Coronavirus: What alert level 2 will mean for Kiwis' bubbles

The rules for COVID-19 alert level 2 have been revealed and for many, it could mean reuniting with people you haven't seen for weeks.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said all businesses can restart at level 2 with a maximum gathering limit of 100 people.

Ardern also revealed people will no longer have to stick to their bubbles.

"You can begin seeing family and friends again but we do want you to hang on to the same principles that we are generally using in hospitality - issues around space and hygiene and contact tracing," she told reporters.

"If we have large-scale events held in people's homes then all of that becomes harder. That is why, at alert level 2, we are saying you can have friends and family over to your home but keep the numbers small."

Ardern said there would be more specific guidance in the coming days.

People will also be able to go shopping and travel domestically under alert level 2 but still must follow public health guidance.

While some of the stringent rules of level 3 will ease, level 2 means the risk of community transmission remains despite the disease being contained - which is why strict hygiene, physical distancing, and contact tracing measures must remain.

But it's good news for cafes, bars, and restaurants that can reopen, as can retail stores, as long as they follow public health guidance concerning physical distancing and contact tracing.

"Remember your social distancing," Ardern said. "Remember the same practices apply wherever you go in the country."

Schools will open for all students under alert level 2 and the Government says appropriate measures will be in place at all facilities.

Anyone who can work from home is still encouraged to do so but people can return to offices again by applying strict hygiene, physical distancing, and contract tracing measures.

Ardern said a move to alert level 2 will mean a lot to the likes of the tourism industry - which has been grappling with closed borders and no domestic travel.

"I know a lot of people are keen to support you," she said.

Under alert level 3, Kiwis are only permitted to interact with the people they live with but exceptions have been made. When New Zealand moved out of alert level 4, people were permitted to extend their bubbles slightly to include a relative or loved one who lives alone, for example.

An announcement about when the country can expect to enter alert level 2 is expected on Monday.

Click here for full details of the alert level 2 rules.