Coronavirus: Live updates on New Zealand's COVID-19 outbreak - Monday, August 17

There are nine new cases of COVID-19 in the community, Dr Bloomfield announced on Monday. There are no new cases in New Zealand's managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

What you need to know:

  • Nine new cases of community transmission have been recorded in Auckland on Monday. No new cases have been detected in managed isolation and quarantine facilities
  • Seven of the new cases are linked to the existing Auckland cluster, while four cases remain under investigation. Five people are in hospital
  • There are 78 active cases of COVID-19, 58 of which were detected in the community
  • A fitness class, a guinea pig show, a mall and a rugby club in Auckland have been identified as locations for possible casual contacts (see 1:10pm/1:55pm)
  • New Zealand's new election date is October 17
  • A person who tested positive for COVID-19 visited Royal Oak Pak'nSave in Auckland on August 8
  • A White Cross New Lynn patient, an Avondale College student, an NZ Post worker and a person who worked at the Ports of Auckland have tested positive for the virus
  • The new wage subsidy scheme, announced on Monday afternoon, is forecast to cost about $510 million and cover 470,000 jobs
  • The Ministry of Education will soon allow year 12 and 13 students in Auckland back to school while the city is in lockdown.

These live updates have now finished.

8:55pm - Police say they could issue fines to people who break alert level 3 rules.

Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers says police have issued warnings over alert level 3 breaches, but issuing fines is a bigger discussion.

"We are discussing those very points with Health and with All of Government group. There may well come a time when we need to take that approach." 

Read the full report here.

8:25pm - A chronically-ill Northland resident who lives straddling Auckland's alert level 3 border is stuck city-side and isn't allowed to access medical services minutes from their home.

John Brown lives with his ill wife in Mangawhai which is just north of one of the police's northern border checkpoints. However, their house is just two kilometres away from the township on the other side of the border and is classed as 'Auckland'.

"We are Northlanders and we've been prohibited from getting our medical services from our doctor and pharmacy," Brown says.

Read the full report here.

7:55pm - Health Minister Chris Hipkins has revealed that when he announced a new testing strategy for border workers two months ago, there was no system in place to keep track of how many workers had received a swab for COVID-19.

Hipkins says a system to gather such data was now in place, but it took "too long" for that to happen.

"It showed that testing wasn't happening at the level we were led to believe it was happening."

Read the full report here.

7:15pm - With Auckland in lockdown and only selected students allowed to attend school, many have returned to learning from home.

But some lower decile schools still haven't been able to access enough devices for each student. In fact, Newshub's been made aware of one family with 10 children who are sharing one device between them.

The Education Minister is blaming the shortage on a supply issue.

Read the full report here.

Coronavirus: Live updates on New Zealand's COVID-19 outbreak - Monday, August 17
Photo credit: Getty Images

7pm - The Ministry of Education is giving Auckland principals the option to allow year 12 and 13 students back to school while the city is in alert level 3.

The dates students can return will be confirmed on Tuesday.

Auckland Grammar headmaster Tim O'Connor says he's "ecstatic" students can return.

Read the full report here.

6pm - Tune into Newshub Live at 6pm for the latest COVID-19 updates from here and around the world.

5:25pm - One Kiwi farmer has used the latest lockdown to create a wool clothing line.

'Grumpy Merino' was created by Sarah Reed, and she says the name is a combination of 'The Grampians' - the name of the farm she lives on - and her father-in-law's nickname 'Stumpy'.

"Basically at the end of lockdown one, with the three kids I felt a little like I had lost my identity and I just needed to find something for myself... That was a really challenging time for me and I don't know [if] other mums were in the same boat, but I felt like I just needed something for myself again so that's how I came up with the idea of the 'Grumpy Merino'," she says.

Read the full story here.

5:05pm - Are you still confused as to what you can and can't do in Auckland while its in alert level 3? You aren't the only one - huge swathes of locals soaked up the sun on Sunday at various packed beaches and parks across the city.

Auckland Council was concerned by the amount of people flouting the rules, which say you have to stay home unless you're doing a recreational activity. If you do leave your house, you have to maintain two metres of physical distance between others outside of your bubble.

Here's a rundown of why there's confusions surrounding the rules, and what you can and can't do during level 3.

Read the full report here.

4:50pm - The Restaurant Association, ACT leader David Seymour and National's finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith have all given their reactions to the wage subsidy extension.

The wage subsidy extension will be available for New Zealand businesses that can show a revenue drop due to COVID-19 of at least 40 percent for any consecutive period of at least 14 days within August 12 and September 10 compared to 2019. 

"We appreciate and support the extension to the wage subsidy. However, we would have liked to see the subsidy threshold dropped to 30 percent rather than the confirmed 40 percent.  We also believe the scheme should have been extended beyond two weeks," Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois said.

Read the reactions in the full report here.

4:25pm - Here's a refresher on today's COVID-19 case numbers. There are nine new cases in the community, seven of which are linked to the existing Auckland cluster.

There are currently 78 active cases in New Zealand.

4:10pm - Police have increased the number of road checkpoints at Auckland's borders. Officers are stopping everyone who is attempting to cross the borders and only allowing those moving for "essential" purposes to pass.

Three new checkpoints were added at the south Auckland border, bringing the number there to eight. 

The new checkpoints are at Pinnacle Hill/Medhurst Rd, Buckville Rd/Harrisville Rd and Mill Rd/Razorback Rd.

There continues to be five checkpoints at the northern border.

Police say as of 4pm on Sunday, 50,468 cars were stopped at these 13 checkpoints. Of those, 676 vehicles were turned around.

Read the full report here.

3:55pm - National's finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says the party supports the extension to the wage subsidy scheme, but ongoing subsidies "can't hide the heavy price Kiwis are paying for the Government's border failures".

He says the Government "failed" to test all border and quarantine facility workers, and adds New Zealand can't have an elimination strategy for the virus as its target when it's taking risks at the border.

"Not only is the second lockdown costing kids educationally, costing parents their jobs and the wider economy perhaps $400 million a week, the uncertainty it brings will further crush business confidence and delay our recovery," he says.

He adds borrowing more money to pay wage subsidies is necessary now, but to give the economy the best chance to rebuild, the border needs to be "competently" managed.

"Effective border management is the foundation on which our economy can recover."

National's finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith.
National's finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith. Photo credit: Getty Images

3:40pm - The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) has welcomed the extension to mortgage holidays, saying it will help support families who are struggling to pay their loan due to financial difficulties from COVID-19.

"The economic effects of the global pandemic still being felt widely across the country, including numerous examples of companies announcing restructures and jobs being disestablished. These announcements have a significant impact on the housing market in terms of people's confidence and their ability to pay their mortgage," chief executive Bindi Norwell says.

"It is great to see New Zealanders being supported in order to help them stay in their homes as they work through this difficult time."

But she adds she hopes that extending the 'holiday' doesn't place people into further debt down the track since the interest accrued during this period still needs to be paid back.

3pm - Finance Minister Grant Robertson is giving an update on the new COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme. Watch the announcement here.

New Zealand businesses that can prove a revenue drop of at least 40 percent due to COVID-19 will be eligible to apply for the new wage subsidy scheme, which is expected to cost the Government about $510 million and cover 470,000 jobs.

The new wage subsidy will cover the period that Auckland is at alert level 3 (if not extended, level 3 restrictions are set to be lifted on Wednesday, August 26). It has also removed the revenue-drop test for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme, which has been simplified to encourage people to get tested.

"To further support wide-scale testing, we've removed the revenue-drop and 'negatively impacted' tests for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme. This means businesses with workers who have been told by health officials or their medical practitioner to self-isolate will receive the equivalent of the wage subsidy, to help cover that person's wages for the time they cannot be at work," Robertson said.

Along with the existing wage subsidy extension - which is open until September 1 for eligible businesses - the Treasury estimates that about 930,000 jobs will be covered by the two schemes.

The mortgage deferral scheme is also being extended from its current end-date of September 27 to March 31, 2021. Further details will be made available by the Reserve Bank and the retail banks. Robertson says the mortgage deferral scheme has been "well-received".

The combined cost of the two schemes will be about $1.6 billion, Robertson revealed.

The new wage subsidy scheme will be open for applications by Friday, August 21.

Read the full report here.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson. Photo credit: Getty

2:45pm - A man completing his 14 days of mandatory managed isolation at Auckland's Rydges Hotel was shocked when guests were incorrectly informed of a positive case at the facility.

As reported by NZME, guests were advised to remain in their rooms while communal areas were cleaned following the supposed detection of a positive case. A letter delivered to the new arrivals said they would be notified if they were considered a close contact, but the risk of exposure to the virus was "very low".

When it was announced on Sunday that just one case of COVID-19 - a child who had been staying at the Pullman Hotel - had been detected in managed isolation, the man was surprised the Rydges wasn't mentioned.

It later transpired that the confirmed case had not been a guest at the Rydges Hotel, which was clarified to guests in a third letter. 

2:30pm - Details on the most recent confirmed cases as of 9am on Monday, released by the Ministry of Health.

Coronavirus: Live updates on New Zealand's COVID-19 outbreak - Monday, August 17
Photo credit: Ministry of Health

1:55pm - During the 1pm briefing, Dr Bloomfield outlined four Auckland locations which were attended by an individual who has tested positive for the virus. People who were at these locations at the specified times may be a casual contact, and should monitor their health over the coming days. 

  • Botany Mall: 1pm to 2pm on August 11
  • Buttabean Motivation (a fitness club), Kingsland: August 10
  • Auckland Cavy Club's Guinea Pig Show, Glenfield: 10am to 2pm on August 8
  • Eden Junior Rugby Club in Gribblehurst Park, Sandringham: 5:30pm to 6:30pm on August 11.

1:45pm - Dr Bloomfield confirmed one of the positive cases is someone who worked at the Ports of Auckland. The case will be investigated further, he said, but it appears the man's role requires only limited interaction with other staff. The port worker was a close contact of another case in the Auckland cluster.

Dr Bloomfield also noted that the ministry will be looking into a possible "breakdown in communication" from the top tier of the COVID-19 response - including himself and the Prime Minister - to district health boards and public health units.

1:30pm - Following the Government's order for all Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga staff to get tested - including any workers who attended the ports in recent days - Dr Bloomfield said the ministry is attempting to "cast a wide net".

More than 1000 Ports of Auckland workers had been tested by 5pm on Sunday, and Dr Bloomfield understands that 2000 to 3000 workers who had contact with the Port of Tauranga will be tested over the coming days.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board will begin COVID-19 surveillance testing for all Port of Tauranga workers from noon on Monday, August 17.

1:25pm - The Ministry of Health is expecting that Melbourne-based Americold workers will be tested on Monday. Scientists will use genome sequencing to look for a possible link between Melbourne's outbreak and the Auckland cluster. 

"We may never answer the question of how it was transmitted, but we will try to," Dr Bloomfield said.

He noted that it appears there is just the single cluster, which is "encouraging", and health officials are working to piece together a full picture of the "contours of the outbreak".

1:15pm - Dr Bloomfield has reiterated that COVID-19 the problem - not the people who have contracted it.

He denied claims that the public were "misled" about the rate of testing at the border, and said it's just a matter of "scaling up" the effort.

"There was testing happening in the [MIQ] facilities - absolutely," he reiterated, noting there were "challenges" and "complexities" in rolling out routine testing across all components of the border.

"We couldn't suddenly flick a switch and test everyone at the facilities... I don't think there has been a failure... our border systems have been continually strengthened," he said.

"The expectation was all border staff would be tested regularly, and that's what was being rolled out."

1:10pm - Dr Bloomfield has outlined some locations of interest for casual contacts connected to the Auckland cluster. These include:

  • Botany Mall: 1pm to 2pm on August 11
  • Buttabean Motivation, Kingsland: August 10
  • Auckland Cavy Club's Guinea Pig Show, Glenfield: 10am to 2pm on August 8
  • Eden Junior Rugby Club in Gribblehurst Park, Sandringham: 5:30pm to 6:30pm on August 11.

Dr Bloomfield said the ministry is trying to "cast a wide net" so anyone who had visited these locations can watch for symptoms.

Dr Bloomfield noted that test results from the Americold cool store in Mt Wellington will take "some time to process".

"We need all those tests to be completed to get a full picture," he said. "Even if some swabs return a possible test, it may be hard to tell where the cases came from."

New Zealand Food Safety has reviewed its most recent science and says there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be contracted through food or food packaging.

1pm - There are nine new cases of community transmission. There are no new cases in managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

Seven of the cases have already been linked to the existing Auckland cluster. Four cases are currently under investigation, but based on the information available, they are also believed to be linked to the outbreak.

There are now 78 active cases in the country - 58 of which are in the community.

Five people are receiving hospital-level care for the virus. Two are in Auckland City Hospital and three are at Middlemore Hospital.

Monday's numbers bring the confirmed case total to 1280.

On Sunday, 26,014 tests were processed, bringing the total of completed tests to date to 597,956.

12:55pm - Dr Ashley Bloomfield will provide the latest COVID-19 case update at 1pm.

Watch the livestream of the announcement above. 

12:30pm - An NZ Post worker at the Highbrook Operations Centre in Auckland has tested positive for COVID-19.

A statement from chief customer officer Bryan Dobson confirmed the team member followed the appropriate measures and stayed home when they felt unwell. The employee last attended work on Wednesday, August 12.

The individual is now in quarantine and a small number of people considered to be close contacts are awaiting their test results in isolation. A deep-clean of the centre was undertaken on Sunday night.

It follows a statement from Foodstuffs confirming a person who later tested positive for COVID-19 had shopped at Royal Oak Pak'nSave on Saturday, August 8.

A patient at White Cross New Lynn in Auckland also returned a positive test. The man visited the clinic between 6pm and 7pm on Saturday.

12:15pm - A student at Auckland's Avondale College has tested positive for COVID-19, the school has revealed.

After being notified, the college and Auckland Regional Public Health (ARPH) have been working to identify the student's close contacts. 

These close contacts are other students and staff who have been in the same classes as the infected student, and now have to isolate for 14 days.

"There will be a great deal of concern in the school community, but there is a lower risk as the student was not symptomatic while at school," a statement from the school explained.

"They got tested when they felt sick and are now in isolation."

The school remains open for students and families who need to attend, particularly children of essential workers.

Students and staff who haven't received a letter from ARPH about being close contacts are considered casual contacts. They are advised to keep an eye out for symptoms of COVID-19 over the next 14 days.

Avondale College.
Avondale College. Photo credit: Google Maps

11:55am - Auckland's two weeks at alert level 3 will cost the taxpayer about another $1 billion in wage subsidies, Finance Minister Grant Robertson estimates.

To date the wage subsidy scheme, paid to employers who can prove a loss of revenue directly caused by the pandemic and COVID-19 response, has cost $13.1 billion. Despite predictions that unemployment levels would skyrocket, Jobseeker Support numbers have only marginally increased since April - and the official unemployment rate actually fell in the most recent quarter - indicating the scheme is working.

After Cabinet meets on Monday, Robertson will reveal the "finer details" of the second extension to the scheme.

"We're going to build on what's worked, because we know the wage subsidy scheme has worked. Obviously with these restrictions right around New Zealand, it's being felt again," he told The AM Show on Monday. "If it needed to go longer - and that's a big if - we would look at that, but for now we are looking at two weeks."

Read the full report here.

11:35am - It's taking "frustrated" motorists roughly four hours to travel just 5 kilometres from Pokeno to Bombay as traffic continues to build at one of the south Auckland roadblocks. A Newshub reporter on the scene said a couple of people were getting out of their vehicles as they waited to cross the checkpoint. Footage from the queue shows a line of vehicles at a standstill.

Coronavirus: Live updates on New Zealand's COVID-19 outbreak - Monday, August 17
Photo credit: Newshub

11:20am - A charge against a man who broke into an Auckland managed isolation facility earlier this month has been with withdrawn, Stuff reports.

The 33-year-old Northland man forced entry into an outdoor area of the Crowne Plaza on August 7. Court documents show the man spoke with a friend staying at the facility, who had recently arrived from Australia, and gave him a hug - behaviour that was "incredibly irresponsible", according to Air Commodore Darryn Webb.

The man was charged with intentionally failing to comply with the COVID-19 response by associating with a person in managed isolation, and being in an area of the Crowne Plaza without reasonable excuse.

On Monday, it was reported that police prosecutor Sergeant Chris Goodall had asked for the lead charge to be withdrawn as it was determined the charge, made under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, was not applicable to the 33-year-old's circumstances. At the time, orders under the Act applied only to recent returnees. 

The second charge still applies, and carries a maximum penalty of three months behind bars and a $2000 fine. He will be sentenced on Friday.

11:10am - Finance Minister Grant Robertson has defended the Government's decision to move back up the alert levels, arguing that people need to see it from a "long-term" perspective.

Robertson says the decision to "go hard and early" in response to Auckland's community outbreak will pay off in the long run, as two weeks under alert level 3 now may prevent a return to level 4 lockdown later. 

"Absolutely, we don't want to be going up and down between levels. Equally, from a public health point of view, we know that stepping in early is the best thing to do. We stepped in with those greater restrictions as soon as we discovered this new cluster," Robertson told The AM Show on Monday.

"If you look across the ditch to Victoria, they waited several weeks. That means they're going to have a longer period of time in lockdown and a longer period with limited economic activity. You have to take a long-term view on this." 

10:50am - Newshub has received a report that it's currently taking four hours to travel just 5 kilometres from Pokeno to Bombay, where one of the south Auckland roadblocks is located. Motorists are "frustrated", with a couple spotted getting out of their vehicles. 

10:30am - Ardern reiterated there remains no evident link between the primary cluster in Auckland and managed isolation and quarantine facilities, although it's still under investigation.

The Prime Minister said she wants a comprehensive, mandated approach to the testing of border staff moving forward, saying the routine testing strategy "hasn't met our expectations".

"We have, as a Cabinet, urged regular testing," Ardern said. "When we ask as a Cabinet for something to happen, we expect it to happen."

Ardern said she was under the impression that testing was being completed on a weekly basis, but she cannot confirm that every single staff member was getting picked up on a weekly rota.

10:20am - During her announcement regarding New Zealand's new election date, the Prime Minister said there is "no evidence" the country should move back into alert level 4 lockdown.

"There is no evidence that that is where we should be," Ardern said.

As the epicentre of the latest outbreak of community transmission, Auckland is currently under alert level 3 restrictions. The rest of the nation is following alert level 2 protocol.

10:05am - The election has been moved by four weeks to October 17, the Prime Minister has announced. 

The Prime Minister said she doesn't intend to move the election date again.

Read the live updates and watch the PM's announcement here.

9:45am - A person who tested positive for COVID-19 visited Royal Oak Pak'nSave in Auckland last weekend.

The person shopped at the supermarket on Saturday, August 8 between 1pm and 3pm. 

Royal Oak Pak'nSave manager Michael Van Brink told staff they were "very unlikely to be affected by this brief exposure" in a letter on Sunday.

In a statement on Monday, Pak'nSave confirmed the person was not symptomatic when they visited the supermarket. Employees and shoppers in-store at the time are considered to be "low risk".

As a precaution, those in the supermarket on Saturday afternoon between 1pm and 3pm are asked to continue adhering to alert level 3 restrictions and watch for symptoms of COVID-19, such as a new or worsening cough; runny nose; sore throat; fever; or temporary loss of smell. 

The Pak'nSave Royal Oak team has been working closely with the Ministry of Health and heightened measures are in place, including two-metre physical distancing, increased sanitisation practices and perspex protective screens.

9:35am - With the reemergence of COVID-19 in the community, the Prime Minister will announce at 10am on Monday if the election will be postponed. 

Watch the PM's election announcement live here.

9:20am - Upper Hutt College principal Judith Taylor has clarified that it's "very unlikely" students would have contracted COVID-19 following a Year 13 class trip to Rotorua earlier this month.

It was discovered the geography students may have been exposed to the virus at Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland on Friday, August 7. A confirmed case had visited Wai-o-Tapu that day between 9am and 10:15am, and later tested positive on arrival in Japan.

A portion of an email sent to parents over the weekend was later shared to a community Facebook group, which Taylor says omitted crucial wording. 

"Unfortunately the information on the community Facebook page did not give the full text and omitted the wording (from the Hutt Valley DHB) that the students 'are very unlikely to get infected and are considered to be at low risk of catching the virus'," Taylor told Newshub.

Newshub obtained a full copy of the statement sent by the principal on Sunday, which said the students are considered casual contacts but there is "no cause for alarm".

"Health authorities have stated that these students are considered a 'casual contact', having been face-to-face with the person with COVID-19 for less than 15 minutes or in the same closed space for less than 2 hours. They are very unlikely to get infected and are considered to be at low risk of catching the virus," says the statement.

"All families of these students have been given the relevant health advice on what to do and are following that - I am aware that a number of students have already had COVID-19 tests or have appointments to do so. The teachers involved will also be getting a COVID-19 test."

9:15am - Traffic is currently backed up as Aucklanders attempt to get through the Buckland Road-Tuakau Road border into Pukekohe.

Traffic is backing up at one Auckland checkpoint.
Traffic is backing up at one Auckland checkpoint. Photo credit: Newshub

8:50am - The Prime Minister is expected to announce the decision regarding next month's imminent election date at 10am - and one political expert has laid out two possibilities.

Massey University Professor of Politics, Richard Shaw, told Newshub the election date will either be delayed or depoliticised.

If it is rescheduled, Shaw says it will likely be on the assumption that an October or November election date could provide a "safer environment" for voters. However, he notes there's "no guarantee" the country will have returned to its 'COVID-free' streak by that time - and postponing the election on that basis could lead to repeated delays.

"You could conceivably go on for a very long time if that were your logic," he said.

The other alternative is that the decision will be depoliticised, Shaw said, and will be left to the Electoral Commission and chief electoral officer. Under legislation, the agency has the ability to delay polling at one or more booths for one day, for up to three days, and successive one-week periods on consultation with the Prime Minister and Opposition leader.

"I genuinely have no idea which way it's going to go," he said.

8:20am - A technology expert says people are doing the right thing by questioning what they hear - but are turning to the wrong sources for the truth.

Tech PR consultant Paul Brislen, former head of the Telecommunications Users Association of NZ, told The AM Show on Monday that New Zealanders need to think more critically about speculation on social media.

"You've got to become journalists... Why are they saying this? How am I going to investigate this further? 

"You get people sharing it because they think they're doing the right thing. They think they've found something that people need to know about. They get stuck in, they do a little bit of desk research, and next minute you're sharing a conspiracy theory which has no validation, no truth whatsoever - and it's upsetting people's lives."

His warning follows the circulation of a "particularly virulent" rumour, according to Health Minister Chris Hipkins, that made false allegations against one of the original Auckland cases. The now debunked theory suggested a young woman had infiltrated a managed isolation facility to visit a man who had been deported from Australia.

Brislen acknowledged that seeking more information is "the right thing" to do, but seek information from credible sources "who know what they're talking about".

"Why would somebody's aunty in Timaru know that the Government is planning to introduce martial law at the end of October? Does that make any sense at all?" he said.

Both Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Hipkins have called out conspiracy theorists for spreading misinformation during this period of uncertainty.

7:40am - Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly says the social services organisation is well prepared to cater to the needs of the city's most vulnerable people under alert level 3.

Speaking to Newshub on Monday, Farrelly said the Auckland City Mission's additional food distribution centre will help staff to meet the growing demand for food parcels, which has doubled compared to this time last year.

"We're prepared to gear up and provide more emergency food," he said. "As of today, we've been able to cater for and cope with the increased numbers."

The City Mission's health centre is "fully cranked up", Farrelly said, and can provide virtual consults and on-site COVID-19 testing for its clients. 

7:10am - Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Leggett has called the emphasis on testing Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga workers "silly", claiming the order has incited "chaos" at the sites.

On Saturday, the Government issued an order for all Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga staff - and any workers who had contact with the ports - to get tested for COVID-19. The order also extends to visiting drivers, shipping agents and their staff, stevedores and contractors.

Leggett says the order has forced 12,000 to 15,000 truck drivers to "scramble", noting that the sheer number of workers the Government's order applies to will overwhelm limited testing facilities. 

"Why are these silly rules put in place at just short notice, forcing people to scramble?... You can imagine 12,000 or 15,000 descending on a testing station," he told The AM Show on Monday.

"We can't test all the workers it seems - we can't test border workers, we can't test Air NZ staff working on international flights, yet all of a sudden, out of nowhere, we need to test 15,000 truck drivers in Tauranga and Auckland because they're in contact with the port... the testing facilities just don't exist at the moment."

Read the full report here.

6:30am - Hamilton's SkyCity casino ejected two men who had travelled from Auckland on Thursday night in breach of alert level 3 protocol, according to a report.

Under level 3, travelling out of the city is currently heavily restricted. The rest of the country is under alert level 2.

Stuff reports staff at the central city casino asked the men to leave. Police said it was "incredibly disappointing" that the men had lied about their reasons for travel.

As of Saturday afternoon, 50,468 vehicles had been stopped at the 10 police checkpoints stationed around Auckland's border. 

SkyCity's Auckland casino has been closed due to the current restrictions, but its hotel and casinos in both Queenstown and Hamilton remain operational under level 2.

5:40am - A school in Wellington is scrambling to contact parents after discovering some of its students may have come into contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Upper Hutt College emailed parents at the weekend to say a year 13 geography class on a trip to Rotorua earlier this month may have been exposed to the virus at Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland on Friday, August 7.

"We only became aware of this situation on Saturday and have worked as quickly as possible over the weekend to get advice and guidance from the health authorities and to ensure the students and their families are kept well-informed," the email from principal Judith Taylor read.

The school was told the students are being considered "casual contacts".

A portion of the email was posted to a local community Facebook page.  

The confirmed case was at Wai-o-Tapu on that day between 9am and 10:15am, and tested positive for the virus after leaving New Zealand and arriving in Japan.