As it happened: All of New Zealand entering alert level 4 for at least three days

All of New Zealand will enter an alert level 4 lockdown from 11:59pm tonight.

This will be for at least three days, although Auckland and the Coromandel are likely to be there for seven days, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

This comes after a positive community case of COVID-19 was identified in Auckland and is now under investigation.

A link between the case and the border, or a managed isolation and quarantine facility, has yet to be established.

What you need to know:

  • All of NZ will enter an alert level 4 lockdown from 11:59pm tonight
  • The community case lives in Devonport on Auckland's North Shore and is a 58-year-old male
  • The Auckland Regional Public Health unit is undertaking interviews with the case for contact tracing purposes
  • Two contacts of the case are being treated as close contacts and they are self-isolating
  • All COVID-19 vaccinations will be suspended for at least 48 hours
  • It is New Zealand's first community case in 169 days.

These live updates have finished.

9:35pm - Devonport Pharmacy is now a location of interest. It was added by the Ministry of Health moments ago.

This brings the total number of locations of interest to 15.

As it happened: All of New Zealand entering alert level 4 for at least three days
Photo credit: Ministry of Health

9:30pm - All school-aged children will be learning from home while schools shut under level 4.

During the lockdown announcement, Ardern said all schools are expected to close for onsite learning.

Last lockdown, home learning was encouraged but children of essential workers could still attend in person.

The Government's COVID-19 website says schools will establish ways to teach online and remotely and, where possible, alert level 4 workers with children aged between 0 and 14 will need to make their own childcare arrangements.

9pm - Foodstuffs is encouraging shoppers across the country to follow certain guidelines in-store, including scanning in, wearing a mask, nominating one person in the household to shop, and asking a friend to shop on your behalf if you aren't feeling well.

A spokesperson says they are assuming the positive case has the Delta variant and ask all customers to comply with store signage to maintain physical distancing.

Shoppers are also urged not to stockpile supplies so that everyone has a fair shot of buying grocery essentials and using contactless payments where possible.

8:50pm - Air New Zealand has made a number of changes to its services following the lockdown announcement.

During alert level 4, travel is restricted to essential services only, and customers who are travelling need to check they're eligible to under the Government's guidelines.

For the next 48 hours, Air New Zealand will continue to operate its current schedule around the country so customers can return to their place of residence.

Food and drink services onboard domestic flights will be suspended and this is in place until further notice. Water is available on request on all flights. From tonight, Air New Zealand's lounges will close.

Valet parking will be closed to new bookings, however will stay open for 48 hours for customers to retrieve their vehicle.

Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran says the airline has prepared for this scenario. 

"We want to remind customers that we've been here before and have built capability to work through the changes," he says.

"Our teams will be working hard over the next 48 hours to get Kiwis to where they need to be and we ask that customers please be patient appreciate our staff are doing their very best."

Customers throughout New Zealand with existing bookings for travel between August 17 and August 24 will be able change their booking with change fees and any fare difference waived through to August 31. Customers can do this via their online booking tool. Those who have booked through a third party will need to contact their agent.

In addition to this, customers who hold a ticket for a domestic flight scheduled to depart up until September 30 are able to opt in for credit and can do this via the airline's online booking tool.

8:40pm - Domino's Beach Haven is cooking up pizzas and putting them into a community fridge so ingredients don't go to waste.

One Domino's worker at the branch asks people to keep their distance when collecting their pizza.

8:30pm - Interislander says travel on its ferries is now restricted to essential workers only.

"We are currently contacting all affected passengers. If you are due to travel with Interislander then we will be in touch shortly to make arrangements," they say.

"We will provide details for essential workers shortly."

8:25pm - Auckland Transport is reminding travellers that public transport is only available for people working in essential services, for medical reasons, and to access essential services including getting to the supermarket, pharmacy and COVID testing.

Schools are closed, so school bus services will not operate.

A face covering must be worn while on public transport.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff asks everyone to follow the COVID-19 guidelines.

"Wearing a mask is required on public transport at all alert levels, and it is particularly important that everyone follows this rule now there are potentially cases of COVID-19 in the community," he says.

"In addition, stay home except to access essential services and stay within your bubble. Track your movements with the NZ COVID Tracer app, maintain physical distancing and if you are ill, self-isolate and get tested."

Auckland Transport says all public transport (bus, trains, and ferries) will operate with strict health and safety requirements in place.

A physical distance of two metres must be kept while in public, including on public transport.

Travellers are also asked to use the AT Mobile app to check the capacity of services. When getting on and off a bus, passengers are asked to use the rear door.

Face masks are on sale in vending machines at public transport facilities across Auckland. The masks are in 42 machines at bus and rail stations and ferry wharves. QR codes are also on buses, trains, and ferries, and customers should tag on and off with their AT Hop card.

8:20pm - The Ministry of Health says two people who work with the man are being treated as close contacts and are self-isolating.

However, they warn this number is likely to grow as more information is gathered.

8:10pm - National leader Judith Collins says the party supports the Government's decision to move into an alert level 4 lockdown.

"The evidence from overseas is clear; decisive action to prevent further community spread is what is needed when it comes to the highly-transmissible Delta variant," she says.

"It is better to act now to stamp out the spread of COVID-19 than to take half-measures which do not work and result in it taking longer to shut down the spread."

Collins says it's crucial the Government resumes vaccinations as soon as possible, given this case highlights how important getting the jab is.

"Business support will obviously be necessary and we look forward to quick advice from Government as to how the economy will be supported during this difficult time," she says.

"We must act swiftly to get the situation under control and I ask New Zealanders to follow public health advice. Stay calm, don't panic, and please use the COVID-19 Tracer app."

8pm - The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says it will no longer strike on Thursday following the lockdown announcement.

NZNO Industrial Services manager Glenda Alexander said people's health and wellbeing have to remain their number one priority.

"Our issues are important, but it would not be safe or responsible for us to continue with a strike if the country is under lockdown," she says.

"Our members are resolute, and we will continue to look at future strike action, but our members are also health professionals and know that people and their wellbeing are the most important things. We will not put people in danger to make a point.

"One of our main issues has been that staffing levels are unsafe across the health system. We think it is important that all rostered nursing staff are at work should the COVID situation escalate."

The strike was planned for 11am until 7pm on August 19 and NZNO will make further announcements later.

7:55pm - The Ministry of Health has released more locations of interest.

As it happened: All of New Zealand entering alert level 4 for at least three days
Photo credit: Ministry of Health

7:53pm - Te Huia, the commuter train that travels between Auckland and Hamilton, won't be operating until at least August 24.

"An update on the resumption of services will be provided when an announcement on alert levels is made by the New Zealand Government," a Facebook post says.

7:50pm - ACT leader David Seymour says the Government's announcement it will pause vaccinations for 48 hours is "the most nonsensical decision it could make".

"We are bottom of the OECD for vaccinations. Our low rates of vaccinations is what has put us most at risk of a Delta outbreak," he says.

"The Prime Minister acknowledged that an outbreak at some point was inevitable, so why hadn't she planned for this?

"We need to get the population vaccinated as fast as possible. Stopping vaccinations makes no sense. We should have been prepared for this."

Ardern said earlier that vaccinations are paused so health officials can see whether they can be done safely while in lockdown.

7:35pm - People have flooded to liquor stores amid the lockdown announcement.

One person filmed a car trying to leave Leith Liquor in Dunedin and showed the driver struggling to get through the crowds of people.

Another video filmed in Christchurch showed university students queueing outside Liquorland Bush Inn.

Liquorland Bush Inn.
Liquorland Bush Inn. Photo credit: Supplied

7:30pm - Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles says her first reaction to the case was that it "isn't great news", but we've been expecting it for a while.

"We've had plenty of near misses, and so it was really just a matter of time," she tells The Project.

But she's highly confident the lockdown will work against the Delta variant, if it turns out that is what the case is infected with.

"We know that the lockdowns, depending on how you do them, it's all about stopping human-to-human transmission by stopping our interactions with each other," Wiles says.

"And what we've seen around the world is that countries that don't do them well - we use this same word, lockdown, but it means very different things - and so that's why I'm really relieved that we're doing level 4. We know that that's really good at stopping our interactions."

7:20pm - An emergency alert has just been sent to cellphones, alerting people of the upcoming lockdown.

It tells people to stay home, wear a mask when in public, and to call Healthline if you develop any symptoms.

As it happened: All of New Zealand entering alert level 4 for at least three days
Photo credit: Supplied

7:10pm - It's been over a year since New Zealand was last in alert level 4. Here's a reminder of what you need to know.

7:02pm - The announcement of a snap level 4 lockdown is "challenging but inevitable", Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois says.

"We are feeling for hospitality businesses who once again will pay the highest possible price to protect the nation from an outbreak of the Delta variant," she says.

"Lockdown is incredibly challenging for the hospitality industry and in respect of a level 4 lockdown, gives them no opportunity for revenue."

Bidois says feedback from members shows there is general support for a focussed lockdown in one area. Discussions with members has also shown they would rather have a short sharp lockdown that works rather than months of restricted trading or yo-yoing between alert levels.

"COVID is a reality that we are all living with, and whilst we appreciate the approach that has been taken in New Zealand has given hospitality businesses more opportunity to stay operational, the entire industry has been poised for a return to higher alert levels. Those that have been able to, will have been setting money aside to help them to get through business closure periods," she says.

"Whilst the wage subsidy is appreciated and obviously gives employees certainty, we would like to see more support for business owners by way of targeted fiscal assistance to help them cover their fixed costs."

6:56pm - Auckland Council says the majority of its facilities will be temporarily closed to the public from Wednesday August 18.

Facilities including libraries, pools, leisure centres, early childcare centres, community venues and playgrounds will all be closed for the next seven days. Some public toilets will remain open. 

Auckland Council’s public Wi-Fi at council libraries will be switched off and drinking fountains will also be unavailable under alert level 4.

Auckland Council Chief Executive Jim Stabback says this move is in line with Government guidelines.

"However, I want to reassure people that all essential services will continue, including waste collection and disposal, critical maintenance works and continuation of core public transport function for essential workers," he says.

"We know this can be a stressful time, but Aucklanders have been here before and we know what to do to get through this together.

"We will continue to update people as the situation evolves and we hope that with a short, sharp lockdown we will be able to get back to business as usual again soon."

A list of services that are and aren't available during alert level 4 can be found on the Auckland Council website.

6:53pm - Minister of Finance Grant Robertson is speaking now. He says the Government is going to trigger income support.

There will be a wage subsidy for Auckland and the Coromandel if businesses expect a loss of 40 percent or more. Businesses will be eligible for up to $600 per week per full-time employee.

Eligible businesses can apply for a resurgance support payment if they incur a loss or 30 percent revenue. That's worth up to $1500 plus $400 per FTE up to a max of 50 FTEs.

Wage subsidy applications will open this Friday.

Robertson says for a week at alert level 4, the cost to New Zealanders is estimated to be $1.5 billion. This is the output lost in the economy, not the cost of the wage subsidy scheme.

"While that is significant, the benefit of stomping it out now eclipses the cost," he says.

6:52pm - Dr Bloomfield says the wife of the positive case in fully vaccinated but is in a different age group. She has been tested and is negative, but she will be retested.

Health officials are looking at moving them to the Jet Park quarantine facility.

6:50pm - Ardern says that Delta is serious, and they are working off the assumption that the case has this variant.

"We need to respond to that. All the things we've done before, and they will work again, if people follow the rules, look after each other, and stay home."

6:48pm - GPs are asked to do more appointments virtually since there is a need to reduce unnecessary movement of people out of their homes, Ardern says.

6:46pm - In terms of Cook Islands travel, Ardern says her assumption is that the Cook Islands will likely close flights into the country, but will allow people to fly out.

6:44pm - Ardern is reminding people not to panic-buy because there's "no need".

"I know we have a natural instinct and people worry about their provisions. Just remember other people need to buy things too - be kind, be courteous. It doesn't make sense for people to rush out, it means you congregate," she says.

"I have gotten used to [the fact that] nothing I say changes behaviour."

6:41pm - Education facilities must shut during alert level 4 and children are at home, Ardern says.

"Teachers have done this before. I know how hard it is for them and parents. We do have an expectation schools will stand up the systems they've had in place," she says.

6:39pm - Ardern says we, as yet, do not know the source of the case and genomic sequencing will give them an understanding.

6:37pm - Dr Bloomfield says Australia has been using the vaccine roll-out ramp-up to control the outbreak, whereas in New Zealand, it is the biggest thing to suppress the outbreak.

6:34pm - Wastewater testing suggests there isn't widespread community spread in Auckland.

In terms of implementing an alert level 4 lockdown, Ardern says it's better to start high and be able to move out.

"Go hard, go early has served us well," she says.

There will be a 48-hour period for relocation, although Ardern says they want people to move around as quick as they can.

6:32pm - Even with high vaccination rates, there would still need to be a range of public health measures in place, Dr Bloomfield says.

Ardern adds that even some countries that have high vaccination rates are still seeing Delta cases.

6:29pm - The infected case isn't vaccinated, although his wife is. Ardern says he'd had issuse with the vaccine booking website and was making "every attempt" to book in.

6:27pm - All COVID-19 vaccinations will be suspended for at least 48 hours while health officials are unsure if they can be done safely.

6:26pm - Ardern says there is a plan to assess if there are undetected chains of transmission elsewhere and we've seen the "dire consequences" of acting too slow.

6:22pm - New Zealand will move to alert level 4 from 11:59pm tonight. This will be for at least three days, although Ardern says the Coromandel and Auckland will likely be in lockdown for seven days.

6:20pm - Dr Bloomfield says the most recent wastewater test on Auckland's North Shore came back negative.

He adds that it is possible there are other cases around.

6:16pm - There are 23 locations of interest: 13 are in the Coromandel and 10 are in Auckland.

As it happened: All of New Zealand entering alert level 4 for at least three days
Photo credit: Ministry of Health

6:14pm - Dr Bloomfield says the case is a 58-year-old male who lives in Devonport. The case was symptomatic on Saturday and his infectious period is considered to have started last Thursday.

There is still no obvious link to the border.

Genome sequencing confirming the variant is due back in the early hours of Wednesday.

The person lives with his wife, who has returned a negative test. They've both been self-isolating.

They travelled to the Coromandel township last Friday and the case has a small number of workplace contacts who are isolating and being tested.

6:02pm - Newshub understands this community case is a resident of Devonport on the North Shore and is aged in their 50s.

6pm - Ardern and Dr Bloomfield are now set to speak to media at 6:10pm, the Prime Minister's Office says.

5:50pm - In about 10 minutes at 6pm, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will give an update on this community case.

You will be able to watch that in the video player above, here, or by tuning in on Three.

5:40pm - Epidemiologist Michael Baker says we can be "almost totally certain this is Delta" and there could be "serial chains of transmission".

"If we've got an outbreak… that always implies there are cases we can't see. It's a tip of the iceberg situation.

"You will need a lockdown at some level".

5:30pm - Disease modelling expert Shaun Hendy says this new case is "really disappointing", given that New Zealand has had a good run with COVID-19.

"I was always optimistic we were going to get through the winter. Unfortunately with this case, we don't know a lot and it's obviously potentially quite concerning," he tells Newshub.

"We've got to assume it's Delta, even though it's not confirmed."

Hendy says the severity that the impact of this case could have will depend on whether health staff can establish a link to the border.

"If that does show up, then that suggests we may be dealing with a smaller outbreak. If they can't, that means we're probably dealing with a immunity outbreak and we'll need to see alert level change quickly."

5:20pm - Police are increasing their visibility at supermarkets as lengthy queues form outside some in Auckland. This is to give workers and the public reassurance.

"Police reiterate advice from our partner agencies to remain calm and that there is no need for panic buying," a spokesperson says.

"Evening traffic congestion is also building across the region.

"Police remind motorists to drive to the conditions and to allow plenty of time to reach their destinations safely."

5:10pm - If you're in Auckland and need to get tested for COVID-19, a full list of testing centres is available here.

5:05pm - Watch Newshub's breaking news special on the latest case here. You can also tune in on Three.

4:55pm - Epidemiologist Michael Baker says, like most New Zealanders, he is "very disappointed" at this case.

"We had gone about six months without any cases in the community, which is really good going, which is a tribute to our border workers and all New Zealanders for keeping this virus out," he tells Newshub.

"We know with outbreaks there are two main types. One is when there is a case that is clearly linked to the border and that means contract tracing can work well because you know all the people that might be infected. You can obviously quarantine them, follow up their contacts and you can basically put a circle around the outbreak.

"The other type and much more serious is when you see cases in the community, you don't know where they have come from and that means there must be other cases in the community that we don't know about."

Baker says the virus is "very contagious" and it therefore as a shorter incubation period.

"So if you see one case, there might already be many other chains of transmission you can't see, and again we won't know based on the one case we have got so far now how extensive that transmission is, but it does mean you need to use a lot more additional measures to dampen down and stamp out that outbreak," he says.

"If the evidence shows there is no clear link to the border you have to basically assume there are many other cases and lines of transmission that you can't see. Then you know time is of the essence and we know you have to respond very decisively and very rapidly. That does mean some level of lockdown as fast as possible."

4:45pm - Antoinette Laird, the head of corporate affairs at Foodstuffs NZ, is assuring New Zealanders that their supermarkets are well-stocked.

"Fortunately, our North Island and South Island DC has plenty of extra capacity and the team have been holding extra volumes of key essential items should it be required in a case like this. So, we are again asking customers to #shopnormal and be kind to our teams and each other," she says.

"Our teams are preparing to move alert levels and we ask customers to be patient as we prepare to roll out the various safety precautions required to keep everyone safe.

"In the meantime we encourage everyone to scan the COVID tracer app and wear masks to protect themselves and our teams."

They will advise further after the Government's announcement later this evening.

Manukau Countdown.
Manukau Countdown. Photo credit: Supplied

4:40pm - The owner of Tart Bakery in Grey Lynn, Philippa Stephenson, says while Auckland has been in this situation before, it's still a "huge business disruption".

"I just think it's so terrifically sad that a business such as ours, that's virtually a decade old, is very, very unwell because of nothing anybody did. It wasn't from stupidity or financial irregularities or not paying people or any problem with anything - we simply got muched up by COVID," she tells Newshub.

"When COVID hit, the supermarkets did extraordinarily well because they were the only people who were allowed to trade food, and it just completely blew everyone else out of the water."

Stephenson says it's been hard to get customers back in store now that people's habits have changes throughout the pandemic, since more have realised they can cook and bake their own food at home.

4:35pm - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says it's "incredibly disappointing" this case has been found in the community.

"What we need to do now is take every step necessary to stop the spread of the virus," he says.

"While we await the Government's decision this evening, I urge Aucklanders to remain calm, follow the health guidelines, and remember we have been here before and we know how to beat the virus.

"All of us share a collective responsibility to do the right thing and to follow the rules. When the Government announces its decision on an appropriate response to the detection of the COVID case in our community, Auckland Council will follow any guidelines and health directives issued by the government."

Goff asks Aucklanders to wear masks on public transport and in places where you can't maintain social distancing, wash your hands regularly, and use the COVID Tracer app.

4:25pm - Ardern has just landed at Wellington Airport and said she didn't have any updates to give.

She says people can watch the update at 6pm for the latest.

4:20pm - There is extra security at West Liquor in Glen Eden.

A Newshub reporter says there are cars piling into the car park and the store is heaving, although there are no queues out the doors yet.

4:15pm - More panic-buying has begun across Auckland.

The below image is from Countdown Lincoln Road.

Countdown Lincoln Road.
Countdown Lincoln Road. Photo credit: Supplied / Taryn Broughton

And these two images are from St Lukes Mall.

As it happened: All of New Zealand entering alert level 4 for at least three days
Photo credit: Supplied
As it happened: All of New Zealand entering alert level 4 for at least three days
Photo credit: Supplied

4:10pm - In today's vaccine update, 934,207 people are now fully vaccinated. A total of 1,619,943 people have received their first dose.

On Monday, 30,076 first doses were given and 16,020 second doses were given, bringing the total doses administered to 46,096.

4:05pm - Auckland Transport (AT) is reminding all commuters that face masks must be worn on public transport and customers are advised to scan in using the COVID Tracer app on buses, trains and ferries.

AT recommends that customers also register their AT HOP card to help with contact tracing.

"Everyone 12 years and older must wear a face covering on public transport at all alert levels," they say.

"Face masks are on sale in vending machines at public transport facilities across Auckland. The masks are in 42 machines at bus and rail stations and ferry wharves."

4pm - It is now confirmed that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Dr Ashley Bloomfield will provide an update at 6pm.

3:55pm - Countdown spokesperson Kiri Hannifin says they are in the process of preparing their stores for a change in alert levels, and they want customers to stay calm and kind while they do this.

Customers are asked to wear masks while in stores and to scan in using the COVID Tracer app.

"We know this is unnerving news for everyone, but we are well-practiced at shopping safely during alert level changes and we can do it again," she says.

"At the moment all of our stores are open and we will have physical distancing measures in place, as well as extra cleaning and hygiene practises on top of what we do normally.

"We're seeing extra demand for online shopping and remind everyone that all our stores are open and there is plenty of food and other groceries so there's no need to buy more than you need."

3:45pm - Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles is reminding people that we have been through this before and conquered it, so there is no need to panic.

"We need to prepare ourselves if a link isn't found very quickly, then it's likely our Government will react hard and fast as we have in the past," Wiles tells Newshub.

"There is no reason to panic, this is the way we stop any further transmission or at least slow it down while the investigation is ongoing."

She says it's "really, really important" for people, especially those in Auckland, to call Healthline and get a test if they have any symptoms.

Wiles adds supermarkets will be open and stocked so there's no need to panic-buy.

"The first thing to remember is that when we panic, we don't act in our best interest. So remember to try to stay calm and remember that we have done this before several times," she says.

"We have got through it every time. We know that the supermarkets stay open and stocked so there is no need to rush out."

If people do go out and about, she's urging people to wear a mask, especially if they're in confined spaces or on public transport. She also asks people to always use the COVID Tracer app.

3:40pm - Countdown Mt Eden already has queues well out the door.

One shopper told Newshub it is busier now and the queue is longer than it was when Auckland was in lockdown.

"It only took an hour to get this busy," he says. "It's so busy."

As it happened: All of New Zealand entering alert level 4 for at least three days
Photo credit: Supplied

The queues are also similar at an unnamed Auckland supermarket.

3:37pm - Cook Islands authorities tell Newshub they are awaiting further information from the New Zealand Government before deciding on any changes to its travel bubble with Aotearoa following this case.

3:35pm - National Party MP Chris Bishop says it is "concerning news" about this case in Auckland.

"Encourage people to not panic. Use the tracer app. Stay calm," he says.

3:30pm - Auckland Transport has issued a reminder that face coverings are mandatory on public transport at all alert levels.

"It's a good idea to carry one with you in case you need to jump on a train, bus or ferry," they say.

"If you forget yours, we've got you covered with disposable masks available in vending machines across the network."

3:25pm - Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles is urging Aucklanders to stay calm while this case in under investigation.

"Health officials are investigating a case of COVID in the community. They'll be looking for a link to the border/MIQ. In the meantime, don't panic. We all know what to do. Stay calm, scan, & mask-up. And be kind to yourselves and each other," she says.

"Also, a massive thanks and a gold star to the person with symptoms who got tested. Please if you have any symptoms that could be COVID-19 - things like cold and flu like symptoms and loss of sense of smell, GET TESTED!"

3:20pm - An update from the Government is expected at 6pm.

3:15pm - Some Auckland childcare centres are warning parents they may be required to keep their children at home, as the investigation of this case continues.

3:10pm - Joep de Ligt, who is the lead of bioinformatics and genomics at the Institute of Environment Science and Research (ESR), says the Auckland team is gearing up for a late night of lab work investigating this case.

"We're on the job and will be looking for hints about potential links through the genome sequencing," he tweeted.

3:07pm - COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins issued a stark warning earlier this month, that the Government wouldn't hesitate to implement an alert level 4 lockdown if the Delta variant of COVID-19 emerged in the community.

Again, this case in the community is under investigation and the variant is unknown.

"The main variant is the Delta variant - it's more transmissible, causing more hospitalisations and more deaths and making younger people sick," Hipkins told reporters. 

Hipkins said if the Delta variant appeared in the community - like it has in Australia with devastating results - the Government would act swiftly, and impose alert level 4 restrictions. 

"In the event we discovered Delta we would move to alert level 4...we maintain the best economic response is a strong public health response, and a short sharp lockdown is likely to be more successful [than a longer, less restricted one]." 

Hipkins warned any future lockdowns would be announced with very little notice and urged New Zealanders to have a plan. 

"My message to all New Zealanders is this is not over we are still going to be dealing with this for some time to come."

3:05pm - Cabinet is meeting right now and there is an All-of-Government meeting happening too. Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will then give advice to ministers at 4:30pm and Cabinet will meet again.

2:55pm - Epidemiologist Michael Baker says it's "very worrying news" that a community case has been detected.

"We've always known we would expect to see more outbreaks," he tells Newshub.

"We can be fairly certain this will be the Delta variant as that is the dominant strain of the virus at present."

It is currently unknown what variant the person has.

"I'm sure we'll get very clear advice about what that means and we do know the formula New Zealand has adopted that works well is to have a very rapid and tense response to any case in the community not linked to the border," Baker says.

He adds there's "no doubt" contact tracing will be happening rapidly.

"If there is not an obvious source we would expect a very intense lockdown at this stage."

He recommends Auckland should move to alert level 3 tonight if the source isn't found, and if the infected person travelled, they've put the rest of the country at risk.

2:50pm - The community case was detected on Tuesday afternoon.

"While we collect more specific information all New Zealanders are reminded of the basic public health measures of mask-wearing and hand-washing. In particular anyone in Auckland catching public transport on Tuesday afternoon or who cannot socially distance in public spaces should wear a mask as a precaution," a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said.

"Ministers will meet this afternoon once additional information is gathered to confirm a response. An update will be provided after that. 

A hard-and-early response is the best tool to stamp out any potential spread and everyone in New Zealand is asked to stay calm, be kind and play their part while we gather more information on the potential case."

Meanwhile, there are no new cases to report in managed isolation facilities. One previously reported case has recovered since Monday's update, bringing the number of active cases in New Zealand to 43.