Summary A pathway to lifting the roadblocks encircling Auckland and to reopening the city that has been in lockdown for nine weeks will be unveiled today. 

Big announcement Vaccine passports, shorter MIQ stays for double vaccinated travellers, and domestic travel for double-jabbed Aucklanders will be unveiled today. Home isolation pilots, a new traffic light system to manage outbreaks and a way for up to 20,000 people to return home will also be topics for today’s announcement at 10am. While prime minister Jacinda Ardern has warned that borders surrounding Auckland and much of the Waikato may not be lifted in time for Christmas, today’s announcement is likely to map out a pathway to lifting restrictions within borders and a wider framework to deal with the highly infectious delta variant.

Freedom day Melbourne emerged from its three-month lockdown overnight, with the reopening at midnight greeted by cheering, screaming and whistles akin to New Year's Eve. Hair salons, pubs and restaurants flung open their doors to celebrate the milestone. The city has reached its target of 70% of people aged over 16 fully vaccinated. The reopening comes just days before the Melbourne Cup on Nov 2, where 10,000 people will be allowed to party.

Glyphosate examination Submissions are due by today on the use of weed killer glyphosate in NZ to build the Environmental Protection Authority’s knowledge, ahead of any potential regulatory changes. The weed killer is credited with underpinning the expansion of NZ’s agricultural and horticultural sector since it was invented and sold as Roundup by Monsanto, as it allows weed control without killing crops. At the same time, other countries are cracking down on it due to concerns about its associations with cancer. Japan has threatened to ban NZ honey due to traces of the weedkiller being found in the product.

Drills restart Dentists and physiotherapists are among about 2,000 allied health professionals reopening for business in Auckland today. The relaxation on rules follows a 13,000-strong petition and lobbying, to prevent conditions from worsening to the point of hospitalisation.

High risk period Many small businesses reliant on festive period earnings are entering the highest risk period for failure, a senior economist has warned. BNZ head of research Stephen Toplis said a significant number of small businesses were reliant on the festive period and fourth quarter activity for a sizeable amount of their revenue. Business failures, if they happened, would likely take place early next year. “We are now entering the point of highest risk for these businesses.” 

Taps opened Auckland’s water restrictions are to be lifted this weekend after a wet winter and spring, and water-saving measures adopted by the city. Dams are now at 93% capacity and are still rising by 0.2% per day.

Jetpacks for sale Two NZ-invented jetpacks, and the accompanying IP, servers and documentation will be sold on Trade Me next month after the company that owns them went into receivership. The Martin Jetpack can fly for nearly an hour, up to one kilometre high and at speeds up to 74km/h. Sylarc Asset Realisation director Sam Brown said he hoped a NZ company would purchase the assets to breathe new life into the project, which stalled before production could be achieved. 

Show business Luring a French screen icon to NZ to shoot a movie took a personal visit to Paris with three bottles of exquisite NZ gin. The story of how Charlotte Rampling came to star in the new NZ-made film Juniper is almost as good as the movie itself.

Construction woes The increasing scarcity and expense of a bag of nails can be blamed not just on the pandemic causing supply chain delays and shortages, but also on China’s energy shortages and efforts to become greener. Empty shelves at building supplies retailers are causing construction delays and greater reliance on NZ-manufactured building products. 

Name change Beset by foes on all sides and traitors from within, Facebook’s billionaire ruler Mark Zuckerberg is poised to rename his kingdom, putting distance between the tainted social media platform and the empire’s broadening ambit. The Verge got the scoop this week from an anonymous but well-informed insider. It already had a lead from the Zuck earlier this year when he told the tech news site Facebook will change over the next few years from being seen as a social media company to a metaverse company. 

Takeoff stymied The South Island’s one-way bubble with Australia has not taken off due to Australia’s quarantine regulations. Air NZ’s staff do not meet the requirements as they are mostly based in Auckland and are unable to base themselves in the South Island for 14 days. Air NZ says only quarantine flights are operating.

Healthcare priority The World Health Organisation (WHO) says covid has killed up to 180,000 healthcare workers around the world since January 2020. The WHO has urged healthcare workers to be first in line for vaccinations. 

Google cut Google says it will lower its cut of fees to 15% from 30% for apps for devices running its Android software. The move is a concession to regulatory pressure challenging the company’s overcharging of developers. 

Markets update Rising covid infections and mining company weaknesses pulled London’s blue chip FTSE 100 index down 0.5%, with mining companies alone down  3.5% Mining shares dropped on fears that the looming collapse of Chinese property giant Evergrande will impact on the resource-hungry nation’s economy. Europe’s Stoxx 600 fell 0.8%. In the US, midway through trading the Dow Jones was down 0.36%, and the S&P 500 was down very slightly 0.09%. Contrary to yesterday, the NASDAQ rose 0.20%. Oil, gold, copper and silver were all down, following weeks of dramatic rises.