Epidemiologist says New Zealand isn't ready for COVID-19 alert level 2

Epidemiologists are concerned New Zealand is struggling to contain COVID-19 and are worried the country may move to alert level 2 next week.

The Government will announce the decision on Monday, but the Prime Minister says to minimise the risk it may not all be in one go.

"If reducing risks means taking several steps into level two instead of one big one that may be what happens," Jacinda Ardern said.

So while Kiwis will be able to wine and dine, travel, and get a haircut when the alert level decreases, other activities will come back in phases.

Schools will be opening on a Monday - not midweek - and those returning to sports might only be able to train first, while competing comes later.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says it's important Kiwis don't hurry back.

"My advice to sporting clubs is don't rush into it," he said.

"Just as for the professionals this means needing to prepare for physical distancing and hygiene." 

Epidemiologist Michael Baker agrees getting back to 'normal' needs to take time.

"Larger gatherings up to 100 people indoors particularly with alcohol involved, it's easy to go back, it's tempting, but we just need to hold back."

Baker is warning New Zealand is still struggling to contain COVID-19 and is asking for face masks to become compulsory, especially when travelling on public transport.

"We know the evidence base isn't perfect but in the face of this crisis I do think we need this extra line of defence."

Instead of one giant leap back into level 2, it may instead mean New Zealand is going to take small steps.