Auckland is moving to alert level 3 at midday on Wednesday while the rest of the country moves to alert level 2, after four new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Tuesday.
On Tuesday evening Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced four new cases had been detected due to community transmission. The cases are all from one family in south Auckland.
As a precautionary measure, Ardern announced Auckland would move to level 3 from 12pm on Wednesday. The rest of New Zealand will need to observe alert level 2 protocol.
The restrictions will last for at least three days, until midnight on Friday.
"One of the most important lessons we have learnt from overseas is the need to go hard and go early and stamp out flare-ups to avoid the risk of a wider outbreak," Ardern said.
Here's what this means for New Zealand:
Dr Bloomfield said there are several things all New Zealanders need to do now, including:
- going back to stringent hygiene e.g. washing hands regularly, sneezing and coughing into the elbow
- staying at home if unwell and contacting a GP or Healthline to arrange a COVID-19 test
- maintaining physical distancing of two metres wherever possible
- wearing a face mask or covering in spaces where physical distancing isn't possible, such as public transport
- downloading the NZ COVID Tracer app.
Auckland - alert level 3
Under alert level 3, Aucklanders are required to stay at home in their bubble. A bubble comprises of an individual's immediate household, but can expand to bring in caregivers or to support isolated people.
The only times Aucklanders can leave their home is for essential movements or local recreation. For example, visiting the supermarket or for short physical activity.
When outside, Aucklanders must maintain a physical distance of two metres, including on public transport, or one metre in controlled environments, such as workplaces for essential staff.
"Act as if you have COVID and the people around you have COVID," Ardern said.
People at high risk of severe illness, such as the elderly and those with existing medical conditions, are encouraged to stay at home where possible.
Wearing a mask is highly recommended by the Ministry of Health.
Gatherings of up to 10 people can occur, but only for wedding services, funerals and tangihanga.
Schools between years 1 to 10 and early childhood education centres can safely open, but children should still learn from at home if possible.
People can partake in low-risk recreational activities in their local area.
Public venues such as libraries, gyms and museums must close.
All Aucklanders should be working from home unless they are an essential service worker.
"Customers cannot come on to your premises," Ardern said. "Unless you are a supermarket, dairy, petrol station, pharmacy or permitted health service.
"Your business must be contactless. Your customers can pay online, over the phone or in a contactless way. Delivery or pick-up must also be contactless."
Public venues including libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds and markets will close.
"All public facilities, bars, restaurants, and businesses must close by midday tomorrow," Ardern said.
Education centres, schools, universities, and childcare facilities will close by midday Wednesday, except for the children of essential service workers.
Inter-regional travel is highly limited to, for example, essential workers, with limited exemptions for others.
Public transport will continue to operate with strict health and safety requirements.
Everywhere else - alert level 2
Wearing masks in public is optional. Schools can remain open and New Zealanders can continue to connect with friends and family.
However, maintaining a physical distance of two metres from strangers is advised when out in public or in retail stores. New Zealanders are asked to keep a one-metre distance in controlled environments like workplaces, where practical.
No more than 100 people are permitted to attend gatherings, including weddings, birthdays, funerals and tangihanga.
People at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are encouraged to take additional precautions when leaving their home.
Sport and recreational activities involving less than 100 people are allowed, as long as record-keeping and physical distancing, where practical, is observed.
New Zealanders can continue to go to work, with physical distancing, under alert level 2.
Businesses can open to the public if they are following public health guidance, which includes physical distancing and record-keeping.
Hospitality businesses must keep groups of customers separated, seated and served by a single staff member.
Public venues such as museums, libraries and pools can open if they comply with public health measures and ensure one-metre physical distancing and record-keeping.
Event facilities, including cinemas, stadiums, concert venues and casinos, can have more than 100 people at a time, provided there are no more than 100 in a defined space, and the groups do not mix.
It is safe to send children to schools, early learning services and tertiary education, however, safety measures will be in place.
Public transport will continue to operate with health and safety requirements.