Coronavirus: The new bubble and what it means for New Zealand

New rules for life at Level 3 of COVID-19 alert have been revealed and one of them could change who is in your "bubble".

On Thursday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said when the country does move into Level 3 the main rules remain the same - stay home and save lives.

However your bubble - the number of people with whom you can safely interact with daily - can grow slightly larger.

"If you have a caregiver you need in your life, children in shared care, a defacto partner who is caring for others or you are a single person who wants a companion - for example a sibling - then you may extend your bubble a little bit," said Ardern.

"Keep it exclusive though and keep it small."

Bubbles can be extended to include close family members, caregivers or those who are isolated, but the key to containment is to keep the people exclusive.

If a relative or loved one lives locally, and is currently alone you can extend your bubble to include them. If you are returning to work and need to establish child care or other care arrangements for those already in your bubble, a care provider can join your bubble.

You must only include people who will keep you and themselves safe and well. If a member of your bubble feels unwell then they must isolate themselves immediately.

Even if your bubble extends, similar rules about going outside apply. People must only leave their homes if they are going to the supermarket, the doctor, work, school or exercising. 

People can also travel domestically to rejoin a bubble - but only once and in one direction.

So if you live in Wellington but were in Auckland when the lockdown started, under Level 3 restrictions you can return. But once you're back you need to stay in place. 

While some of the stringent rules of Level 4 will ease in Level 3 life will not go back to normal.

Cafes, bars and restaurants will remain closed, as will retail stores. The amount of face-to-face interaction these venues encourage is too much of a risk.

However much to the relief of many Kiwis takeaways and online shopping will return.

"The more we can limit the new people everyone is exposed to the better," said Ardern.

Schools will open up to Year 10 but attendance is voluntary and distance learning is encouraged.

Anyone who can work from home is encouraged to do so and people are urged to remain home to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Ardern said it is better to remain under strict supervision than it is to relax too soon and risk backsliding into an outbreak.

"The last thing we want to do when moving levels is give away the games we have won in lockdown."

An announcement on whether the country will enter Alert Level 3 is expected on Monday.

Full details of level 3 rules here