COVID-19: Auckland at alert level 2 - what you can and can't do

Auckland is officially in alert level 2 after enduring seven days under the more restrictive level 3 curbs. 

On Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the Super City would shift back to alert level 2 as of 6am on Sunday. Following Cabinet's review of the current alert levels, it was also decided that the rest of New Zealand could move to alert level 1 - the setting closest to pre-pandemic normality.

The Auckland region was plunged into alert level 3 a week ago after it was revealed on Saturday that a new case of COVID-19, referred to as Case M, had failed to isolate while he was likely infectious. After seeking a test, the 21-year-old - a student at the Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) - flouted official instructions and went to a local gym. 

He also visited several public spots that week, including MIT. According to the Ministry of Health, people who undergo a test for COVID-19 must isolate until they have returned a negative result.

While Aucklanders worked from home and remained in their household bubbles, health officials were piecing together the extent of the transmission possibly caused by Case M's movements. 

However, no further cases have been detected in the community since alert level 3 was enacted a week ago.

Auckland will now remain at alert level 2 for the majority of the coming week, with Ardern noting Cabinet would consider moving the region to alert level 1 at the start of next weekend.

Here is a refresher on what Aucklanders can and can't do under alert level 2.

If you are sick, stay home and get tested

Under alert level 2, Aucklanders can return to work and school. However, there are several public health measures that need to be followed.

It's crucial that Aucklanders stay at home if they are sick and do not go to their school, workplace, or social events.

If you are presenting cold or flu-like symptoms, or those consistent with COVID-19, call your doctor or Healthline to seek advice before organising a test. Tests are free for everyone.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include a new or worsening cough, fever, muscle pain, shortness of breath, a sore throat, sneezing, a runny nose, and temporary loss of smell. 

If you are told to self-isolate, you are legally required to do so immediately.

For more information on testing and self-isolating, click here.

Maintain good hygiene

It's important that Aucklanders are maintaining basic hygiene measures while under alert level 2. These include washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, keeping surfaces - particularly those that are regularly touched - clean and sanitised, and coughing or sneezing into your elbow.

If you are infected with COVID-19, maintaining good hand hygiene will minimise the risk of others picking up the virus through hand-to-hand or surface transmission.

Keep track of where you've been

A crucial public health measure is keeping a record of your movements. This applies to all New Zealanders regardless of the current alert level. 

Everyone should either be using the NZ COVID Tracer app or keeping a written diary. This helps with rapid contact tracing in the event of a future outbreak.

Businesses are legally required to display an NZ COVID Tracer QR code poster. They also are legally required to have an alternative contact tracing system in place.

App users can either scan the QR codes to add the business to their personal record or can add a manual entry if the location - such as a public outdoor space or place in nature - does not have a poster.

For more information on how to track your movements, click here.  

To learn how to get an NZ COVID Tracer QR code poster, click here

Maintain physical distancing in public

Under alert level 2, Aucklanders should maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres from strangers while in public spaces, including supermarkets and retail stores.

While in workplaces, gyms, and hospitality venues, a physical distance of at least 1 metre should be maintained from others. 

For more information on physical distancing, click here. 

Wear a face covering

People are legally required to wear face-coverings on public transport and on domestic flights. Taxi and ride-share drivers must also wear a mask - it is not compulsory for passengers, but is strongly recommended.

People are also encouraged to wear face coverings in situations where physical distancing is not always possible, like in shops and supermarkets.

There are some exemptions, including children under the age of 12 and students on school buses.

For more information on who must wear face coverings, where they should be worn and exemptions, click here. 

Do not travel if unwell

Aucklanders should not travel if they are self-isolating, presenting flu-like symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or awaiting a test result.

Inter-regional travel is currently permitted as the rest of New Zealand is at alert level 1.

Gatherings and events are restricted

Under alert level 2, no more than 100 people are permitted at social gatherings, including weddings, birthdays, funerals, and tangihanga.

There are specific restrictions at alert level 2 depending on the type of gathering. Read more on these via the links below:

Participate in exercise, sport and recreation safely

You can do your usual exercise and recreation activities under alert level 2 - if you can do them safely.

Professional leagues can go ahead at alert level 2 because they take place in controlled workplaces. 

When exercising in public, keep a 2 metre distance from strangers where possible.

The following activities are permitted under alert level 2:

  • walking, biking, and hunting, including on public conservation land - overnight trips are okay
  • swimming at a public swimming pool - but with restrictions
  • going to the gym - but with restrictions
  • boating and motorised watersports.

For more information on exercise and recreation at alert level 2, click here

You can go to work and visit businesses

Businesses are able to open, but they legally must follow public health rules. These include physical distancing and keeping a record of customers. Alternative ways of working are encouraged where possible.

Here are the golden rules for businesses operating at alert level 2:

  • talk with your staff to identify risks and ways to manage them
  • ask everyone - workers, contractors and customers - with cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms to stay away from your premises
  • keep workers 1 metre apart and customers in retail businesses 2 metres apart
  • display a QR code and provide an alternative contact tracing system
  • strongly encourage staff to wear face coverings if they are in close contact with others
  • reduce the number of shared surfaces and regularly disinfect them.
  • maintain good hand hygiene.

For more information on how to operate a business at alert level 2, click here