COVID-19: Auckland moving to level 2 from midnight, rest of NZ to level 1

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield have announced from midnight Wednesday New Zealand's alert levels will shift down.

Auckland will move down to level 2 and the rest of the country will move to level 1. These alert levels will be reviewed again by Cabinet next week.

"I want to stress this is good news," Ardern says.

Papatoetoe High School students and their families are being asked to stay at home while the rest of Auckland's schools will be allowed to open. Ardern says if people are sick, they should stay home.

"There is every chance we will find further cases," she says.

The alert level 3 lockdown was necessary, Ardern adds, and they "absolutely" stand by that decision.

She says they weren't clear on the origin of that case, and "going hard" is much better than getting it wrong. She asks Aucklanders to keep to the rules so they can have the assurance they can move down alert levels later. Mask use on public transpor0t across New Zealand  is being mandated "for now".

Mayor Phil Goff says he welcomes the move to level 2 for Auckland.

"I want to thank Aucklanders for their efforts over the last few days. I know it has not been easy," he says in a statement.

"However, today's cases show us a short sharp lockdown was necessary to hit this outbreak on the head. We are not fully out of the woods yet, so we need to be cautious.

"The vital thing now is for people to continue scanning their QR codes and get tested if they are feeling unwell."

The Mayor said even with the move to level 2, the last three days had put Auckland businesses under pressure.

"This is the third time Auckland has been at level three in less than 12 months and the cumulative impact on businesses is real. We need to ensure there is flexibility from the government to help those businesses most affected by even relatively short periods at level 3, as well as those that are most impacted by level 2 restrictions."