COVID-19: Govt issues section 70 notice for gym-goers, people already contacted by health officials to isolate and get tested

A number of people who may have had contact with a positive COVID-19 case from the February cluster have been ordered to isolate and undergo testing, as New Zealand prepares to shift down alert levels over the weekend.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield issued a section 70 health order on Friday, directing people who were at City Fitness Gym at Hunters Plaza on February 20 between 11:15am and 1:45pm, or on February 26 between 3:25pm and 4:30pm to isolate at their home and report for and undergo medical testing.

Dr Bloomfield said the health order also applied to anyone who has already been contacted by Auckland Regional Public Health Service or contact tracing teams and been informed that they are a close-plus, a close or a casual-plus contact.

"It also enables those affected to be visited immediately at their homes or at work by public health officials," he said. 

"Any time a person receives a direction from a medical officer they must comply with it." 

His directive on Friday came after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Auckland would be shifting to alert level 2 at 6am on Sunday, with the rest of the country moving to level 1.

Auckland moved to the heightened levels last weekend, after the emergence of a new community case whose cause of infection at that time could not be established.

The person was also thought to be infectious for as long as a week, and had visited a number of public places during that time, including City Fitness Gym.

That change of levels was announced at an impromptu press conference on Saturday night and came into effect on Sunday morning, forcing events like Round The Bays to be cancelled at the last minute.

When asked today why Auckland couldn't move down alert levels on Friday night, Ardern replied: "Our judgement has been that this full seven days gives a chance for positive cases to manifest".

She said sticking with the full seven days was the "wise course to take".