distress over the unexpected closures that will see them test, isolate and deep clean premises this week.

"I'm sure emotions are high and everyone is feeling a little sh*t right now but let's keep a glimmer of positiveness and get through this," wrote Bream Bay Butchers on their Facebook.

The 56-year-old Northland woman who has tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving managed isolation on January 13 visited a raft of stores across northwest Auckland and Northland including grocers, specialist food stores, electrical stores, cafes, womenswear and homeware stores and a pharmacy.

Cars start to arrive at a Whangarei Covid-19 testing centre soon after it opened yesterday afternoon. Photo / Adam Pearse

The butchery, where the woman visited on January 16, said both its Ruakaka and Tikipunga Fresh Food stores in Whangarei would be closed until further notice.

"We do a deep cleanse every night in the shop but both of our shops will be closed until further notice - we are following the government's guidelines strictly and will keep you informed with news as we know."

The owner of South Head General store in Parakai was reeling from the shock news that the infected woman spent time in his store last week.

According to the contact tracer app she was in the store on January 19, arriving at 2.44pm and leaving at 3.49pm.

In a message to customers he said while he had been not been contacted by the Ministry of Health everyone who had been in his store needed to stay home and get tested.

"Please those that have visited our shop, please self isolate until we can confirm.

"We are absolutely devastated and simply can't come to terms with this until we had more information."

The Gumdiggers Cafe at Matakohe was also closed for deep cleaning with customers being told to stay home and get tested after the woman stopped there for a two hour lunch on January 18.

On Facebook the owner said the cafe would be closed until Thursday to ensure staff were well and the shop deep cleaned.

"Our current advice is that although there is a low risk of exposure, out of an abundance of caution, we are asking individuals to stay at home and get a test if they visited these locations during the relevant times and call Healthline.

"You will need to continue to stay at home until you receive a negative test result back."

Parau Bay Tavern said on Facebook it had closed its premises as soon as it was contacted by health officials.

"We are following all guidelines set out by the Ministry of Health and we hope to be back serving our amazing community as soon as possible," said the publican.

Among some of the local attractions the woman visited the Kauri Museum announced it would be closed for the next three days to ensure all staff were well and for a deep clean of the premises.

The woman had spent four hours from 11.24am on January 18 at the popular history attraction.

"Our current advice is that although there is a low risk of exposure, out of an abundance of caution, we are asking individuals to stay at home and get a test if they visited these locations during the relevant times and call Healthline. You will need to continue to stay at home until you receive a negative test result back."

Last night the Te Awamutu Space Centre announced its manager Dave Owen had also been at the museum and exposed to Covid.

"He was on holiday with the family and visited the Kauri Museum at the same time as the latest case. He has no symptoms so we're hopeful that he doesn't have it, but until he gets the test results and is cleared to leave isolation, the Space Centre is closed. We're very sorry for the inconvenience," it posted on Facebook.

Eutopia Cafe on SH1 at Kaiwaka has also temporarily shut its doors after the woman was in store between 8.55am and 10.55am.

"If you visited the cafe on Monday please get tested and follow the guidelines," said the owners.

They said the cafe and art gallery would be closed for a few days so everyone could get tested, isolate and clean the premises but still managed a word of praise for the infected woman.

"Thanks to our guest for using the tracing app, we all need to do our bit to keep this virus at bay."

Whangarei fireplace company Flaming Fires said they would be able to open tomorrow thanks to a staff member who had been on holiday since January 13.

The infected woman was in the Commerce St store on January 15.

"Unfortunately our Whangarei store is one of the stores visited by the current probable Covid case on Friday the 15th so most of our team will be working from home until further notice," the store posted on Facebook.

"However one of our staff members were away on holiday from Wednesday the 13th, returning tomorrow so our shop will still be open but onsite services will be unavailable until further notice."

The manager said due to recent renovations the store was thoroughly cleaned on the 16th, and it would be cleaned again tomorrow.

The company's Mangawhai store had not been affected.