Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Dame Jenny Gibbs stands by level 4 driveway drinks

A high-profile philanthropist says she invited five people to her house on separate occasions for drinks on her driveway and is adamant her actions did not breach level 4 lockdown restrictions.

Arts patron Dame Jenny Gibbs said she held three separate socially distanced meetings in her carport on swanky Paritai Drive in Ōrākei.

This comes in the wake of well-off Aucklanders absconding to the South Island – causing frustration among many people who say those with the most privilege are able to flout rules.

But Dame Jenny told the Herald while people had visited her property on several occasions, she believed she had followed all restrictions carefully.

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Her daughter, who lives locally, had visited on her birthday and sat in the carport. Dame Jenny sat by the front door, 4 metres away, and they each had a glass of wine which was”very socially distanced”, she said.

On another day the deputy director and director of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Kirsten Lacy and Tom Irvine – who share a bubble – had also popped over for a glass of wine in the carport.

On a third occasion she made coffee and left it in the carport for two friends who shared a bubble – again, they had spoken but at a distance.

The carport opened onto the road as well as onto the property, and was visible from the front door.

The 81-year-old believed the visits were acceptable under level 4 rules.

“I think so because we’re well apart and outside … We were very socially distanced,” she said.

“There are people out and about and around the place all the time. Outside and staying several metres apart. I mean I take my dogs for a walk twice a day, and there’s hordes of people around and we stop and chat sometimes.”

She was not aware of anyone reporting the matter but confirmed two officers visited her property this afternoon to check the arrangement, and had told her it was within the rules.

“I can show them where the chair is way out in my carport, that’s miles away from where I am at the front,” she said.

“I do not believe that sitting four metres apart outside is breaching any rules. I see people much closer than that on the [Okahu Bay] beach down the road.”

People were having “driveway drinks” all over Auckland, she said.

But if she were proven to have broken any rules, “I’d be very grateful if you’d let me know … in future I wouldn’t do it.”

The Herald asked police whether the visits were in breach of level 4 restrictions.

A spokeswoman said: “As it says on the Unite Against Covid-19 website, at alert level 4 people must legally stay in their household bubble.”

A spokeswoman for the art gallery told the Herald Lacy and Irvine, along with their respective households, were part of one bubble.

On September 15 the pair had travelled – within their bubble – to deliver a food parcel to a family in Ōrākei, she said.

“As part of the same journey and still within the same area, birthday flowers were delivered to Dame Jenny Gibbs, a member of the Gallery’s Advisory Committee.

“The three – Kirsten and Tom in their bubble, and Dame Jenny in her bubble – remained socially distanced.”

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