As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, September 14

There are 15 new community cases of COVID-19 in the community - all in Auckland.

This comes as the super city wakes up to another day in alert level 4 lockdown after the Government announced there would be no changes to alert levels for at least another week.

However, Cabinet has made an in principle decision that Tāmaki Makaurau will then move to alert level 3.

The rest of New Zealand will remain in alert level 2 until next Tuesday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the status of the outbreak in Auckland at this point does still present risk and she wanted this week to be used "wisely" to continue surveillance testing.

What you need to know

  • Auckland is staying in alert level 4 until at least 11:59pm on September 21
  • Fifteen new cases were announced on Tuesday - all in Auckland - bringing the total number of cases in this outbreak to 953
  • Twenty-two people are in hospital, four of whom are in the ICU
  • You can see the latest locations of interest here - a SuperValue and pharmacy in south Auckland are the most recent potential exposure sites to be added.

These live updates have finished.

8:45pm - Two major testing sites in Auckland say they have the capacity to do a lot more COVID-19 swabs and urge anyone - even those without symptoms - to come forward.

There are currently 133 locations of interest. But this testing blitz isn't just about targeting people who have been to locations of interest.

In Ōtara, even people who are asymptomatic are being asked to come forward.

There were 7800 tests in Auckland in the past day - but it's not high enough. 

"We have the resources to do more," Ōtara testing site lead Michelle Tukia said. "We accept anyone that wants to come through for a test, we'll test them."

Read and watch the full story from Newshub's investigations reporter Michael Morrah.

8:15pm - Parents and schools are at loggerheads over moving the upcoming school holidays.

If things go as planned, Auckland could come out of alert level 3 and students be able to go back to school the same week the holidays are set to start. 

It's been four weeks of lockdown in Auckland and to say Tāmaki Makaurau parents are at their wits' end would be an understatement.

Many are calling for the school holidays to be brought forward, but the teachers' unions and principals' associations are strongly opposed.

"COVID has already brought around a huge amount of uncertainty - people have already made plans for the timeline ahead of us - and making last-minute changes isn't for the benefit of anybody," said NZ Education Institute president Liam Rutherford.

Read and watch the full story from Newshub's Tom McRae here.

7:45pm - The National Party's shadow treasurer Andrew Bayly is urging the Government to confirm a plan to support Auckland businesses during lockdown.

"The worst result is for businesses to fail from a lack of cash flow as a result of the Government's decision to impose crippling lockdowns across the country," he says.

"If businesses do go to the wall then potentially a significant number of people could end up on the jobseeker (unemployment) benefit. Some 50,000 people lost their jobs in the first lockdown and many are still on a benefit."

Bayly says there are six things National believes the Government needs to urgently do.

Confirm as soon as possible that the Wage Subsidy and Resurgence payments will continue to be paid to those qualifying companies at Level 2.5 or above

Implement immediately a Business Rental Support package to assist those companies entitled to the wage subsidy

Extend the COVID-19 temporary loss carry-back scheme to apply for the 2022 tax year

Ensure the Ministry of Social Development processes all wage subsidy payments within three working days for the self-employed and sole traders

Grant exemptions to Auckland businesses that manufacture critical building products that are supplied to the rest of the country to allow construction projects to progress

Implement a mental health programme for small business owners and their staff.

In the event that the Government imposes further lockdowns, Bayly says it must undertake contingency planning now.

"Because of the devastating effects of lockdowns, the Government must agree to protocols to allow some of the 250,000 construction and civil contractors workers to operate under a restricted arrangement during further level 4 lockdowns," he says.

"This would include a reduced number of people on sites and regular testing of workers. Building roads and houses is essential during the forthcoming summer months.

"Government also must determine how to allow different areas of cities, such as Auckland, to operate at different levels of lockdown rather than blanket arrangements covering areas unaffected or unlikely to be affected by COVID outbreaks."

7pm - The couple accused of flouting alert level 4 lockdown rules to travel to Wānaka can now be revealed after their name suppression lapsed tonight.

They are 35-year-old William Willis and his 26-year-old partner Hannah Rawnsley.

According to online websites, Rawnsley is a lawyer at Auckland firm Roddie Sim, while Willis is an equestrian and horse breeder who'd competed internationally.

The pair are accused of using their essential worker exemption to get through Auckland's southern boundary to Hamilton.

Read the full story here.

William Willis and Hannah Rawnsley.
William Willis and Hannah Rawnsley. Photo credit: Supplied

6:45pm - As New Zealand's oldest Thalidomide survivor, you can understand why Barry de Geest may have initially been hesitant to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Thousands of people were born with severe birth defects after Thalidomide was touted as a safe drug for morning sickness in the 1950s and '60s. 

"For me, it just brought back all sorts of memories of what it was like with the Thalidomide," de Geest told Newshub. "I was really reluctant, I was quite scared actually."

But he did his research on the Pfizer vaccine and on Tuesday he returned for his second dose. Wife Bronwyn rolled up his sleeve and the jab was done.

"It's done, it's all over," Barry said. "That's how quick and easy it is.  

"Please disabled people, please come down and get your vaccination."

Read and watch the full story from Newshub's health correspondent Lucy Warhurst here.

6:15pm - There are three new locations of interest. They are: 

  • Bus 325 from Preston Road to Dawson Road, Thursday 2 September from 11:45 am - 12:00 pm
  • No 1 Supa Value Supermarket Dawson Road, Thursday 9 September from 1:34 pm - 1:50 pm
  • Bus 5810 Dawson Road to Preston Road, Thursday 9 September from 2:31 pm - 2:45 pm.

5:45pm - Police say a group of mourners who gathered in west Auckland as a hearse passed following an online funeral were compliant after officers approached them.

A video, which was obtained by Newstalk ZB, shows a group of more than 50 people in a carpark. Inspector Glenn Baldwin of Auckland City West Police says they received reports of a gathering on Great North Rd in Avondale just after 12:30pm on Monday.

"Throughout our response to COVID-19, Police have continued to take a graduated response around the restrictions in place," he says.

"In this case Police were aware they were dealing with people visibly going through the grieving process.

"When approached by Police the group were compliant and dispersed from the area shortly after."

Insp Baldwin says they continued to monitor the area but there weren't any further issues. He adds police will review this event to identify any relevant offences.

"Police appreciate that these situations are difficult when people are grieving, but we remind the public that under alert level 4 gatherings cannot take place," he says.

"We ask people to continue to adhere to these restrictions for everyone's safety."

5:30pm - Jacinda Ardern says she has sympathy for flower growers unable to sell their product at alert level 4.

A protest was held by "fed-up flower growers" on the forecourt of Parliament on Tuesday who were frustrated their perishable crops are not allowed to be sold under the lockdown rules.

The organising group, Flower Growers Aotearoa, say the restrictions have forced them to destroy months of hard work and investment, with many "on the brink of ruin" as expensive spring crops go "straight to the compost". They say they've applied for an exemption to distribute flowers, which is currently being discussed by officials. 

"Whilst other sectors have been allowed to keep selling their products under strict safety protocols, flowers have been overlooked," said Rebecka Keeling from Slow Blooms in Matakana. 

"The definition of 'essential' seems arbitrary when supermarkets can keep selling beer, and liquor stores can home-deliver whiskey, but we’re not allowed to sell or distribute flowers at all."

Read the full story here.

5pm - Auckland Council says three more events in the city have been cancelled due to the lockdown.

These are: 

  • Stand Up Stand Out Final at Auckland Town Hall - September 25
  • Auckland Heritage Festival - October 2 to October 17
  • Ambury Farm Day - October 31.

Councillor Alf Filipaina, chair of the Parks, Arts, Community and Events committee, says it has been a difficult decision to cancel these events.

"We know how much Aucklanders love the events we put on. But we put their health and wellbeing first and given how contagious the Delta strain is, we didn't want to run these events until we were more certain of the future levels and when events can be safely run."

4:30pm - There are three new locations of interest. They are:

  • Z Petrol Station Manurewa, Tuesday 7 September from 3:00 pm - 3:30 pm
  • Bus 325 from Preston Road to Dawson Road, Thursday 9 September from 1:18 pm - 1:30 pm
  • Dawson Road Superette and Lotto Flat Bush, Thursday 9 September from 2:05 pm - 2:20 pm.

4:15pm - Police are reminding everyone that there are clear requirements for those who want to cross the alert level boundary.

On Monday, a man attempted to enter the Auckland region claiming to be going to collect a prescription from a pharmacy, police say.

Enquiries were made with the pharmacy he was reportedly driving to and this was not the case and the man was refused entry.

Police say there have also been several instances at the northern boundary where people have come to their attention trying to get around the rules.

In one incident, a 33-year-old woman was arrested after being located in Whangārei on September 6.

The woman was initially turned around at a checkpoint attempting to leave Auckland and was subsequently found in Whangārei after allegedly travelling on private property to avoid the checkpoint.

She has been charged with Failing to comply with the Health Order and is due to appear in the Whangārei District Court on September 23.

Police also arrested a 25-year-old man who was stopped on SH1 in Kauri and found to be in breach of his bail conditions.

It was found that the man had driven through the northern checkpoints from Auckland and into Northland after allegedly claiming to have changed his bail conditions and deliberately misinforming the officers.

He has been charged with Failing to comply with the Health Order and will be appearing in the Papakura District Court on October 4.

Police say they also attended a "concerning" incident at Takanini Pak'NSave where a security guard was allegedly assaulted after a woman refused to wear a face covering.

She became aggressive at the guard when she was offered a face covering, they say. The woman left the store and later returned to the supermarket with two other men.

The woman allegedly punched the guard and the two men chased the guard with weapons. Police were called and arrested two people in the nearby area.

A 26-year-old woman has been charged with assault and was also issued an infringement for failing to wear a face covering. A 33-year-old man, a patched Black Power member, has also been charged with assault with a weapon.

Both are expected to appear in the Manukau District Court at a later date.

4pm - Seventy-eight percent of people who have contracted COVID-19 during the latest outbreak have yet to receive their first dose of the vaccine, Dr Ashley Bloomfield revealed earlier today.

The latest data only accounts for the cases aged 12 and over - newborns and young children aged up to 11 are currently not eligible for vaccination. 

Speaking at today's earlier press conference, Bloomfield added that only 4 percent of cases in the outbreak aged 12 and over - those who are eligible for the vaccine - have received both jabs. Two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are required for maximum protection against COVID-19.

"I've got the numbers here for the total 955 people, but I then went and asked for them to take out the zero-to-11 [age group] because they're not eligible," Dr Bloomfield said. 

"But the headline percentages I gave before are up-to-date and based on just the 12-and-overs, and that is 78 percent of people - no vaccines - and just 4 percent fully vaccinated. That is they've had their second vaccine at least two weeks before they became a case."

Read the full story here.

3:30pm - Senior secondary school students will be eligible for support even if they haven't spent the full 20 days away from the classroom, the Ministry of Education and New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) have confirmed.

Schools outside of Auckland returned today, after 16 days in alert levels 3 and 4, meaning students would not have been eligible for Learning Recognition Credits (LRCs) to reflect the time spent away from the classroom.

"I can confirm those students will be eligible to earn Learning Recognition Credits at a rate of 1 LRC per 5 credits achieved through assessment, up to a cap of 8 LRCs at NCEA Level 1, and 6 LRCs and Levels 2 and 3," says NZQA chief executive Grant Klinkum.

"Although students in Auckland continue to do the hard mahi in lockdown, those who returned to alert level 2 this week have also been significantly impacted by the loss of 16 days of classroom learning time."

However, only students who have been disrupted for the full 20 school days will meet the thresholds for changes to endorsements and University Entrance.

3pm - The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is the remaining jab among the Government's pre-purchase agreements that is under review by Medsafe, with doses expected to arrive early next year.

The Science Media Centre asked experts to comment on how the Novavax vaccine works and its safety profile.

Here's what Dr Fran Priddy, executive director of Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand - Ohu Kaupare Huaketo, said.

How does the Novavax vaccine work? How is it different from the other three New Zealand-approved vaccines?

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine (NVX-CoV2372) is a protein-based vaccine. Protein-based vaccines have a good safety and efficacy track record and are used in adults and children to prevent diseases such as hepatitis B, pertussis, influenza, pneumococcal illness and meningitis.

They are typically given together with an adjuvant to boost the immune response and ensure both humoral (antibody) and cellular (T cells) responses. The Novavax vaccine is made from multiple copies of the SARS CoV-2 spike protein, formed into tiny particles (nanoparticles) and then mixed together with an adjuvant derived from tree bark.

It is given as an intramuscular jab like other COVID-19 vaccines, with two doses given three weeks apart.  After injection, the nanoparticles are taken up antigen presenting cells, which then display the spike proteins on their surface and stimulate the immune system to make antibodies and cellular responses.

What do the data show so far about its effectiveness and safety?

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine had a good safety profile and was 90 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 disease and 100 per cent protective against hospitalisation and death in large clinical trials in the UK, US and Mexico. These trials were conducted prior to widespread prevalence of the Delta variant.

There is no data on efficacy against the Delta variant yet, but lab testing showed that vaccinees have immune responses that also neutralise the Delta variant. In a study of people vaccinated with the Novavax as their primary series and then boosted with a third dose 6 months later, neutralizing responses to the Delta variant increased more than four-fold.

What is known about its potential use as a booster to the Pfizer vaccine?

There are two studies ongoing in the UK looking at several different regimens, including using Novavax with the Pfizer vaccine.

One study includes an evaluation of people who received one dose of Pfizer vaccine and a second dose with the Novavax vaccine as their primary series.

The second study is evaluating people who received both doses of Pfizer vaccine as their primary series and then a booster with Novavax full dose, or Novavax at half-dose. Both studies are evaluating safety and immune responses, and the data is expected in the very near future.

2:30pm - Over in Australia, New South Wales has recorded a drop in COVID-19 cases, with 1127 new community cases recorded in the past 24 hours and two more deaths.

In NSW, there are 1253 COVID cases currently in hospital. Of these, 231 people are in intensive, 104 of whom need ventilation.

2pm - National's COVID-19 response spokesperson Chris Bishop says while the party welcomes Ardern's comments that lockdowns can be avoided if as many people as possible are vaccinated, he's calling on her to be "honest with New Zealand" and give the conditions for when this can happen.

"The modelling is very clear. Every extra person vaccinated brings us a step closer to avoiding economically and socially costly lockdowns. Auckland is in our longest lockdown yet because the Labour Government did not put New Zealand first by making sure as many New Zealanders were vaccinated as quickly as possible," he says.

"The Prime Minister repeatedly said during the first half of the year that New Zealand did not need to vaccinate quickly because we were in a different situation to other countries, ignoring the reality that this situation was always likely to change.

"Aucklanders are now paying the consequences of the Government's decision to roll out our vaccine slowly, in the form of a long level 4 lockdown, because it is more difficult to stamp out Delta with a largely unvaccinated population."

Bishop says it isn't enough for Ardern to say that lockdowns will end when as many as possible have been vaccinated.

"Frankly, this could mean anything - what is 'as many people as possible' as a percentage?" he says.

"The Government should immediately set the target of 70-75 percent of New Zealanders vaccinated to avoid any further nationwide lockdowns.

"At this level of vaccination, we can stamp out COVID by using tools and techniques widely available in other counties, such as saliva testing, rapid antigen testing, aggressive contact tracing and if necessary, regional lockdowns as a last resort."

Chris Bishop.
Chris Bishop. Photo credit: Getty Images

1:50pm - There are two new COVID-19 cases that were found at the border. They are:

  • A person who arrived on September 9 from Serbia and Montenegro via the United Arab Emirates. They tested positive on day three routine testing
  • A person who arrived on September 10 from the United Kingdom via the United Arab Emirates. They tested positive on day two routine testing.

1:39pm - Ardern has ruled out "Bussy McBus Face" as the name for the vaccine bus.

She says she'll share something to social media to help encourage people to vote for a name.

1:33pm - On Monday, a total 54,877 vaccine doses were administered - 34,145 first doses and 20,732 second doses.

Ardern says there is capacity to vaccinate many more people than this. She urges everyone booked in and waiting for a vaccine to reschedule their appointment for an earlier date.

1:23pm - Vaccination buses are set to launch on Thursday in the Northern region.

There will initially be six buses on Thursday which will turn to 12 in coming weeks.

1:20pm - Ardern says there is nothing holding Auckland back in administering vaccines.

She said people should go make a booking as soon as they can. Chances are bookings can be brought forward to this week as there are currently 90,000 available spaces this week.

Ardern noted there are more than 100 GPs giving vaccines in Auckland and two drive through sites can do over 5000 a day across each site. No booking required.

1:18pm - Dr Bloomfield has issued a reminder that hospitals are safe and urged anyone needing emergency care "don't hesitate to go to the ED.

He said there are lots of protocols in place to keep patients safe.

Dr Bloomfield also made a shoutout to hard-working Auckland paramedics.

1:16pm - There has been a confirmed positive wastewater sample in Pukekohe - where four cases from quarantine have recently returned.

Anyone with symptoms there should get tested.

1:14pm -  Dr Bloomfield says surveillance testing of essential workers continues. A range of workers from a range of industries are being tested, including healthcare, petrol stations, supermarkets

Since the start of September, 15,685 essential workers have been tested and none have tested positive.

1:12pm - There are currently 22 people in hospital, four in ICU and require ventilation.

1:10pm - Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the fall in the number of cases was "encouraging". Even more encouraging is that none of today's cases are unlinked.

Monday's mystery case has also been linked, although there are still 10 cases in the last 14 days which are not linked to the cluster.

1:05pm - All of the 15 new cases are located in Auckland.

It brings New Zealand's total COVID-19 cases in the current outbreak to 953 (382 of whom have recovered); Wellington 17 (12 of whom have recovered).

Of the new cases, eight (26 percent) were infectious in the community.

1:02pm - There are 15 new community cases of COVID-19.

12:55pm - New locations of interest have been identified by the Ministry of Health.

They include: Dayspring Laundromat Papatoetoe, Unichem Dawson Road Pharmacy Clover Park, Chapel Downs Supermarket Clover Park, and Countdown Manukau City Mall.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, September 14

12:45pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will provide an update on the current COVID-19 outbreak at 1pm.

You can watch the livestream on or on Three.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, September 14
Photo credit: Getty Images

12pm - ACT Party leader David Seymour is calling on the Government to come up with "new and innovative" ways of testing New Zealand communities affected by COVID-19.

"Only around five thousand tests are being done a day. To know whether mystery cases are just bad luck or the tip of an iceberg, there must be tens, if not hundreds of thousands of tests," he said.

"The Government is not being proactive, instead hoping people will go out of their way to have an uncomfortable nasal pharyngeal test.

"The Government should be using the Mr Whippy business model for saliva testing, setting up mobile testing clinics in outbreak areas and allowing saliva testing there. 

"What would be even better, is mass issuing of point of care tests. These are used all over the world as a routine procedure, but not here."

He said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern needs to make testing easier and more appealing" to Kiwis.

ACT leader David Seymour.
ACT leader David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub

11:40pm - Discovery has announced Three's Dancing with the Stars NZ has been postponed for the second consecutive year, due to current COVID-19 alert level restrictions.

"This was a very difficult decision for everyone involved, but ultimately the right one," Darren Chau, senior director of production, said.

"The health and wellbeing of our cast and crew is our absolute priority, and in light of the current COVID-19 situation it is not possible, or responsible to proceed with filming the show."

The postponement brings forward a raft of other new programs including the world premiere of Sydney Harbour Force in October, the return of Australian Ninja Warrior and new to Three, Love It Or List It Australia

 Dancing with the Stars NZ will return in 2022.

10:40am - There are six new visit times added to the locations of interest - three of which are for SuperValue Flatbush.

The other locations are all in south Auckland suburb Clover Park: Unichem Dawson Road Pharmacy, Shum Fruit Barn, and Chapel Downs Food Market.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, September 14

10:25am - Robert MacCulloch says long lockdowns ultimately aren't sustainable and the Government needs to consider the mental health of Kiwis.

"The risk in my opinion is not so much just the billion-dollar cost a week of the lockdown - which is enormous. I think this time around the psychology is somewhat different - people's mood is somewhat more fragile. 

"Should the mood darken somewhat, that's what can start causing really enormous costs. I think the psychological effects are extremely important this time around. I think the country wants this to be a success - it's almost like our national pride is at stake. So I think that the extent to which the lockdown goes on, people become despondent - that's the biggest risk of all to the economy."

10:05am - Auckland University economics professor Robert MacCulloch says the Government needs to undertake cost-benefit analysis and "work out whether the costs of continuing the lockdown are outweighed by the benefits" of opening up.

"Since these lockdowns began, going back over a year-and-a-half ago, we haven't had a single cost-benefit analysis coming out of the New Zealand Treasury," he says.

"The Productivity Commission did a very short one, sort of back-of-the-envelope... and they estimated the cost per week of lockdown was around $1 billion. But that kind of analysis has been missing from the Treasury, and I'm not sure why."

Prof MacCulloch says it's "vital".

"My view is that none of us really can make a clear judgement on this until we have the numbers in front of us... what are the costs to livelihoods? People are concerned about their jobs and obviously their health as well... we want to know, do the costs outweigh the benefits or not?"

9:45am - Real estate prices have once more risen to never-seen-before heights, with the COVID-19 lockdown failing to curb demand and housing supply falling to its lowest level ever.

New data from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows house prices nationwide jumped again in August, with every region seeing a year-on-year increase from August 2020.

Median residential property prices across New Zealand increased by 25.5 percent from $677,400 in August 2020 to a record high of $850,000 in August 2021.

Read the full story here.

9:15am - Immunologist Graham Le Gros says he is feeling for Aucklanders who are entering another week of alert level 4 lockdown.

"New Zealand can't survive without Auckland actually working, and it's getting quite concerning, what you're being put through."

He told The AM Show on Tuesday that New Zealand has reached a phase where we should consider a different approach to elimination.

"We've reached a phase now - we've seen what elimination can do, it's been great up until now but moving on, we're always using elimination to get our vaccination up. 

"Jacinda Ardern said just right at the end of her meeting yesterday, we should put it as the first statement - let's get Auckland vaccinated now, by the end of the week. It's a pity you're in lockdown 4, rather than lockdown 3, because you can get more people out moving to get vaccinated. But we really need to get you guys vaccinated, 100 percent."

He says vaccination rates are "looking pretty good" at the moment.

"If we can just pursue with real vigour and innovation, get everyone who wants to be vaccinated, vaccinated, I think we're in good shape for learning how to deal with this virus. Because we see overseas you can't escape the virus - it changes too much."

8:50am - Two new visits have been added to the Ministry of Health's locations of interest.

Anyone who visited Mangere Pharmacy Mangere Town Centre on Saturday 11 September between 11:00 am - 11:15 am are being asked to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.

The second visit is to SuperValue Flatbush on Thursday 9 September between 2:07 pm - 2:15 pm.

Anyone who has been to either location at the specified time is required to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after you were exposed at this location of interest. If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until you get a negative test result and until 24 hours after symptoms resolve.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, September 14

8:35am - The AM Show host Ryan Bridge questioned the Prime Minister on what New Zealand's vaccine target is.

"The reason we've not given a specific number is because even if you say 'we want 80 percent', if you have only 60 percent in one part of the country, people will die in that part of the country," Ardern said. 

"All of us have a role to play in getting our rates as high as possible. My commitment is I do not intend to use lockdowns in the long-term. No one does, because we know the impact that it has. So there is a plan and a way out."

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, September 14
Photo credit: The AM Show

8:25am - Ardern is encouraging Kiwis to support friends, family, coworkers and other people to get vaccinated.

"As many of us as possible… we all have a role to play in our vaccination plans," she said. 

"If you are a business with employees, support them to be vaccinated. If they need information, help them find that information. If you're in a sports team or a member of a local community group, please work within those groups to support others to be vaccinated. 

"We've got, this week in Auckland, 220,000 spots available for people to be vaccinated - we want to use every single one of those. If you have booked for October take a look online, find a spot, bring it forward… that makes a difference for us in the future using lockdowns. 

"I don't want to use them in the future. I don't want to have to use them again. The more we get vaccinated, the less likely we'll have to do that."

8:10am - Ardern told The AM Show New Zealand is trying to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

"You just need to look around the world - some countries that have sat around the 70 percent mark - the US has been lower than that, in fact it won't be long I think before we [pass that] - what I think is we need to do better than those countries. 

"If we want to move away from using restrictions, there's actually only Denmark in the EU is the only country now that is only using border restrictions, and they're still using that. Even highly vaccinated populations are still using restrictions.

"So if we want to reduce those down as much as possible, we need as many people vaccinated as possible… Delta really only emerged in roughly June. We're only starting to see the stats around what it does around transmission of the virus. So there is an element of the whole world continuing to learn. 

Police check the documents of people heading across the Auckland border.
Police check the documents of people heading across the Auckland border. Photo credit: Newshub

7:50am - Ardern said in order to reduce COVID restrictions, New Zealand needs more people to be vaccinated. However she noted that some countries with high vaccination rates still implement restrictions.

Ardern also noted the Delta variant has changed the game.

"Yes, our view is vaccines replace lockdowns, but there is still having to keep a good eye on all our experts and what it more broadly means for every single country." 

7:42am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is now on The AM Show.

She started by thanking Aucklanders who are enduring another week of lockdown.

Ardern reiterated that the Government does not intend to use lockdowns in the long term - but for now we are trying to "eliminate while we vaccinate".

7:35am - The Auckland couple who used their essential worker status to leave the city and fly to the South Island have been granted interim name suppression.

The 35-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman drove to Hamilton Airport and then flew to their holiday home in Wānaka, police confirmed.

Newshub understands the man is the son of a senior official.

Charges are yet to be laid against the couple, but a district court judge has granted interim name suppression for 24 hours for the two people, NZ Herald reported.

It was granted to allow their counsel to apply to the High Court for suppression of a longer duration.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photo credit: The AM Show

7:10am - Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says two numbers will be important when deciding on the latest alert levels - the number of new daily cases and how many of the new cases are not linked to the outbreak.

He told Newstalk ZB on Tuesday most new cases at the moment are linked to other known cases which is encouraging, but there are still a few mystery cases which are concerning.

He said he is "cautiously optimistic" Auckland will still move down to level 3 next Tuesday.

6:50am - The AM Show host Ryan Bridge asked Bagrie how much the lockdown will cost New Zealand.

"Estimates can vary, but broadly speaking the Auckland economy is one-third of New Zealand; assuming Auckland is about 20 to 30 percent non-operational at alert level 4… the general number in regard to impact on GDP is slightly in excess of $1 billion," he said.

"The good news is that the Government is filling a fair bit of that void - they're pushing about $600 million a week into the economy, so that's a pretty big support payment that's offsetting that impact on GDP. 

"But the real impact on businesses is not the bottom line, it's not the impact on GDP, it's turnover. Turnover - sales across this economy - is in excess of two times GDP. So if you think about this through a sales impact on turnover, money coming in the door, it's probably costing the economy at the moment in excess of $2 billion a week."

6:30am - Independent economist Cameron Bagrie says the "cold hard reality" is that more businesses are going to struggle during the COVID-19 restrictions.

"It's not just the length - a lot of it is the uncertainty in regard to what it's going to be like out the other side," he told The AM Show.

"The Reserve Bank noted in their August monetary policy statement that living in a Delta world, maybe that's going to hit the productive capacity of the New Zealand economy which basically is a fancy way of saying this thing is going to have long and enduring impacts in 2022 and 2023.

"The big issue for business at the moment isn't just getting out the other side… but people are starting to think, what does the world look like over subsequent years and what is growth going to be like in certain sectors in particular?"

Bagrie said businesses are "down in the trenches" and is calling for the Government to provide some certainty of how restrictions will change once vaccination rates increase.

"At the moment they're down in the trenches, they're armoured up and doing as best they can, but they need to have a little bit of hope in regard to what are things going to look like, what level of vaccination do we need to be at before elimination basically goes out the door and we start to have that more balanced discussion between health, the economy and mobility.

"At the moment it's a one-sided transaction conversation in regard ot health, but at some stage - as we get vaccination rates up - we're going to need to know that 'magic number' so we can get some balance back into those discussion."

6am - The AM Show is about to kick off. Independent Economist Cameron Bagrie is on at 6:25am to chat about the impact of the extended lockdown on New Zealand's economy. At 7:10am, immunologist Graham Le Gros will be providing insight into the country's COVID-19 elimination strategy. Restaurant owner Krishna Botica is on straight after at 7:20am to talk about how the restrictions will impact the hospitality industry. Then The AM Show will talk to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at 7:40am for a COVID-19 update. She's also expected to be asked about the alert level changes, financial support for people and businesses struggling through the pandemic, and New Zealand's vaccine rollout.

You can watch the show here or on Three, or listen on Magic Talk.

5:45pm - University of Auckland epidemiologist Professor Rod Jackson says another week of alert level 4 restrictions in Auckland probably isn't enough to contain the latest COVID-19 outbreak.

Prof Jackson told RNZ's Checkpoint the Government's decision to extend the lockdown was the right one, “but I think they should have said: 'Unless Aucklanders are staunch, it’s going to be at least two weeks'."