There are three new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced on Thursday. There have been no additional virus-related deaths.
One of the three cases is linked to an existing case, while the other two remain under investigation. The Ministry of Health has reclassified what was previously deemed a probable case as "not a case", Dr Bloomfield confirmed.
The overall total of combined and probable cases is now 1476 - 1129 are confirmed and 347 are probable.
Eighty-four percent, or 1241, of New Zealand's COVID-19 cases have now recovered.
There are still 16 significant clusters.
As of Thursday, there are seven people hospitalised around the country, although none are in the ICU.
On Wednesday, 5867 tests were performed, bringing the nationwide test total to 134,570.
Dr Bloomfield acknowledged that the Section 70 notice, an amended Health Act order, has been published and is available to view on the ministry's website.
"The new order amends the previous one to specify the following: People can travel to care for their pets and other animals; .... veterinary services are permitted to be contact services, so you can go into the premises to drop off pets or other animals that require care; and hunting of game birds for recreation purposes is not permitted at alert level 3, so people cannot go duck shooting and the like," Dr Bloomfield explained.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that under alert level 3, which was implemented officially at 11:59pm on Monday, roughly 400,000 New Zealanders have been able to get back to work. As a result, 75 percent of New Zealand's economy is now operating.
"Extra activity comes with extra responsibility, so our team of 5 million needs to keep up the amazing effort," Ardern said.
As of 5:30pm on Wednesday, there have been 1035 complaints made to police regarding breaches of level 3 protocol. Ardern confirmed that 104 of these will be followed up by agencies, including the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, NZ Police and Worksafe, depending on the nature of the breach. Most complaints are to do with a lack of social distancing, safe operating practices for cafes, business breaches by patrons or staff, recreational activities and in-home gatherings.
The All of Government response team compliance centre is also monitoring the news, so any compliance issues being reported in New Zealand's media can be actively followed up on by the relevant agencies.
Under level 3, there have been 185 breaches of the Health Acts, an increase of 81 in the last 24 hours; 46 people have been prosecuted, an increase of 21 in 24 hours; 119 warnings have been issued, an increase of 48; and 20 youth referrals have been made, an increase of eight. Officers are still actively patrolling communities to ensure compliance, with 1400 police patrols being undertaken in the last two days.
"We are taking enforcement very seriously... we are concerned whether standards are being maintained, but I do expect a high standard," Ardern said, in response to a question about Government concerns over business compliance under alert level 3.
"[Operating safely] is a level of responsibility and trust we are placing on those [businesses], but we will enforce the rules.
"It is also vital we stay at home if there's no reason to be outdoors... the last thing we can afford is a spike in cases."
As of Thursday, around 2 percent of students from Years 1 to 10 are attending school, with just 4 percent attendance at early childhood centres (ECEs).
"This is a strong indication of the caution New Zealanders are taking at level 3," Ardern said.
Ardern announced that Parliament will pass, under urgency, a significant package of tax changes to provide further cash flow to support small businesses. The package will release more than $3 billion through the tax system to help small and medium-sized enterprises cope with the economic impacts of COVID-19.
The Prime Minister also provided a breakdown of the wage subsidies being paid to smaller firms. More than $1.25 billion has been paid to about 188,000 sole traders; $2.47 billion has gone to 160,000 small businesses that employ between one and 19 staff; and almost 8900 medium-sized enterprises of up to 99 staff have been paid $1.3 billion.
As in other briefings, Ardern continued to reiterate the importance of adhering to alert level protocol, staying at home when possible and maintaining physical distancing in order to keep progressing.
"We have to maintain our vigilance and constantly ensure we are still following those rules... we need to continue our testing, border controls and isolation to give us that assurance... this is going to be with us for a long time and we'll have to keep winning battles every step of the way," she said.
Ardern was not able to give a clear answer on when the two-metre social distancing rule would be relaxed in public spaces, such as cafes and restaurants, but noted that physical distancing under alert level 2 would still be imperative to contact tracing and lessening the spread of any future outbreaks.
The Prime Minister also acknowledged "Kiwi ingenuity" in the form of the new website, thankyouhealthcare.co.nz, that provides discounts and offers for New Zealand's healthcare workers on the front line of the crisis.