COVID-19: What alert level 2 means for Auckland, level 1 for rest of New Zealand

From midnight on Wednesday, Auckland will lift out of its strict three day lockdown and into COVID-19 alert level 2.

The rest of New Zealand will drop to alert level 1. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the decision reflects Auckland's current situation - "COVID is contained, but there is a risk of community transmission."

The restriction will remain in place until Monday - with some exceptions. 

Anyone connected to Papatoetoe High School is asked to continue staying home for the rest of the week - although all other schools will open. 

Other restrictions will lift - Aucklanders will be able to escape their bubbles and meet in groups of up to 100.

It's still recommended that people stay physically distant from people they don't know - at least two metres. In controlled environments, like workplaces, one metre of distance will do.

Businesses can open to the public so long as they follow physical distancing and record-keeping rules, and alternative ways of working are encouraged where possible. Hospitality businesses must keep groups of customers separated, seated, and served by a single person.

Sport and recreation activities are allowed, and public venues like museums and libraries are allowed to remain open. Event facilities like cinemas and stadiums are also able to open, so long as no more than 100 people are in a single confined space.

Masks are still mandatory on public transport - including all flights in New Zealand. 

Schools, universities and early childhood education centres can also remain open, and health and disability services are allowed to operate as normal.

For the rest of the country, it's alert level 1 - COVID-19 is contained, but New Zealand must be prepared in case it reemerges. 

People are strongly urged to use the COVID-19 Tracer app to log where they've been - and ensure the Bluetooth function is turned on.

There are no restrictions on gathering numbers, and everyone can return to work, school and sport without issue. 

Ardern said on Wednesday Cabinet will review the current alert settings on Monday.