Christel Yardley / Tips
The Auckland-Waikato demarcation line takes on added significance from Wednesday.
Auckland and Waikato’s economic rebound in the face of Covid rests on an invisible line dividing the two regions.
Waikato goes to Alert Level Three on Wednesday while its neighbor to the north is expected to live with Level 4 restrictions for two more weeks.
Police checkpoints between the two regions will be set up from 11 p.m. Tuesday to help keep the alert level zones separate. Those crossing the border will be asked to provide proof of essential travel.
Don Good, chief executive of the Waikato Chamber of Commerce, said it was vital that the integrity of the regional border be protected.
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“This is crucial because companies want to go to Alert Level 2 or better,” Good said.
“If Waikato can stay safe from Covid cases, it also helps Auckland get out of the level 4 lockdown faster and move up to levels three and two. The sooner the whole country returns to what we call normalcy, the better for business. “
Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga form what politicians and business leaders call “the golden triangle,” a key area for economic activity and growth.
Good said the Auckland-Waikato rift can only be a short-term measure, with many businesses relying on a strong connection between the two regions. The Delta community epidemic underscores the importance of getting people vaccinated.
“There are so many supply chains in Auckland businesses that Waikato businesses depend on and there are Auckland markets that Waikato businesses want to sell to. It’s a very symbiotic relationship.
Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said overseas experience indicates it is difficult to contain the Delta variant within limits.
To keep Waikato Covid-free, everyone has to do the right thing, she said.
“We’re thinking of Auckland… but if Covid spreads to the rest of the country, that’s going to put the brakes on Auckland as well,” Southgate said.
“Ultimately, this is one of the biggest threats to humans for a long, long time, and we shouldn’t take it lightly.”