Passengers departing from Auckland must put on masks starting today, says Air New Zealand. The move comes after Auckland reinstates a Level 3 COVID-19 Alert.
Masks are mandatory for customers on flights out of Auckland. According to an official statement by the flag carrier,
“Customers are welcome to bring their own masks, or these will be provided by the airline on board.”
As for other domestic routes, wearing masks is strongly recommended but not compulsory at this time. Initially, the alert will last until Friday. This is subject to change contingent on the appearance of new cases in the city.
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Air NZ acts quickly
Air New Zealand implemented safety procedures overnight, after the Prime Minister’s announcement on Tuesday night regarding Auckland’s increased restrictions.
As such, all front-of-house employees and domestic cabin crew are required to put on masks and gloves starting today. Pilots must also wear masks when interacting with customers or passing through the terminal.
The carrier’s Auckland lounges and valet parking are no longer operational. The facilities closed on Wednesday at noon. According to Newshub, Air NZ CEO Greg Foran stated,
“We’d appreciate it if customers could exercise patience as everyone adjusts to the change in alert levels. We’d also advise allowing a little more time to navigate through the airport, as social distancing requirements will make things a little slower. Customers should not travel if they are unwell or have COVID-19 symptoms – flights can be changed free of charge if needed.”
Inflight, food and beverage services are no longer operational. This suspension goes for all domestic flights, in a bid to minimize contact between passengers and crew on board. As well as this, Air NZ’s inflight magazine will also be removed from seat pockets.
The new rules showcase how the flag carrier is regressing. In June, Air NZ was able to scrap all social distancing onboard its flights, due to Aotearoa’s stable environment at the time.
Further, New Zealand had its international flight services frozen up till August 9th, due to overwhelmed quarantine facilities. With New Zealand shifting gears and increasing restrictions, it is no surprise if international flights continue to be non-operational for the time being.
102-day streak broken on Tuesday
On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden revealed four new coronavirus cases in Auckland. A family of four with no recent travel history had tested positive. Reuters reported that the source of the infection is currently unknown.
This came as a shock, since New Zealand had powered through 102 days without reporting any infections.
Breaking: at 12 noon tomorrow, Auckland will go into level 3 lockdown for three days – until midnight Friday, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
— Jason Walls (@Jasonwalls92) August 11, 2020
Following the outbreak of cases, Auckland shifted to level three restrictions at noon on Wednesday. Residents of Auckland can only leave their homes for essential reasons.
Other New Zealand states are on a level two alert. This translates to strict social distancing measures, and a limit of 100 people for gatherings.
Jetstar NZ follows suit
Low-cost carrier Jetstar has also made masks mandatory for all passengers flying out of the infected city. Additionally, Newshub reveals that Jetstar may resort to canceling a select number of flights. Affected customers will receive a notification directly from the airline.
Specifically, traveling with Jetstar is only permissible for Auckland residents returning to the city, or those flying out of Auckland to go home.
The news is a massive damper as Jetstar had only recently restarted flying domestically in New Zealand. After a three-month flight suspension, Jetstar NZ resumed services on July 1st to five local destinations, including Auckland.
What are your thoughts on making masks mandatory for Auckland flights? Are you flying with Air NZ soon? Let us know in the comments.