As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, October 18

Auckland is staying in its current alert level 3 restrictions for another two weeks, while Waikato will have its level 3 settings reviewed on Friday.

Northland, which hasn't had any COVID-19 cases in the community so far connected to the two women who travelled through, is moving to level 2 at 11:59pm on Tuesday.

Auckland is currently in the first phase of the Government's three-step roadmap for the region, which allows up to 10 people from two households to meet outdoors with physical distancing and mask use. The roadmap was implemented to provide some respite for residents, who have now been in some form of lockdown for two months. The roadmap is designed to ease restrictions gradually, with further freedoms introduced under steps two and three.

Sixty new community cases have been recorded on Monday, 24 of which have yet to be linked to existing cases. Three of the new cases have been detected in Waikato and the remainder tested positive in Auckland. 

Vaccination rates received a welcome boost over the weekend following the Super Saturday vaccination drive on October 16. Eighty-five percent of eligible New Zealanders have now received their first dose, with 65 percent of the population aged 12 and over fully vaccinated. Nationwide, more than 130,000 doses were administered.

In Auckland, 89 percent of eligible residents have now had their first dose - a milestone Dr Bloomfield hailed as "brilliant news" on Monday. It's hoped the region will soon reach the crucial 90 percent target for second doses, which could see a significant relaxing of restrictions, Dr Bloomfield hinted to The AM Show - however, he noted that case numbers will also be a key factor.

What you need to know

  • Sixty new community cases of COVID-19 have been recorded on Monday, 57 in Auckland three in Waikato. 
  • Twenty-four of today's cases have yet to be linked to the outbreak - of the 36 linked, 18 are household contacts of existing cases.
  • One of the Waikato cases has been linked, while the two others remain a mystery.
  • The number of vaccinations given out during Super Saturday event has ticked over the 130,000 mark.
  • Two models have been dropped from their agencies after a large party took place on Auckland's North Shore on Saturday night. 
  • Auckland and Waikato are staying in level 3, and Northland is moving to level 2 at 11:59pm on Tuesday
  • Dr Ashley Bloomfield has called Auckland's vaccination milestones "brilliant news", hinting restrictions may soon be eased if the all-important 90 percent double-dose target is reached.
  • ACT leader David Seymour has proposed a $250 tax credit for Kiwis double-jabbed by December 1.
  • Dr Bloomfield told Breakfast health officials have "actively considered" an alert level 4 'circuit-breaker' in Auckland, indicating a return to total lockdown has not been ruled out.
  • A partially vaccinated staff member at Remuera Gardens Retirement Village has tested positive COVID-19 and was at work while infectious.
  • Click here for all the locations of interest.

These live updates have finished.

7:30pm - A man who allegedly hosted an infamous Auckland party at the weekend has been arrested and charged with breaching COVID-19 restrictions.

Footage from the North Shore party of a large group of young people was widely circulated on social media at the weekend, angering Aucklanders still locked down under alert level 3. 

Now a man has been arrested for allegedly hosting the party. Police said in a statement a 28-year-old man has been charged "with failing to comply with the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No.12) 2021".

He is scheduled to appear in the North Shore District Court on October 22. 

Read the full story here.

6:50pm - There are three new locations of interest. They are:

  • Countdown LynnMall, October 9 from 1pm to 2pm
  • Mobil Glendene, October 9 from 8pm to 8:15pm
  • Pak'nSave Mangere, October 14 from 5pm to 5:30pm.

6:30pm - Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford says the extension of Auckland's level 3 restrictions will be heartbreaking for business owners.

"While there is some limited good news today that Northland is moving to level 2 tomorrow, the brutal reality is that Auckland retail businesses continue to face uncertainty with no end in sight," he says.

"Most retail businesses are operating with almost no revenue coming in, while fixed expenses mount up. More Government support is desperately required by businesses if they are to survive, and it is pleasing that the Government will announce a new support package on Friday.  Retail NZ hopes that the package will be flexible with greater support for those businesses that are suffering the most."

Aside from financial support, a clear commitment to dates for allowing businesses to reopen is important, Harford says.

"Businesses, employees and customers need to be able to plan, and setting a clear date will create a sense of urgency for those still to be vaccinated," he says.

"All businesses also need certainty that they will not face a personal grievance from disgruntled workers if they implement a toolkit of measures, including vaccine or testing requirements for employees. An early announcement that this is happening will allow employers to help support the vaccination effort even more than they are now."

6pm - It's time for Newshub Live at 6pm for the latest on the COVID-19 outbreak. Watch online here or on Three.

5:45pm - National Party leader Judith Collins says there is "no hope on the horizon" after Auckland's lockdown was extended.

"People tuning into today's 4pm pronouncement from the podium were expecting some semblance of a plan about the pathway forward for Auckland. Instead, they got more of the same: announcements about announcements to come later in the week, and self-congratulation about Super Saturday," she says.

"All of this on a day spent by many Aucklanders on tenterhooks, after Dr Ashley Bloomfield publicly floated the idea of Auckland returning to a hard level 4 lockdown this morning - speculation about which the Government then allowed to fester all day."

Collins says a vaccination target needs to be set and Aucklanders need clarity, adding they shouldn't have to wait for another announcement on Friday.

"The Government is once again making things up as it goes along. The Government is utterly bereft of ideas, having spent the first six months of this year in self-congratulation mode, happy to have the developed world's slowest vaccine rollout and spending the COVID Response Fund not on contact tracing, saliva testing and boosting ICU treatment, but on art therapy and cameras on fishing boats," she says.

"Unlike Labour, National has done the thinking about a vigorous suppression strategy, where we work to minimise the number of COVID cases in the community but accept they will be there. We call on the Government to urgently scale up saliva testing capability, order vaccine booster shots and next generation COVID treatments, roll out rapid antigen tests particularly to essential workers crossing alert level boundaries, and urgently implement National’s specialist healthcare workforce migration plan."

Collins also adds the Government needs to "move heaven and earth" to roll out effective vaccine authentication as quickly as it can.

"It makes no sense to keep the hundreds of thousands of Aucklanders who are now fully vaccinated at home," she says.

"Likewise, the South Island remains at level 2 despite having no COVID cases for nearly a year. There was some rationale for this when only around 20 percent of South Islanders were fully vaccinated. But, two months on from the initial restrictions, many parts of the South Island have high rates of vaccination that should allow for an easing of restrictions."

5:30pm - Professor Nick Wilson, from the University of Otago's Department of Public Health, says it is wise the Government has kept the current alert level settings for Auckland and Waikato.

He says this will keep the suppression strategy working in Auckland to prevent the health system from being overloaded with sick people and potentially help achieve elimination again in Waikato.

"The move down to alert level 2 for Northland seems well justified given the community testing and wastewater testing results - so elimination is still working there. But it was a bit concerning that there was no announcement about strengthening internal borders around Auckland and the Waikato to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to other regions," Wilson says.

"The rest of the country needs more COVID-19-free weeks and months to build up vaccination levels. We need additional border controls such as vaccination requirements and a negative rapid antigen test result for those leaving Auckland and the Waikato.

"These types of measures would help us to replicate the success of those Australian states and territories which are also continuing with their elimination strategies - even while outbreaks occur in Victoria and New South Wales."

5:20pm - ACT leader David Seymour says Ardern needs to say what level of vaccination is required to move Auckland's alert level in two weeks.

"Ardern said that Auckland needs two more weeks at alert level 3, with current restriction levels, so the vaccine has time to 'take hold', whatever that means. A simple question for Ardern is what number does that mean?" Seymour says.

"Eighty-nine percent single dose does'’t cut it, so what does? Ardern is now saying she will announce a long-term plan on Friday, 67 days into an outbreak. She is making it up as she goes, and Aucklanders are paying the price of uncertainty.

"Either that, or Jacinda Ardern has the answer but won't tell. It's patronising command and control at its worst. Ashley Bloomfield, when asked for modelling of when Auckland would reach 90 percent, was arrogant in the extreme, telling reporters that it would reach 90 when it reached 90, before back-pedalling and still not answering the question."

Seymour says a "much better approach" would be to set a freedom day when Auckland will open up.

"The Government should simply say, you don't have to get vaccinated by December 1st, but it's highly recommended. That’s the day we lift restrictions."

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub.

5:10pm - The Restaurant Association has welcomed the announcement of an enhanced business support package.

"The Auckland hospitality industry continues to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic and it is time that our Government recognised this by providing financial relief that is specific and targeted to our sector," CEO Marisa Bidois says.

"One month ago, we presented our Future of Hospitality Roadmap to help our sector to reopen and recover. Wage subsidy and resurgence support payments are not enough - our businesses are on the brink and something more must be done.

"We have mapped out our plan for the future of the industry which includes a number of creative and practical solutions that would boost the economy and keep our businesses afloat. We are hopeful that Minister [of Finance Grant] Robertson has noted our feedback and has something designed specifically for our industry in Friday’s announcement."

The Restaurant Association’s new Future of Hospitality Roadmap has been designed to help businesses get back on their feet, Bidois says, by focusing on reopening, recovery, and sustainability.

"Whilst it's good to see Northland moving down the alert levels, we really do need to see more support for those parts of the country operating under greater restrictions and we look forward to hearing more about that this week."

5:05pm - The press conference has now finished. To briefly sum up:

  • Auckland is staying in its current alert level restrictions for another two weeks
  • Waikato will stay at level 3, with a review on Friday
  • Northland will move to level 2 at 11:59pm on Tuesday
  • a new alert level system, commonly known as the traffic light system, will be announced on Friday
  • Chris Hipkins will announce when schools will open on Wednesday.

5pm - On summer planning, Ardern says the Friday framework should help with that.

4:56pm - Dr Bloomfield says he isn't aware of any pregnant women who have COVID-19. 

He adds that very few hospital cases have been fully vaccinated.

4:51pm - Ardern says shorter stays and home isolation are part of the plan for Kiwis returning to New Zealand.

She says they will aim to do it safety and it is being brought forward.

She adds it is fair to say the "outbreak has caused us to bring forward plans we already had" and they don't want to unnecessarily seed new cases in the community.

4:47pm - There haven't been any positive COVID cases that attended Saturday's protest that have been reported to her, Ardern says.

Dr Blomfield adds he has great hope that there aren't, but he urges them, and any others who attended weekend social activities, who have symptoms to get tested.

On vaccines for five to 11-year-olds, the work is continuing, Dr Bloomfield says. Ardern adds that they can't act on it until Medsafe gives approval.

4:43pm - Ardern says if you want to reach a 95 percent vaccination rate, you would need 100 percent first dose.

4:42pm - Ardern says compliance is hard to model, so instead they're looking at the R value. 

An R value closer to 1 means a lower number of cases and it's easier to maintain lower cases. She says it has trended and come down a bit, and some R values are a bit lower than 1.2 to 1.3 at the moment.

Dr Bloomfield says modelling can't show the impact settings would have on the R value.

4:37pm - Ardern says the Government will recognise Kiwis who've been vaccinated overseas with other brands.

Dr Bloomfield says they are still working on advice about an alternative to the Pfizer MRNA vaccine.

4:34pm - On the advice Dr Bloomfield gave and a circuit breaker level 4, he says they looked at a whole range of factors and took views of public health units.

He says he decided that it's more important to try and get people to comply with the current level 3 rules.

4:33pm - Dr Bloomfield says Auckland will reach its 90 percent fully vaccinated rate about four weeks after first doses reach 90 percent.

4:31pm - Ardern says they are consulting on the traffic light framework.

She acknowledges there is a view to change the COVID approach.

4:29pm - On the Māori vaccination rate, Ardern says after hearing from feedback about barriers to Māori providers, the Government took action by bringing together DHBs, and other agencies.

She and Peeni Henare were part of those calls and they made changes to data sharing.

Ardern says she saw a Givealittle page fundraising page for Tairawhiti testing facilities, and says they shouldn’t have had to do that.

4:26pm - Ardern says the Government has been working on its new COVID Protection Framework, which is how the Prime Minister describes the traffic light alert system, for a number of weeks.

Dr Bloomfield expects Auckland this week will reach 90 percent for first doses. Thoes double-dosed at the moment is 71 percent.

In terms of trying to model how this rate will rise, Ardern says going off bookings isn't as effective anymore because of the change to time between doses.

4:23pm - Ardern says that looking at Australia that had long restrictions, it can reach a tipping point.

She explains that that's why they allowed outdoor gatherings so people can still have social contact.

4:21pm - On the North Shore party, Ardern says she hasn't seen the video but she's had it described to her.

She describes it as a blatant breaking of rules.

Ardern says she can understand fury over the party, but will let police do their job. No one should assume you can break the rules and not have consequences, she says.

4:19pm - Ardern was asked what makes her think Aucklanders will respond to level 3 rules for another two weeks when there have been compliance issues.

She says households mixing indoors is a contributing factor to the outbreak, and outbreaks are in parts of community where life is tough. She urges people to follow rules because "we don't just make them up".

4:17pm - Dr Bloomfield says Auckland is getting close to its "important milestone" of 90 percent, and Ardern adds that they need to keep up momentum with people getting a second dose of the vaccine.

On the circuit-breaker level 4 lockdown, Ardern says they always listen to advice from experts, and strong advice from public health was that level 4 would not necessarily make a significant difference to cases. But level 3, if followed, would make a difference.

4:14pm - For Friday's new alert level system announcement, the target of vaccinations will be high for New Zealand to move down the levels.

She wouldn't say the target today because it is still being worked through.

4:12pm - Ardern emphasises the indoor gathering rules, saying breaking them is a "risk to you and those around you".

She also acknowledges that more business support is needed, and says Minister of Finance Grant Robertson is working on enhanced business support package, with an announcement on Friday.

4:10pm - Auckland will remain at alert level 3 for another two weeks with its current restrictions in place.

4:09pm - Ardern says Auckland's lockdown has made a difference to keep cases low - only 4 percent of cases were fully vaccinated.

"If we get this right, it makes it easier to control COVID when we ease restrictions in the future," she says.

4:08pm - Waikato will stay at level 3, with a review on Friday

4:07pm - Northland will move to alert level 2 at 11:59pm on Tuesday.

4:06pm - There will be a few announcements this week, Ardern says.

On Friday, a new alert level system will be announced, and on Wednesday, Chris Hipkins will announce when schools will open.

4:04pm - Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield have arrived.

Ardern begins by paying tribute to Super Saturday, saying it "reminded us all that we are a team".

3:45pm - We are about 15 minutes away from the Government's announcement on the alert levels in Auckland, Northland, and parts of Waikato.

You'll be able to watch that announcement in the video at the top of this page or by following along with the written updates here.

3:10pm - Here is a compliance update:

Since alert level 3 came into place, 26 people have been charged with a total of 27 offences in Tāmaki Makaurau, Northland, and parts of the Waikato as of 5pm on Sunday.

Of these, 17 were for failing to comply with order (COVID-19), seven were for failure to comply with direction/prohibition/restriction, two were for assaults/threatens/hinders/obstructs enforcement officer and one was a Health Act breach.

In the same time period, 28 people were formally warned.

Police have received a total of 4717 online breach notifications relating to businesses, mass gatherings or people in Tāmaki Makaurau, Northland, and parts of the Waikato.

As of 11.59pm on Sunday, 725,209 vehicles have now been stopped at the checkpoints along Auckland's northern and southern border, with 9459 having been turned around.

On Sunday 10,258 vehicles were processed at the checkpoints, with 140 turned around.

Fifty-sex out of 1766 vehicles were turned away at the northern checkpoints on Sunday, while 84 out of 8492 vehicles were turned around at the southern border.

As of 11.59pm last night, 41,722 heavy vehicles have been stopped, 1213 of which have been turned around attempting to leave Tāmaki Makaurau - two were turned around on Sunday.

2:40pm - An alliance of iwi and Māori representatives says there are "very serious issues" with the Government's plan to introduce a traffic light system to manage COVID-19 in the community - and they have rejected the proposal.

The Government has been preparing the revamped system for life after lockdown. It's understood the strategy, which is based on various levels of risk in a highly vaccinated population, will replace the existing alert level framework.

Newshub understands the green light, or "prepare" phase, would be similar to alert level 1 with no masks required. It would be used when there are isolated cases of COVID-19 in the community.

The orange light, or "reduce" phase, would resemble alert level 2 and feature some restrictions, such a smask use. It's understood this stage would be implemented if there are limited active clusters in more than one area. 

The red light, or "restrict" phase, would see caps on gatherings, potential restrictions for inter-regional travel and hospitality businesses would only be open to vaccinated people.

The Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, told Newstalk ZB on Monday that more details are expected to be announced during the 4pm press conference.

But an alliance of iwi and Māori representatives, as well as rangatahi, hapū and iwi, health professionals, corporate organisations and respected legacy group Te Rōpū Wahine Māori Toko I Te Ora (Māori Women's Welfare League) and the NZ Māori Council have discussed the framework, saying they reject the proposal.

"After forming a position on the Government's Traffic Light model, a strong joint statement was presented to the Crown last night to make it absolutely clear that we reject the Traffic Light Framework," Mike Smith, the co-chair of the Pandemic Response Group representing the National Iwi Chairs, said on Monday.

Read more here.

2:30pm - Case numbers, testing volumes and vaccination rates will likely influence Cabinet's decisions on Monday regarding the current alert level settings - and it's looking good for Northland.

However, it's not looking so promising for Waikato or Auckland. 

"Let's just see," Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told The AM Show on Monday.

Northland has been in lockdown since October 9 after two COVID-positive women from Auckland travelled widely across the region with fraudulent travel exemptions. The women were uncooperative with authorities and due to uncertainty about their movements, the lockdown was extended last week. 

However, with no new cases in Northland and the two women in quarantine, there's a good chance the region could return to some form of freedom. Testing in Northland was relatively high last week, with 12,462 swabs taken - double that of the previous week. 

"The thing of course we've been concerned about is whether there has been any spread there that we haven't been able to identify because the people that travelled there, we're just not 100 percent sure of their movements and it's good we haven't seen cases so far, and that's obviously informing our advice to the Government," Dr Bloomfield said. 

"There are still some unknowns and we're just trying to get the balance right in our advice and Cabinet will consider that this afternoon."

But Northland's vaccination rate is lagging behind with 58 percent double-jabbed, compared to Waikato's 64 percent. However, that might not be enough for Waikato to return to alert level 2, with cases continuing to crop up in the region. Four were detected on Sunday and a further three were recorded on Monday. 

Here are the three things influencing the alert level verdict for three regions with different COVID-19 circumstances.

2:20pm - Police have launched an investigation into an Auckland party attended by a large group of young people on Saturday night. 

Waitematā North Police Area Commander Inspector Mark Fergus said police were called to a property in Redvale on Auckland's North Shore after reports of excessive noise in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

"A police unit attended the address after 4am to find the majority of the partygoers had since left," Inspt Fergus said. "Police spoke to occupiers and initiated further enquiries for follow up enforcement actions."

He said multiple 105 reports were received in relation to video footage of the party, which was shared to social media. 

"This footage is being reviewed and police are looking at enforcement options available for this matter. Police are disappointed this event went ahead given it is not permitted under the current restrictions."

Footage of the party has been widely circulated on social media, prompting outrage among rule-abiding Aucklanders who have endured lockdown restrictions for two months. Videos taken at the gathering show around 50 young people dancing, drinking and kissing.

Two models have now been dropped from their respective agencies after attending the party.

2:15pm - Another model who attended the now-infamous party on Auckland's North Shore over the weekend has been dumped by their agency for breaching alert level 3 restrictions.

Footage shared to social media showed a large group of young people drinking, dancing and kissing at the party on Saturday night, believed to have been held in the suburb of Redvale. 

As per the Government's three-step roadmap, only outdoor gatherings between two households with a maximum of 10 people are allowed under stage one. 

Earlier on Monday, talent agency Verano Management revealed in a statement that Charlie Wilson has been dropped from their books after it became evident the model attended Saturday's party.

On Monday afternoon, Kim Tiam, the owner of KAM Talent, confirmed Jaydn McCarthy has now been axed by the modelling agency after attending the event.

Tiam told Newshub the agency was "shocked to hear what had happened over the weekend". 

"This irresponsible and reckless act has consequences," she said. 

"We do not condone his behaviour at all and have removed him from our agency as of today."

Read more here.

2:05pm - Four new locations of interest have been identified in Auckland as of 2pm.

They are New World in Milford, Sal's Pizza in Royal Oak, Finlayson Liquor Shop in Clendon Park and Chatters Laundromat in Manurewa.

For full details and advice, click here.

1:50pm - If home isolation is to be successful, patients should ideally be monitored by their own primary care providers via their enrolled practice, says Associate Professor Lynn McBain, the Head of Department of Primary Health and General Practice at the University of Otago, Wellington.

She said keeping the care "local and personal" is likely to ensure the best engagement.

Last week, Health Minister Andrew Little announced that the vast majority of new cases will be required to recover and isolate at home if infection numbers continue to rise. 

"Primary care and general practice will have to be involved in the care of COVID-19 patients at home, and ideally patients would be monitored by their own primary care team (practice where they are enrolled). Keeping the care local and personal is likely to obtain the best engagement by both patients and health professionals. We at our practice (for example) see this as a professional obligation to our enrolled patients," McBain said on Monday.

"Robust systems for monitoring will need to be made available - there are some models from overseas that can be adapted to the New Zealand situation, and I understand that there is active work occurring on this.

"Concerns are the unknown numbers that may require monitoring, particularly if there are clusters/larger numbers in one area at the same time. Depending on how immunisations continue to track (less coverage among Māori/Pacific/disengaged populations), the care burden could disproportionately fall on the care providers for these groups. There are likely to be more challenges for those in rural areas. Funding will be required to support this."

New Zealand's health workforce is "limited", she added - and requiring more staff to actively manage COVID-19 patients will lead to reduced capacity for other healthcare.

"There will need to be an adaptable capacity to assist - possibly other health professionals from other areas where the infection rates are lower, possibly people employed solely for this purpose. The health workforce is limited and if more people are needed for COVID-19 management in the community, there will be less capacity for other healthcare."

1:40pm - Dr Maryann Heather, a GP and senior lecturer in Pacific Health at the University of Auckland, says "clear guidelines, good systems and [good] mechanisms" must be implemented if the vast majority of new cases are to recover at home rather than in managed isolation and quarantine facilities (MIQ). 

Last week, Health Minister Andrew Little announced that if case numbers continue to rise, the majority of new cases will isolate at home rather than entering MIQ.

Dr Heather said on Friday that moving to home isolation will require the primary care sector to once again take on the "huge responsibility of care in the community" - and the care of staff should also be a consideration for health officials.

"We need clear guidelines, good systems and mechanisms in place to allow this to take place. The planning, preparation, resources and involvement of multiple agencies at all levels is critical to the success of transition to community care. The COVID-19 journey from diagnosis to self-isolation and wrap-around services for support and well-being for the patient, but also the well-being of primary care staff should be a consideration," she said.

"COVID-19 is here to stay, and we must continue with public health measures and strongly encourage high vaccination rates in the eligible population so that we can continue to protect and reduce the impact of COVID-19 in our most vulnerable and at-risk communities like Māori and Pacific communities."

1:25pm - Attendees of the 2022 Auckland Pride Festival will be required to show proof of vaccination, Auckland Pride announced on Monday.

"While Auckland Pride's major events will be subject to the Government's mandate announced earlier this month, the festival is taking this additional and proactive step to keep our communities safe," the organisers said in a post to social media.

"The COVID-19 vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine that will protect our communities from serious illness, safeguard those who cannot yet be vaccinated, and prevent our immunocompromised whānau from being exposed as much as possible.

"We’'e made this decision to keep you safe, to keep loved ones who cannot be vaccinated safe, and to make sure we're doing everything we can to protect our communities. While we don’t have the level of detail that we'd like yet, our message now is simple: get vaccinated."

1:15pm - Here are the key points from Monday's update:

  • There are 60 new cases - 57 in Auckland and three in Waikato.
  • Twenty-four of these are 'mystery cases' and have yet to be epidemiologically linked to an existing case in the outbreak.
  • Twenty-five of the 51 cases reported on Sunday were infectious in the community.
  • Thirty people are hospitalised, five of whom are in the ICU or HDU
  • There are "ongoing" positive results for COVID-19 in wastewater samples collected across Auckland.
  • A staff member at Remuera Gardens Retirement Village in Auckland has tested positive for COVID-19 and was at work while infectious.
  • Of the three new cases in Waikato, one is linked to known cases. The other two have yet to be linked to the outbreak but interviews continue.
  • Two cases reported in Waikato last week and two cases recorded on Sunday also remain unlinked, however investigations are continuing.

1:02pm - Sixty new community cases of COVID-19 have been recorded today - 57 in Auckland and three in Waikato.

Here is the full press release from the Ministry of Health:

60 community cases of COVID-19; 5 new border cases; 89 percent of Aucklanders complete one vaccine dose 

There are 60 new community cases today; 57 in Auckland and three in the Waikato. As at 10am, 36 of these cases are linked - 18 of which are household contacts - and 24 remain unlinked, with investigations continuing to help determine their connection to the outbreak.



Number of new community cases


Number of new cases identified at the border


Location of new community cases

Auckland (57) Waikato (3)

Location of community cases (total)

Auckland 1,943 (1,350 of whom have recovered); Waikato 45 (3 of whom have recovered); Wellington 17 (all of whom have recovered)

Number of community cases (total)

2,005 (in current community outbreak)

Cases infectious in the community  

25 of yesterday's 51 cases have exposure events

Cases in isolation throughout the period they were infectious  

26 of yesterday's 51 cases

Cases epidemiologically linked

36 of today's 60 cases

Cases to be epidemiologically linked

24 of today's 60 cases

Cases epidemiologically linked (total)

1,841 (in the current cluster) (140 unlinked from the past 14 days)

Cases in hospital

30 (total): North Shore (5); Middlemore (12); Auckland (13)

Cases in ICU or HDU


Confirmed cases (total) *

4,696 since pandemic began

Historical cases

171 out of 2,881 since 1 Jan 2021



Number of active contacts being managed (total):


Percentage who have received an outbound call from contact tracers (to confirm testing and isolation requirements)

83 pct

Percentage with at least one test result

75 pct

Locations of interest


Locations of interest (total)

455 (as at 10am 18 October)



Number of tests (total)


Number of tests total (last 24 hours)


Tests processed in Auckland (last 24 hours)


Tests rolling average (last 7 days)


Testing centres in Auckland




Wastewater detections

Ongoing detections at most sites across Auckland

COVID-19 vaccine update


Vaccines administered to date (total)

6,344,212; 1st doses: 3,572,298 (85 pct); 2nd doses: 2,271,914 (66 pct)

Vaccines administered yesterday (total)

29,661; 1st doses: 6,253 2nd doses: 23,408


1st doses: 376,983 (66 pct); 2nd doses: 254,631 (45 pct)

Pacific Peoples

1st doses: 230,361 (80 pct); 2nd doses: 170,091 (59 pct)

Vaccines administered to Auckland residents to date (total)

2,294,199: 1st doses: 1,271,322 (89 pct); 2nd doses: 1,022,871 (71 pct)

Vaccines administered to Auckland residents yesterday (total)

11,259: 1st doses: 2,005; 2nd doses: 9,254



Registered users (total)


Poster scans (total)


Manual diary entries (total)


Poster scans in 24 hours to midday yesterday


New cases identified at the border

  • Arrived October 14 from the USA on a direct flight, tested positive on arrival
  • Arrived October 14 from Lebanon via UAE, tested positive on arrival
  • Arrived October 14 from India via UAE, tested positive on day two 
  • Arrived October 14 from Greece via a to-be-advised location, tested positive on day three
  • Arrived October 15 from the UK via UAE, tested positive on arrival.

*One case reported on Sunday has been reclassified as 'under investigation' as a possible historical case and has been removed from the case total.

Northland update

A number of testing sites remain open around Northland on Monday, including at the Three Furlongs Bar and Grill in Kaiwaka, on the boundary between Northland and Auckland. This site will also be open for testing on Tuesday.

Auckland update

A staff member at Remuera Gardens Retirement Village in Auckland has been confirmed as having COVID-19 and was at work while infectious.

Public health staff are confident the risk of infection is low but, as a precaution, testing is being arranged for all staff and residents. Both staff and residents at the village have very high vaccination rates.

Public health staff in Auckland are continuing to urge anyone who is moving around Auckland in alert level 3 to get a test if they have symptoms of COVID-19.

There are 19 community testing centres available for testing across Auckland on Monday. A full list of sites and opening hours can be found on the Healthpoint website.

Mobile surveillance testing of residential facilities is continuing, including emergency housing, transitional housing, boarding houses, motels and community housing providers. So far, testing has been completed at approximately 50 sites.

Waikato update

There are three new cases in Waikato. One is linked to known cases, while interviews and investigations are continuing to determine a link for the other two cases.

Investigations are also continuing to determine the links of two cases reported last week and two cases from Sunday.

Waikato DHB's website and Healthpoint have up-to-date information on community testing centres in the region. Pop up testing sites have opened in Hamilton, Whatawhata (west of Hamilton) and Kihikihi (near Te Awamutu).

On Sunday, there were 4020 tests undertaken in Waikato and almost 1489 doses of vaccine administered.

12:55pm - The Prime Minister must urgently rule out the Director-General of Health's comments this morning that lockdown restrictions are being actively considered for Auckland despite the Government saying only days ago there would be no return to alert level 4, says National Party leader Judith Collins.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield told Breakfast on Monday morning that officials had "actively considered" enforcing an alert level 4 'circuit-breaker' lockdown for Auckland and advice had been sought from public health teams.

"How can we have the COVID-19 Response Minister ruling out a return to alert level 4 one day and the Director-General of Health saying it is was being actively considered the next? This is descending into farce and the Prime Minister must come clean with New Zealanders," Collins said on Monday.

"Aucklanders are in their ninth week of lockdown with no end in sight and no certainty or reassurance from their missing-in-action Prime Minister, who clearly has no idea how dire the situation is in Auckland. Ambiguous musings about returning to alert level 4 from the Director-General of Health create a huge amount of stress and uncertainty for locked-down Aucklanders.

"If the Director-General of Health is going to be wheeled out on a Monday morning to set the scene for the 4pm announcement then he needs to get his lines straight.

"I'm calling on the Prime Minister to urgently release, in full, all the public health advice that the Government claims it is basing its decision on so we can have confidence in the decisions they are making on our behalf."

12:50pm - To recap, there is no 1pm press conference today. The Ministry of Health will instead release the latest developments via a written statement, which will be published here on our live updates.

There will be a post-Cabinet press conference at 4pm.

12:40pm - Remuera Gardens Retirement Village has been advised by Auckland DHB that a partially vaccinated staff member has tested positive COVID-19 and was at work while infectious, a spokesperson for the business confirmed on Monday.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) considers the risk of infection to be low for residents and staff at Remuera Gardens due to high levels of vaccination and the use of PPE.

As a precaution, all residents will have the opportunity to be tested. Staff are also undergoing tests, the spokesperson said.

Remuera Gardens can confirm that 98 percent of its staff and 96 percent of residents are double-jabbed.

"Remuera Gardens has communicated with all staff, residents and resident families, for those in its care home, advising of this situation and providing appropriate support."

12:35pm - Several new locations of interest and potential exposure events have been identified as of 12pm.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, October 18
As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, October 18

12pm - At a press conference on Monday, ACT leader David Seymour addressed Saturday night's now infamous party on Auckland's North Shore, calling for rule-breakers to "feel the full force of the law".

"Whether you're Brian Tamaki or an influencer from the North Shore, you're not above the law, and they should absolutely feel the full force of the law on behalf of all those people making massive sacrifices to follow the rules," he said.

"It's completely insulting to the rest of us to see people so blatantly breach them."

11:50am - Over 86 percent of the Southern population vaccinated after successful Super Saturday

Nearly 10,000 doses were delivered across the Southern District on Super Saturday, the Southern District Health Board (DHB) announced on Monday.

As of Sunday, 86.2 percent of the district's eligible population has now received at least one dose and 68.5 percent are fully vaccinated.

More than 75 vaccination sites operated across the district on Saturday, with many offering music, kai and giveaways.

By the end of Super Saturday, Southern DHB had delivered 9706 vaccinations - 2885 first doses and 6825 second doses. To date, 449,725 vaccinations have been administered in the district.

Southern DHB's COVID-19 vaccination programme lead, Hamish Brown, expressed his thanks to the teams across the district who worked hard to pull out all the stops on Super Saturday and to the councils, volunteer groups and businesses who offered their support.

"We were really pleased with the turnout and the atmosphere was incredible, with the public coming together as a community to get protected against COVID-19," he said on Monday

"This was a significant step towards our goal of reaching at least 90 percent vaccinated by Christmas, with about 11,000 people still to go to hit this target.

"We still have over 110 providers across the district operating weekly schedules,  undertaking workplace vaccinations and have outreach teams going into smaller communities.

"Planning is well under way with Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks and Gary Tong, Mayor for the Southland District, to deliver a 'farmgate tour' of Southland in early November, visiting an estimated 20-25 small communities to boost vaccination rates."

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, October 18

11:35am - Meanwhile across the Tasman, New South Wales has recorded 265 new cases of COVID-19 and five deaths, while Victoria has recorded 1903 new cases and seven deaths.

11:25am - A model and social media influencer has been dumped from her managing agency for attending Saturday night's now-infamous party on Auckland's North Shore.

As Auckland remains under alert level 3 and step one of the Government's three-stage roadmap, only outdoor gatherings between two households can take place with a maximum of 10 people. 

New Zealanders were outraged on Sunday after footage emerged on social media of a house party attended by more than 50 young people, who were filmed drinking, dancing on tables and kissing. 

As attendees were named and shamed on social media, most deleted their Instagram and Facebook accounts. 

But attendee Charlie Wilson, who has amassed more than 40,000 followers on Instagram, has now been dropped from her management agency after it received multiple tip-offs over the weekend. 

Verano Management posted on its Instagram Story on Monday morning revealing it was no longer representing Wilson. 

"We do not support or condone the events of the past 24 hours by anyone involved," the agency wrote in a statement. 

"Thank you to all for bringing the issue to our attention."

Read more here.

11:15am - ACT is proposing a new incentive policy, 'Vax Bucks', that would allow fully vaccinated New Zealanders to receive a $250 tax credit, party leader David Seymour announced on Monday.

"I hear every day from people who say, 'I've done my bit, followed the rules, paid my tax, and got my vax. When do I get a break?'" Seymour said.

"Vax Bucks will reward New Zealanders for doing the right thing and following the rules. If you've had the vax and paid your tax, you deserve some relief.

"The policy brings together three basic facts of life in New Zealand right now. One, we all need people vaxxed. Two, people getting vaxxed saves the taxpayer by staying out of hospital. Three, the Government just raised $13 billion more tax than the previous year."

The policy would reduce Government revenue by $1 billion and those eligible for the tax credit would need to be fully vaccinated by December 1, he said.

"When you file your tax return next year, proof of vaccination by My COVID Record will qualify you for a $250 vaccination tax credit. However, you can also redeem it at any time, even on the day of your second vaccination, to receive an additional $250 cash payment. If you redeem it early, your vaccination record no longer qualifies you to get the credit when filing.

"It would be a well-deserved boost for Kiwis who work hard and have done the right thing just before Christmas. The tax credit is a week's worth of groceries, a couple of tanks of petrol or Christmas presents for the kids."

ACT's David Seymour is proposing a $250 tax credit for all Kiwis double-jabbed by December 1.
ACT's David Seymour is proposing a $250 tax credit for all Kiwis double-jabbed by December 1. Photo credit: Newshub

11:05am - The Government would "certainly consider" another nationwide vaccination drive following the success of Super Saturday over the weekend, Associate Health Minister for Māori, Peeni Henare, told RNZ on Monday morning.

He said health officials would "certainly" consider holding another large-scale vaccination event to continue boosting national inoculation rates.

He told RNZ the Government needs to ensure it can "carry on [the] momentum" from Saturday, particularly among Māori - the group with the lowest rates of vaccination.

During Super Saturday, 10,825 Māori nationwide received their first dose, with a further 10,877 receiving their second dose - boosting Māori vaccination rates by a significant 5.4 percent since last Sunday.

Overall, 65 percent of the eligible Māori population, or 375,000 people, have now had their first dose - 250,000 are also fully vaccinated.

By ethnicity, Māori had the highest proportion of first doses on Super Saturday.

Henare said the possibility of another event will be discussed by Cabinet on Monday afternoon.

"[It will] certainly be something we consider today." 

10:55am - Waikato Mayor Allan Sanson says more cases of COVID-19 are expected in the region based on wastewater samples, which have tested positive for viral fragments. 

Four cases were reported in the region on Sunday and one was reported on Saturday.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Health said wastewater samples collected from Raglan continue to test positive for the virus. The ministry said the detections are due to "known cases in the area", however symptomatic locals are still encouraged to get tested.

“We knew there was something festering aware there… [we] also knew there was still family contacts within the same bubble who were yet to [test positive]," Sanson told RNZ's Morning Report on Monday.

"I didn't know what sort of numbers we’d be looking at … it's probably not unexpected. 

"We're only two weeks into our lockdown... [cases] still just keep popping up and they're quite frustrating to say the least."

Despite the new cases, Sanson said he is hopeful that Cabinet will decide to ease the alert level 3 restrictions, which currently apply to specific areas within the region - including Raglan, Hamilton City and Huntly. 

"I think we have to lower it sooner or later," he said, noting that people in Auckland, Waikato and Northland are "worn out" and "exhausted" by the ongoing restrictions.

"Somebody has to draw a line in the sand and say 'enough is enough'," he said. He suggested an obvious "line in the sand" would be setting clear and achievable vaccination targets.

10:50am - Here's an outline of what will happen on Monday.

Cabinet will convene this afternoon to determine the next steps for Auckland, Northland and parts of Waikato, which are currently at alert level 3. It will decide if any changes can be made regarding the current alert level settings. These decisions will be announced at a press conference at 4pm.

Therefore, there will be no press conference at 1pm. The Ministry of Health will instead release a written statement containing the latest COVID-19 case numbers and any additional developments. The statement is due at around 1pm and will be shared here to Newshub's live updates.

10:40am - The Director-General of Health says an alert level 4 'circuit-breaker' lockdown has not been entirely ruled out for Auckland, revealing the proposal was "actively considered" by health officials.

Both the Prime Minister and COVID-19 Response Minister have indicated that a return to alert level 4 in Auckland is unlikely - however, it appears the idea has been floated over recent days.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield told TVNZ's Breakfast on Monday morning that a return to alert level 4 - a 'circuit-breaker' lockdown - had been proposed and "actively considered", with advice sought from public health teams on the ground in Auckland.

"That's something that has been proposed... it's something we've actively considered and importantly I've asked for advice from my team, but also from the public health teams on the ground in Tāmaki Makaurau that's informed our advice to the Prime Minister," he said.

A return to alert level 4 in Auckland has been "actively considered", Dr Bloomfield said, and advice was sought from public health teams.
A return to alert level 4 in Auckland has been "actively considered", Dr Bloomfield said, and advice was sought from public health teams. Photo credit: Getty Images

10:30am - The Prime Minister is "out of touch" and must level with New Zealanders today, says Opposition leader Judith Collins.

The National Party leader is calling on Jacinda Ardern to provide a time-frame for when restrictions will end in Auckland and outline the conditions required for an alert level shift.

Earlier on Monday, the Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, hinted to The AM Show that restrictions could be set to ease significantly in the coming weeks if 90 percent of Aucklanders aged 12 and over get their second jab. Currently, 89 percent of the region's eligible population have received a first dose and 71 percent are fully vaccinated.

Collins says if that is the case, the Prime Minister needs to double-down on that target during the post-Cabinet press conference on Monday afternoon to provide some certainty for Aucklanders.

"The Prime Minister must today tell the country the conditions and time-frame for ending the lockdown in Auckland and then she needs to get up there and see for herself the fallout from nine weeks of lockdown," Collins said on Monday.

"This morning, during his weekly media rounds, the Director-General of Health suggested that restrictions couldn't be relaxed until 90 percent of Aucklanders were double vaccinated and that would be in four weeks' time. If that is the case, the Prime Minister must say so today and give Aucklanders and the rest of the country some certainty."

She also called on Ardern to pay a visit to Auckland to see first-hand the impacts of two months of lockdown.

"It is also time for the Prime Minister to visit Auckland so she can see for herself the damage to lives and businesses the lockdown is doing.

"The Prime Minister is free to travel as an essential worker like Police, health officials and other essential workers are already doing. She needs to get up there."

10:15am - Several new locations of interest and potential exposure events have been added as of 10am.

New locations of interest include Te Atatu Discount Superette, Countdown in Highland Park, Pizza Hut in Highland Park, Danny's Kiwi Bakery in Pukekoke and Seddon Foodmart in Pukekohe.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, October 18
As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, October 18

9:50am - The Director-General of Health is fending off criticism aimed at the Super Saturday vaccination drive by ACT leader David Seymour, who on Sunday berated the nationwide event as "fun, but desperate".

Through an array of strategies, gimmicks and encouragement from politicians and celebrities alike, more than 130,000 doses were administered nationwide on Saturday - but only 39,025 were first doses.

Speaking with The AM Show on Monday, Dr Ashley Bloomfield hit back at Seymour's criticism, saying the day was "incredible".

"[Seymour's] not raining on my parade," he said.

"I think what it was, was an incredible show of collective action, energy and commitment to getting ourselves vaccinated. And to get our total first dose rate up to 85 percent across the country… Tāmaki Makaurau just about cracking that 90 percent, I think that's an incredibly significant milestone.

"And we are still vaccinating - yesterday, today, we will be vaccinated throughout the week."

Read more here.

9:35am - The Director-General of Health has hinted that Aucklanders could see more freedoms in early December if 90 percent of eligible residents receive their second dose of the vaccine.

As of Sunday, 89 percent of eligible Aucklanders - those aged 12 and over - have received their first dose. It's hoped that when 90 percent have received their second dose, restrictions will ease significantly in the region, which has now been under some form of lockdown for two months.

Speaking with The AM Show on Monday, Dr Ashley Bloomfield called the 89 percent milestone in Auckland "brilliant news" - hinting the harshest restrictions in Auckland may be eased in time for summer if people continue to get their jabs. 

"It is brilliant news for Auckland and it just goes to show the hard work that has been put in. All the commentators are talking about 90 percent being a really important milestone, and I call it a milestone because we are not stopping there. Every percentage point above 90 actually makes a difference as well, but it will be a very important milestone for Auckland," the Director-General of Health said.

"We do know the modelling shows a 90 percent milestone is really important for being able to manage the cases in the community."

He noted that the decision whether or not to relax the restrictions in Auckland will ultimately be made by Cabinet, also taking into account the daily case numbers.

"That's Cabinet's decision - but that 90 percent vaccination rate is clearly a key milestone and will play an important part of the Government's decision-making." 

9:20am - From Tuesday, October 19, the Ara Institute of Canterbury (Ara) will be hosting a series of vaccination clinics at three of its six campuses in Christchurch and Timaru, with free bacon butties, burgers and prize draws on offer for participants.

"We know that our Māori and Pacific communities are the least vaccinated parts of our population. We also know that our rangatahi - but all young people really - have been the last on the priority list to get protected against this virus. Our 'by rangatahi, for rangatahi' movement with other community leaders will empower our youth to be the champions of their own destiny," Te Marino Lenihan, the executive director Te Tiriti Partnerships, said on Monday.

"This is our small contribution to wider regional and national efforts to vaccinate our communities. If we remain the least vaccinated, then we will be the most vulnerable and this is a serious risk for our whānau and their wellbeing. This is about whānau ora, making informed decisions, and being good ancestors."

8:55am - Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield told RNZ on Monday morning that current modelling indicates it will take Auckland just over a month before 90 percent of its eligible population is fully vaccinated.

Just over 70 percent of the region's population aged 12 and over is currently fully vaccinated, with 89 percent inoculated with their first dose.

Dr Bloomfield told RNZ Auckland's strict regional boundary will need to remain in place until vaccination rates have improved across the rest of the country.

Speaking to TVNZ's Breakfast on Monday, Dr Bloomfield said he thought New Zealand is doing "really well" in comparison to other nations, including Australia - but more work needs to be done.

He also acknowledged that public health officials have "actively considered" a 'circuit-breaker' alert level 4 lockdown in Auckland as case numbers continue to fluctuate - 41 and 51 new cases were recorded on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

"It's something that we've actively considered and importantly, I've asked for advice from my team, but also from the public health teams on the ground in Tāmaki Makaurau and that's informed our advice to the Prime Minister," he said.

8:40am - Here are the latest locations of interest as of 8am.

The Washington Apartments building site in Eden Terrace in central Auckland has been identified as a location of interest.

Another potential exposure event has been added for Countdown on Henderson's Lincoln Rd. 

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, October 18
As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, October 18

8:20am - Professor Michael Baker is urging people to continue adhering to the rules despite the "inevitable" fatigue after two months of stringent restrictions.

"I think that some fatigue is inevitable with eight weeks or more [of lockdown] in Auckland - they really are carrying the whole country at the moment because what happens in Auckland really does determine what happens elsewhere in New Zealand ultimately," he told Newshub.

"So I just really urge people to stick to the rules. After all you can actually enjoy many activities at alert level 3. Because some people are back at work, most of the economy is still functioning so it is actually achieving many of the benefits of alert level 4."

8:10am - Leading epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker says the Super Saturday vaccination drive was a "huge success".

"I also think the timing was very good because from what we have seen, and this is very common across the globe, is getting the first 80 percent of people vaccinated is still challenging - but the next 10 percent is harder," he told Newshub.

"Then you really have to overcome a few barriers that people have and this is really the area of vaccine hesitancy and for all of us, we know that sometimes we procrastinate and we need a nudge. I think that event did give people a nudge to get vaccinated.

"I think one of the great things about it was it shifted away from the individual... to doing it as part of your community. Another thing I thought was really positive is it was led by Māori and Pacific people and their community leaders... and young Māori and Pacific people were showing it was the right thing to do."

7:50am - The number of vaccinations administered during Super Saturday's vaccination drive has ticked over the 130,000 mark.

In a statement on Sunday afternoon, the Health Ministry said a total of 130,002 doses were given out across the country on Saturday, including 39,025 first doses and 90,977 second doses.

Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said the record-breaking numbers provided a "huge boost" to New Zealand's fight against COVID-19.

"People across the motu embraced Super Saturday like their communities' lives depended on it. It was inspiring to witness as we know the COVID-19 vaccine is key to our efforts to control the virus."

He said Auckland did "incredibly well" with 41,081 residents vaccinated across the region on Saturday, including 9039 first doses and 32,042 second doses.

"They've hit 89 percent of their eligible population who have had their first dose and are tantalisingly close to reaching 90 percent. I continue to urge everyone in Auckland who hasn't received their first vaccination to get vaccinated as soon as possible. And remember, we're not stopping at 90 percent - the higher, the better for everyone."

There has now been a total of 6,314,182 doses administered across New Zealand - 3,565,822 first doses (85 percent) and 2,748,360 second doses (65 percent).

Overall, 65 percent of the eligible Māori population - or 375,000 people - have now had their first dose and 250,000 are fully vaccinated.

7:35am - Speaking to Newstalk ZB ahead of his interview with The AM Show, Dr Bloomfield said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will announce details about the upcoming "traffic light system" on Monday.

He said health authorities are currently "working on the framework" for the strategy.

It's understood the 'traffic light system' will replace the current alert level framework when New Zealand's eligible population is highly vaccinated. 

It's understood the system will feature a scale of red, amber and green settings based on the level of risk posed by COVID-19 and vaccination certificates will play a significant role. Green would be similar to alert level 1, but with mandatory vaccination for large events - as previously outlined by the Prime Minister.

Amber would be similar to alert level 2, which might feature restrictions such as mandatory mask-wearing. Vaccinations could possibly be required for retail and hospitality businesses.

Red would be similar to alert level 2.5, with some limits on gatherings and possibly further vaccination mandates.

Cabinet will discuss the traffic light system on Monday.

7:20am - Dr Bloomfield has described the Super Saturday vaccination drive as an "incredible show of collective action, energy and commitment" to getting protected against the virus.

  • 85 percent of New Zealanders have now had their first dose
  • 65 percent of the population are now fully vaccinated
  • across the country, 10,825 Māori received their first dose and a further 10,877 received their second, which has helped Māori vaccination rates rise by 5.4 percent since last Sunday
  • 65 percent of the Māori population or 375,000 people have now had their first dose - 250,000 are fully vaccinated
  • by ethnicity, Māori also had the highest proportion of first doses on Super Saturday, with 50 percent of all Māori vaccinations being the first dose
  • 89 percent of eligible Aucklanders are now vaccinated with their first dose - 71 percent are fully vaccinated.

Dr Bloomfield called the figures "incredibly significant milestones".

He says experts have not been asked to provide the Government with further advice on mandates, noting that "we're still climbing" and "still making good progress".

Almost 90 percent of Auckland's eligible population has now been vaccinated with their first dose, which Dr Bloomfield called "brilliant news" and a "really important milestone".

"Every percentage point above 90 makes a difference as well."

Getting 90 percent of Auckland's eligible population double-jabbed will play a "really important piece of advice" regarding the relaxation of restrictions in the region, he said, but case numbers would also factor into Cabinet's decision.

He indicated that although Cabinet will make the final decision, it's looking positive that restrictions will significantly ease in Auckland once the golden 90 percent target has been reached - providing a "level of coverage" that manages the number of cases in the community and stops hospitals becoming overwhelmed.

He said experts are also working on advice for the Government regarding home isolation for fully vaccinated and tested returnees from overseas. That advice is "well in progress".

7:15am - Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield is staying tight-lipped on Monday's alert level decision, but acknowledged there are "encouraging signs" for Northland.

Cabinet will convene on Monday to discuss the next steps for Auckland, Northland and parts of Waikato, all of which are currently under alert level 3. The decisions will be announced at a 4pm press conference.

Dr Bloomfield said it's "encouraging" that no residents have tested positive in Northland, however health officials are concerned the virus could be circulating undetected in the community as they're not "100 percent certain" of the movements of recent cases who travelled in the region.

He noted there has been "a lot" of testing in Northland, but there are "still some unknowns".

"Let's just see," he said.

Regarding Waikato, Dr Bloomfield told Newstalk ZB prior to his interview with The AM Show that the new cases over the weekend could play a factor in the experts' advice to Cabinet this afternoon. He described the situation as "interesting".

He also referred to Northland as "promising".

7am - The Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield is on The AM Show at 7:10am. He's expected to provide an update on COVID-19 in New Zealand and talk about the Super Saturday Vaxathon effort to get Kiwis vaccinated.

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

6:35am - Over 130,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are administered during the weekend's Super Saturday event.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed a total of 130,002 doses were given out across the country.

This included 39,025 first doses and 90,977 second doses.

The Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the record-breaking numbers provided a "huge boost" to New Zealand's fight against COVID-19.

"People across the motu embraced Super Saturday like their communities' lives depended on it," he said. 

"It was inspiring to witness as we know the COVID-19 vaccine is key to our efforts to control the virus."

Read the full story here.