Coronavirus: Parties, social events limited to 10 people under alert level 2

Gatherings will be limited to 10 people at home and in social settings under alert level 2, the Prime Minister has revealed.

It comes as Jacinda Ardern announced New Zealand will move to level 2 on Thursday and many businesses and restaurants can reopen - but bars will have to wait an extra week.

Ardern says any gathering designed for "mixing and mingling" won't be allowed to happen for groups larger than 10. This includes parties, big social events and other similar types of gatherings.

"Gatherings at home need to be capped at 10. Church and religious events, weddings, funerals, stag dos are all limited to 10 for now," she said during a press conference on Monday.

Cinemas, retail stores, playgrounds, gyms and shopping malls can reopen on Thursday as long as physical distancing and strict hygiene measures are practiced, and bars are allowed to open on May 21 but customers must be seated while there.

Ardern says if people want to go to a restaurant or bar, these venues won't be allowed to take bookings for groups larger than 10 people.

Her reasoning for capping gatherings at 10 is because it's a much easier number to contain and conduct contact tracing if an outbreak occurs.

"[It's] much less likely that, if something goes wrong, the whole country will have to experience more restrictions."

She says there will still be gatherings in public that are larger than 10 in total - such as at a movie theatre, at a restaurant or while watching a sports game - but these people will be spaced out and seated.

"I know that many New Zealanders are looking forward to catching up with friends and family, and from this Thursday you can. But for now, as I've said, it just needs to be small. This is a transition out of our bubbles."

But even though there's a limit on the number of people you can have gather at your home, Ardern says those who live with more than 10 people don't need to worry about forcing people to move out to meet these requirements.

"I should add on a particular note, because I have been asked this a few times, if you have a family that is larger than 10, we're not suggesting that you throw anyone out of the house. We are being pragmatic, but we just don't want you to have a large gathering yet."

Cabinet will review the decision in two weeks' time. Ardern says if the number of cases is still looking promising, gatherings of larger sizes will be permitted. 

"We have done what we can to prioritise opening up businesses, but just alter the way that we work within them for the next wee while. This strikes a balance between getting the economy moving, but also making sure we have got the next stage right."

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