COVID-19: Delta alert level 2 - What the stricter new rules mean for New Zealand

Everywhere outside of Auckland will move into alert level 2 on Tuesday at 11:59pm - but it's not level 2 as we know it.

The Prime Minister calls it Delta level 2 and it will be much stricter. Masks will be mandatory inside most public venues, including shops, malls and libraries, although they can be taken off at cafes and restaurants to eat.

There'll be a limit of 50 people for indoor gatherings and event venues, and scanning will be mandatory at bars, restaurants, cinemas, churches, hairdressers and anywhere where there's close contact between people.

Goodbye contactless coffee and so long abandoned swings. We're bidding level 3 adieu and diving back into level 2 - where there's a lot more we can do.

While Auckland carries at level 4 with 20 new cases three days on the trot, everyone else can get back to level 2. But this is not quite level 2 as we know it - Delta dictates we do things differently.

This means when you leave home you must remember your wallet, keys, phone and now mask.

"If you're entering a retail shop or an indoor facility like a mall or a library you must wear a mask," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Mandated masks in indoor public venues, easier in some places than others.

"I think doing weights with masks on is easy - maybe not so much if you're on a treadmill running for half an hour or so but I will just do what needs to be done to get my business back up and running," Tauranga City Gym owner Brenden Stuart says.

Staying open relies on us staying at level 2, and that means an airtight seal of Auckland's border so COVID has no road into Tauranga - or the rest of the country. Now essential workers crossing the border out will need to be tested like our international border workers.

"Workers crossing the Auckland border will be expected to have had a test in the last seven days and be able to show proof of this," Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker wanted to be even more careful - saying nightclubs, church services, and gyms are ripe for superspreading and too risky. He's proposing Delta level 2 should see them shut.

"One infected person can easily infect a whole heap of other people and it is difficult for people to wear masks all the time on those settings. I think that at 'level 2 plus' some of these venues shouldn't happen," he says.

The Government didn't go that far but in places like gyms, museums and libraries people must now spread 2 metres apart like in the supermarket.

Under the old level 2, gatherings were capped at 100. Under Delta 2 you can still have a hundred outdoors - but inside numbers are chopped in half with only 50 allowed at indoor gatherings.

Changepoint Church has a congregation of 1000 and is ready to reopen - but not with a limit of 50.

"Probably will remain on an online basis because it's just not that workable for us," Pastor David Dishroon says.

Working out another new normal but these new rules are our gateway to the ultimate freedom - level 1.