As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, October 26

There are 79 new community cases on Tuesday, with four of these being in Waikato.

According to the Ministry of Health's latest 1pm update, there were 10,660 doses of the Pfizer vaccine administered nationally on Monday, with just 4937 being in Auckland.

It comes as students in years 11 to 13 return return to onsite learning on Tuesday in preparation for exams. But not every school is opening their doors, with some saying their community is too vulnerable to have students back in large gatherings.

What you need to know 

  • There were 79 new cases on Tuesday, with 75 in Auckland and four in Waikato
  • Vaccines will be mandated for staff at any business where vaccine passports are required for entry
  • Students in years 11 to 13 in alert level 3 areas can return to school on Tuesday with a large number of health measures in place
  • The Deputy Prime Minister says vaccine certificates should be ready to go by the time Auckland DHBs hit 90 percent double dose
  • Auckland will remain at the first step of alert level 3 for at least another week, while Waikato is scheduled to be at the traditional level 3 until at least Wednesday night
  • The Government announced on Friday a new COVID traffic light system and beefed up financial support. Vaccine certificates will be used under the new traffic light system. 
  • Click here for all the locations of interest.

These live updates have finished.

9:10pm - About 40 percent of New Zealand's workforce will need to be fully vaccinated after the Government announced a sweeping vaccine mandate on Tuesday afternoon.

The compulsory vaccinations apply to businesses like hospitality, retail, hairdressers and gyms.

Basically if under the traffic light system the business uses vaccine passports then all staff will need to get two jabs.

The Prime Minister says if a customer has to be vaccinated, staff should be too. And she has signalled there could be more mandates to come for the public sector.

Read and watch the full story from Newshub political reporter Amelia Wade here.

8:40pm - Several Waikato mayors have banded together to call for the region's district health board to improve its vaccination drive and consult better with those on the ground.

Locals are increasingly frustrated that the region remains in the strictest version of level 3.

"We need to have a more coordinated approach," Waipa District Mayor Jim Mylchreest says.

"Councils are sitting waiting to help. We've got the local contacts, we can assist the hospital board - we are not being asked to."

He's supported by Ōtorohanga Mayor Max Baxter and Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson.

Read and watch the full story from Newshub's Karen Rutherford here.

8:10pm - One of today's positive cases is in the town of Waiuku, on the outskirts of Auckland.

But news of the case hasn't shocked locals, one of whom says it was "inevitable" the virus would reach them.

"It's just another day in Waiuku and life goes on," they told Newshub.

"It's everywhere, isn't it. It's going to go everywhere so the best thing to do is just get get vaccinated," another said.

Waiuku Health Centre announced its first positive test result today, saying it is a household contact of another recent case.

The swab was taken on Saturday. The person didn't enter the building but was tested outside in their car. All staff were wearing PPE.

The centre has increased swabbing capacity and says anyone who needs a test should book an appointment.

Clinical lead, Dr Lychhun Kouch, said they were twice as busy as usual today.

"We did roughly maybe 150 today, normally we do about 80."

He said everyone's thoughts are with the family.

Waiuku College had been due to reopen today but remained closed for now "to alleviate any stress and confusion in the community".

7:50pm - National's COVID-19 response spokesperson Chris Bishop says it's time to end "the lottery of human misery" that is MIQ.

"More than 100 people with COVID are isolating at home in Auckland right now, yet fully vaccinated travellers with no COVID have to spend 14 days in MIQ. This system makes no sense. It is unfair and illogical," he says.

"Data I revealed last week shows that fully vaccinated travellers to New Zealand present a negligible risk to the community, particularly a community with COVID already circulating. Just two out of thousands of fully vaccinated travellers to New Zealand have tested positive for COVID in MIQ on day eight or later since August 23."

Bishop says thousands of New Zealanders have been shut out of the country thanks to the "inequitable lottery" and the Government needs to make "substantial changes" to the system.

"A good place to start would be to implement National's plan of fully vaccinated travellers with negative pre-departure tests and negative post-arrival tests being allowed to either isolate at home for a week (from medium-risk jurisdictions) or be free to go without self-isolation altogether," he says.

"National's plan would allow thousands of Kiwis to come home for Christmas, reuniting families and boosting tourism and business.

"It's time to reopen New Zealand to the world. We can't remain stuck in isolation forever. It's time to start tearing down the barriers of Fortress New Zealand and bring Kiwis home."

Chris Bishop.
Chris Bishop. Photo credit: Getty Images

7:20pm - Professor Nikki Turner, director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre at the University of Auckland, says since New Zealand has chosen to have a broader vaccine mandate, this needs to work with balanced supportive strategic approaches.

She says international evidence for the effectiveness of vaccination mandates is mixed - if they are poorly directly, implemented in isolation, or without supportive community approaches in place, they are at risk of backfiring by polarising communities, creating entrenched attitudes and potentially marginalising further.

"It is vital that we continue to focus on genuinely listening to local communities and the range of reasons why some are not taking up vaccination options, and being compassionate to the historic and current reasons behind why some communities have lower trust and lower engagement with health services to avoid wherever possible further marginalisation," she says.

"The recently announced extra funding into local service delivery particularly for Māori communities is important to allow communities to create their own solutions with their own local health services. Successful immunisation uptake across multiple diverse communities is a complex balance."

6:45pm - Auckland hospitals may start discharging COVID-positive patients as the system reaches "tipping point".

The region's hospitals have been told COVID-positive patients can now be sent home as long as they can leave hospital without spreading the virus to others.

"The system is tipping into community management because of the high number of cases we're now seeing with COVID," says Royal NZ College of GPs medical director Dr Bryan Betty.

"If that continues to increase, this trend will continue so it is a very, very fast-moving situation at this point."

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

6:25pm - There are several new locations of interest. They are: 

  • New World Southmall, October 17 from 12:15pm to 1:40pm
  • Black Bull Liquor Albany, October 18 from 1pm to 2pm
  • Z Albany Service Station, October 19 from 10am to 10:30am
  • Rosedale Bakery & Cafe Albany, October 19 from 10:30am to 11am
  • Green and Grocery World The Avenue Albany, October 19 from 4:30pm to 5pm
  • FreshChoice Te Awamutu, October 19 from 4:39pm 5:15pm
  • Countdown Ponsonby Grey Lynn, October 20 from 5:25pm to 5:35pm
  • Countdown Greenlane, October 22 from 7pm to 9pm
  • East Tamaki Health Pharmacy, October 24 from 8:15pm to 8:30pm
  • Chemist Warehouse Henderson, October 25 from 8:56am to 9:15am.

6:10pm - National is calling on the Government to ditch vaccine certificates after 90 percent of the eligible population has been vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Judith Collins, who earlier on Tuesday said she supported vaccine certificates but also didn't want "two classes of people" in society, later added that she believes the certificates should no longer be required once 90 percent of the eligible population is jabbed.

"The National Party doesn't agree with the Government in their plan to impose restrictions with the mandatory use of vaccine certificates after we have hit their vaccine target of 90 percent across all DHBs," Collins said. 

"Once the target is achieved, National supports the existing rights of all private businesses to choose who they do business with. Some businesses will choose to require proof of vaccination. Others will not."

Read the full story here.

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

5:50pm - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says the Government's vaccine mandate is a practical step that will help keep the community safe as the city begins to open up under the new COVID-19 Protection Framework.

"Under the 'red' setting, businesses such as bars, cafes, restaurants and gyms will be able to open for up to 100 people only if all customers have vaccination certificates, so it makes sense to require staff to also be vaccinated," he says.

"This provides certainty for these businesses who have been seeking clarity on this matter, will help ensure that staff are safe at work, and will give Aucklanders confidence to shop, dine out, and enjoy all the things that make our city such a great place to live."

Goff says the requirement will mandate vaccines for around 40 percent of Auckland's workforce.

"A highly vaccinated population is the key to keeping people safe and will allow us to further reopen our community and return to life with fewer restrictions on businesses, gatherings, and events," he says.

"If you received your first dose more than three weeks ago, I encourage you to get your second dose as soon as possible - the health advice is that it is safe to do so. This will help bring us all closer to our target of 90 percent of the eligible population being double vaccinated.

"To those who are not yet vaccinated, I urge you to get it done now. It will protect your family, friends and loved ones from the virus, and will ensure that we can all move to a lower level of restrictions in time to enjoy festivals, concerts, sports and other events this summer."

Phil Goff.
Phil Goff. Photo credit: Getty Images

5:30pm - Dr Andrew Chen, a research fellow at Koi Tū - Centre for Informed Futures at the University of Auckland, says the vaccine mandate makes "a lot of logical sense" and there would be a negative impact on public health risks if people could be unvaccinated and work in these high-risk venues.

"It is clear that the proposed framework minimises infringement on essential rights by ensuring that vaccine certificates cannot be required for essential services like supermarkets and healthcare facilities. The human rights case for access to venues like gyms and hairdressers is significantly lower than access to essential services," he says.

"However, it is important that the Government does not get lost in a focus on increasing vaccination rates as the 'be all and end all', particularly with language around using mandates to incentivise vaccination (or disincentivise not being vaccinated)."

Dr Chen adds that vaccination is to reduce public health risk as the ethical basis on which these mandates are introduced.

"It is not just about individual rights, but also the rights of the community, not just from individuals getting sick, but also the demands on our healthcare system that everyone relies upon."

5:15pm - Retail NZ CEO Greg Harford says the greater certainty around vaccinations announced is a good thing for employers and employees.  

"Retailers are working hard to keep their people and customers safe, and most will be pleased that the Government is providing more certainty to businesses," Harford says.

"Across the broader retail sector, there will be businesses where vaccinations for workers are mandated by Government (for example, hairdressers, beauty therapists and grocery stores), and other businesses where employers need to undertake a risk assessment. More detail is required, and Retail NZ is keen to work with Government to ensure that there is real clarity around the risk assessment framework to be used. Retail NZ hopes that this will happen as quickly as possible."

Harford adds that Retail NZ also thinks it is important that the Government protects employers from the risk of legal action by disgruntled employees.

5:05pm - Vaccination mandates for workers in the hospitality industry will present challenges, but are welcomed, says the Restaurant Association.

"This is a tricky new area of employment law, and so ensuring that business owners are legally empowered to enforce vaccinations in workplaces is a positive step towards ensuring safe and healthy workplaces," says CEO Marisa Bidois.

In a September survey of its members, 40 percent of respondents indicated that they would be willing to put a vaccination policy in their workplaces while 25 percent were unsure.

"In our discussions with members, feedback has shown some concerns around enforcing a policy that could make employers liable for discrimination on the basis of vaccination status," Bidois says.

"Whilst mandating a policy is a welcome step towards helping to keep businesses safe and operational, there is still an ongoing concern around losing valued employees to the mandate.

"We need to remember that our industry is still suffering a skills shortage and so rolling this out is going to have to be carefully managed to reduce the risk of losing a percentage of our workforce."

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, October 26
Photo credit: Getty Images

4:55pm - A person tried to break into a MIQ facility in Hamilton on Monday night.

Joint head of managed isolation and quarantine Megan Main says a member of the public tried to access the MIQ Amohia facility without authorisation.

"The member of the public was observed inside the first of two perimeter fences by MIQ security using CCTV. When approached by MIQ Security and NZ Police the individual departed over the fence and fled. They were subsequently arrested by NZ Police," she says.

"They did not enter the facility and did not have any contact with anyone staying at the facility."

Police say the 34-year-old man has been charged with failing to comply with order (COVID-19), unlawfully being in an enclosed yard and breach of supervision conditions. He is due to appear in Hamilton District Court on Tuesday.

All staff that came into contact with the man were in full PPE, a spokesperson adds.

4:44pm - Ardern says the phased steps for Auckland still hold, and they are still looking at moving the city slowly through them.

She says they were designed at the same time the traffic light system was being made, and adds they are constantly assessing against the outbreak. They want to see impact of vaccines show some stabilisation of the outbreak.

4:43pm - Dr Bloomfield says he's heard stories of people getting vaccinated on behalf of others.

He says it's an unsafe thing to do because the information recorded won't be correct and it may compromise care for them in the future. But he doesn't think it is a big problem.

4:41pm - Ardern dodged a question about how it sits with her that people will get sacked for not being vaccinated.

She threw it over to Wood to answer, who says he's worked with unions for years and the mandate is about protecting workforces.

4:39pm - Dr Bloomfield says his advice has been on making vaccination easily accessible and trying to get rates up across workforces.

He adds the focus is now on vaccinating people who will be in contact with the public and present more risk.

4:38pm - Ardern says she hoped people would make the choice to be vaccinated themselves, but there are sectors where there are a small group where they are not, and fellow employees want confidence they can operate.

4:36pm - Ardern says there is such a drive to mandate the vaccine now because they've moved through each sector before implementing it.

She says it was based on priority, hence why it was first mandated for border workers.

4:33pm - Employers will need to consider if they can redeploy their unvaccinated worker, but after that, the four-week countdown will begin after the process has concluded, Wood says.

Also, Wood adds that officials are working "as fast as they can" to ensure the law change is in place in time for move to traffic light system.

4:31pm - Ardern has confirmed that November is when vaccine certificates will be available, before Auckland moves into the traffic light framework.

4:30pm - Wood says whether vaccine certificates will have sunset clauses will come under COVID legislation currently in place, which needs to be renewed periodically.

4:28pm - Wood says he’s been working with the Attorney-General on the mandate, and says the overriding view is that the mandate is appropriate and doesn't breach the Bill of Rights.

Ardern says they tried to strike a "careful balance" and were trying to be careful to ensure everything had a public health approach.

4:27pm - On whether vaccine certificates will be kept forever, Ardern says they could also be used in the future for the likes of booster shots to keep an up to date record of vaccine status.

4:26pm - Ardern says she is mindful of small businesses who might not have a big HR department to handle it all.

She adds that Cabinet wants to keep the traffic light system as simple as possible.

4:24pm - Ardern says we're nearly up to 90 percent first doses in some places, and the vast majority will be vaccinated. So she says it's all about providing clarity for the small amount who aren't.

The Government will provide more clarity to the likes of retail that aren’t mandated, if they want to enforce vaccine certificates.

Wood says there are already some employers using existing risk assessment framework, but they want something simpler.

4:21pm - Ardern says they aren't punishing the unvaccinated, instead, it's about safely opening up again "confidently" and she says the Government can't ask staff to be vaccinated and not staff.

People who do lose their job can access Government support.

Those who are unvaccinated will still be able to access basics like supermarkets and healthcare.

4:19pm - Ardern rejects that the Government has gone too far in mandating vaccines, and says they've been careful to assess areas that are high risk.

Across the total workforce, it could be up to 40 percent required to be vaccinated now.

4:17pm - Employees will also have to keep a record about their workers' vaccination status, Wood says.

There is also more funding for WorkSafe - $4.4 million - to extend work to engage and enforcement of the new rules.

4:15pm - Wood says to help protect our economic recovery, vaccination will be required if it risks blocking us from trading with overseas partners.

Additionally, a new four-week period of notice will be put in place for those who refuse to be vaccinated and lose their job.

This will be the start of a "countdown" the employee will then have so there's time to get vaccinated, but employment will be terminated if they don't do it.

To ensure there is time for people to get vaccinated, employers will be required to give their employees paid time off to get a jab, Wood adds.

4:11pm - Minister Michael Wood says confidence about the places we go is critical, so Cabinet has agreed to require vaccination of workers where businesses require proof of vaccination to open.

By mandating vaccination of both customers and employees, the Government hopes to bring confidence to system, Wood says.

4:10pm - Vaccinations will be mandated for staff at any businesses where vaccine passports are required for customers, including hospitality, events, gyms, and barbers.

She says this means staff and customers will be treated equally.

4:08pm - Ardern wants everyone to move into traffic light system as soon as possible to minimise the disruption of COVID, which means vaccine doses need to keep going up.

4:05pm - The Prime Minister and Dr Ashley Bloomfield have arrived.

Ardern says Auckland is not far from hitting 90 percent of first doses. She says this means businesses can open once they get their second doses.

If we have cases in the meantime, she says if you don't know where the case has come from, it's very likely there'll be level 3 restrictions.

3:45pm - In about 15 minutes, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is holding a post-Cabinet press conference.

You'll be able to watch that live in the video player above, or you can follow along with updates on this page.

3:35pm - The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners has been working with epidemiologists and infectious disease and vaccine experts to cut through misinformation that is circulating about COVID-19.

Dr Bryan Betty, the College's medical director says they have come up with seven "vax facts" about COVID-19 and the vaccine.

"As health professionals working on the frontline of the pandemic for the past 18 months, we have seen the devastating effects of the virus first-hand. We are committed to keeping our communities as safe as possible and is why we continue to highlight the importance of vaccination," he says.

The seven COVID-19 vaccine facts:

  1. So far, nearly five million people around the world have died from COVID-19
  2. As well as being deadly and highly contagious, the virus can have serious long-term side effects called long COVID
  3. Without the vaccine, almost everyone will get the virus.
  4. Those infected without being vaccinated are at least 20 times more likely to get dangerously ill. This is even higher for Māori and Pacific peoples
  5. Once administered, the vaccine is cleared from the body within a few days, leaving the body's defenses strengthened to fight COVID-19.
  6. If vaccinated, you are less likely to spread the virus to your whānau, friends and workmates
  7. The vaccine is FDA approved and safer than either the contraceptive pill or common pain relief such as paracetamol.

3:15pm - Labour Day marked one of New Zealand's lowest days for COVID-19 vaccinations since mid-July, as the country eyes the 90 percent target of double doses.

Just 10,660 total vaccines were administered on Monday - 3492 first doses and 7168 second doses. This is compared to 18,985 total vaccines on Sunday and 42,482 on Saturday.

Three district health boards (DHBs) have surpassed the 90 percent target for first doses - Waitematā, Auckland, and Capital and Coast - but none have reached it yet for second doses. Once all 20 DHBs have fully vaccinated 90 percent of eligible residents, then all of New Zealand moves away from the alert level system to a 'traffic light' strategy that utilises vaccine uptakes.

Auckland, however, will be able to move to the 'red light' zone once all three of its DHBs hit 90 percent double doses.

Read the full story here.

2:35pm - There are several new locations of interest. They are: 

  • St Pierre's Sushi Mt Roskill, October 21 from 3:30pm to 3:35pm
  • Unichem Dawson Road Pharmacy Clover Park, October 22 from 9:31am to 10:45am
  • Butter Chicken House Clover Park, October 22 from 9:37am to 10:45am
  • New World Whangaparaoa Stanmore Bay, October 22 from 12:30pm to 1pm
  • Countdown Whangaparaoa, October 22 from 12:45pm to 1:15pm
  • Mobil Blockhouse Bay Avondale, October 25 from 8pm to 8:15pm.

2:10pm - Here are the key figures from Tuesday's COVID-19 update:

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, October 26
As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, October 26

1:45pm - National leader Judith Collins says she supports COVID-19 vaccination certificates but also doesn't want "two classes of people" in New Zealand. 

In her opening remarks ahead of National's caucus meeting on Tuesday, Collins shared her concerns about a "two-class system and social disharmony", a reference to the vaccinated and unvaccinated. 

Her comments led to questions about National's position on vaccination certificates, which are expected to be available by next month. The certificates will allow vaccinated people to enjoy more liberties than those who choose not to be jabbed. 

Read more here.

1:35pm - Here's the vaccine data broken down by DHB and updated with Monday's figures.

Counties Manukau, which is lagging behind the other Auckland DHBs, still needs 11,020 people to get their first jab to hit 90 percent first dose. It did about 700 first doses on Monday.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, October 26
Photo credit: Ministry of Health.

1:20pm - There are no new cases in Northland, with the total there staying at seven. However, the ministry asks people in the region to "remain vigilant", get tested if they have symptoms, and monitor the locations of interest page.

Those in the North Shore suburbs of Redvale and Rosedale are also urged to get tested even if they have mild symptoms and/or are vaccinated.

"This follows high positivity rates of more than 6 percent in Redvale and 3.8 percent in Rosedale. This testing will help to provide assurance that any undetected spread of COVID-19 in these communities is identified as quickly as possible.

"New Lynn and Bayswater are no longer specific areas of concern however residents in these areas are urged to be vigilant for symptoms and get tested no matter how mild."

With regards to the Blenheim case, interviews with the person are ongoing.

"The person’s three close contacts, including two house household contacts, are due for further testing this week, following their initial negative test results over the weekend.

"It is important to reiterate at this stage there have been no further COVID-19 cases reported in the region."

1:15pm - The Ministry of Health says two previously reported case - one a community case and the second a border case - have been reclassified as no longer being cases. 

"There has been a decrease in hospitalisation from COVID-19 following a number of discharges over the weekend.  This reflects some instances where individuals were identified as having COVID-19 when presenting for other issues and were admitted for a short period while their other issues were managed.

"The average age of hospitalisations in the current outbreak is 45 years, however over the past fortnight the average age of hospitalisations is 38. This reflects a trend of younger hospitalisations overall, with only six percent of the 372 hospital admissions in this outbreak being amongst the 65 and over age group."

1:05pm - There are 79 new community cases in New Zealand, according to the Ministry of Health.

Four of these are in Waikato, in the Te Awamutu/Kihikihi area. The ministry describes these cases as "expected" and were already in isolation.

Thirty-three of the new cases are currently unlinked to the wider cluster, with 42 of Monday's 109 cases having been infectious while in the community.

The number of people in hospital is 37, up from 35 on Monday. Four people are in ICU or HCU.

Just 4937 doses were administered in Auckland on Monday, with 1410 being first doses and 3527 being second doses.

Nationally, 10,660 doses were administered, with 3492 being first doses and 7168 being second.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, October 26

12:50pm - The New Zealand Government appears set to announce an early Christmas present for Kiwis stranded overseas.

In an interview with Newsroom political editor Jo Moir, COVID Response Minister Chris Hipkins signalled the end of the requirement for returning New Zealanders to spend time in MIQ may be closer than expected.

"You haven't got much longer to wait,'' Hipkins said ahead of Cabinet's meeting on Tuesday where ministers will be considering a change in MIQ, meaning shorter stays in managed isolation, and for some, scrapping it all together.

Read more here.

12:40pm - Just a reminder that we will get a written COVID-19 update at 1pm, followed by a press conference with the Prime Minister at 4pm.

12:15pm - Facebook has removed a video by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro from its platforms, in which the far-right leader made a false claim that COVID-19 vaccines were linked with developing AIDS.

"Our policies don't allow claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people," a Facebook spokesperson said on Monday.

Read more here.

11:55am - Grant Robertson says the Government is urgently working to recognise COVID-19 vaccines other than Pfizer.

But the Deputy Prime Minister doesn't know how many recently-returned Kiwis may have received a jab overseas - meaning they're not recognised as vaccinated.

Read more here.

11:40am - A case of COVID-19 has been found in the small town of Waiuku, south of Auckland. According to the local health centre, the person was tested on Saturday.

Waiuku College won't be opening to onsite learning this week.

"The decision was made to alleviate any stress and confusion in our community and in this instance, had to prioritise the safety of our community over on-site learning."

Waiuku is within the alert level 3 boundary.

11:35am - Here is Monday's case summary:

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, October 26
Photo credit: Ministry of Health.

11:25am - School's back for senior students, with Auckland's pupils returning to the classroom on Tuesday for the first time in 10 weeks - however, not all schools have decided to open their doors, and there are rising concerns that vaccination rates are not as high as they should be to warrant the shift. 

Speaking to The AM Show on Tuesday morning, Melanie Webber, the president of the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA), said there are serious concerns about whether vaccination rates are high enough to warrant a return to the classroom.

"We're really worried those vaccination rates aren't where we're being told they need to be."

Read more here.

11:10am - Need a wrap of how COVID-19 is affecting other countries around the world? We've got you sorted.

Check out the latest on COVID-19 from around the globe here.

11am - We have four new locations of interest:

  • Bus 762 from Glen Innes to Orakei - Saturday, October 16 between 6pm and 6:30pm 
  • Caltex Dominion Rd - Wednesday, October 20 between 10:15am and 10:30am
  • Hillpark Bakery - Wednesday, October 13 between 10am and 10:10am
  • PlaceMakers Cook St - Friday, October 22 between 10:26am and 11:45am 
  • Bus 762 from Orakei to Glen Innes - Friday, October 15 between 2pm and 2:30pm

10:50am - The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners says it supports the 90 percent double dose target for each District Health Board and wants to see "the 90 percent target reached in the most vulnerable of our communities".

That's because, it says, Delta has "the potential to devastate Māori and Pasifika communities who have some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country".

"Data shows that Māori and Pasifika have greater health needs, increased levels of comorbidities and are often more vulnerable to illness. Improving vaccine equity will go a long way in the prevention of a health system overwhelm if the case numbers continue to rise.

"Vaccination rates around the country have dipped since the ‘Super Saturday’ events, which saw over 10,000 Māori receive a first dose of the vaccine. The announcement of a COVID-19 protection framework coming into force once these DHB targets are met, is a clear reminder about the importance of vaccination if we want to return to a new normal with more freedoms."

Dr Rachel Mackie, Chair of Te Akoranga a Māui, the College’s Māori special representative group, says additional funding for Māori providers announced last week will help them take "community and whānau-based approaches to vaccination".

"These health providers are well-known and highly trusted within their communities. Whanaungatanga is key to providing those who may still be unsure about the vaccine, the assurance and the support they need to take the step and receive their first dose."

10:40am - Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson is confident COVID-19 vaccine certificates will be ready to go once New Zealand's double dose targets are met.

Robertson said the Government was hoping to have the certificates, which will be accessed online via 'My COVID Record', ready by next month.

He told The AM Show a paper-based system could be used in the interim, in the worst-case scenario.

Read more here.

10:25am - On the question of whether people visiting the South Island should have to be tested, Collins says there would be "no problem" if rapid antigen testing was in place.

"Where is the rapid antigen testing? Where is it?"

People could take a rapid antigen test before getting on a plane or ferry to the South Island, she says. 

10:15am - Speaking to reporters, National's Judith Collins says more clarity is needed about when the traffic light system will kick in and then when it will be dropped. She doesn't believe the system is a plan, but a month-long extension to lockdown.

"It is frankly harrowing to hear so much suffering and heartache happening here in New Zealand," she says.

This could have been avoided if the vaccination rollout hadn't been so slow, Collins says.

"Kiwis deserve a lot better than the spin and nonsense they are getting at the moment."

She believes Kiwis should be able to come into New Zealand without going into MIQ if they are double-vaccinated, have negative tests before and after entering the country and come from a 'green zone' country.

10am - Deputy Prime Minister Grant Roberston denies the Government is dividing the country after Sir Dave Dobbyn called out "unkindness" directed at people who haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19.

New Zealand music icon Sir Dave took to Facebook on Sunday, declaring his own vaccination status but also condemning divisive behaviour against unvaccinated people.

Despite Sir Dave's comments, Robertson told The AM Show the Government's goal was to work with people who weren't vaccinated.

Read more here.

9:45am - Here's the vaccination rates broken down by DHB. Note that Counties Manukau is the only DHB in Auckland yet to hit 90 percent first dose.

The data includes doses administered up until Sunday night. Monday's figures will be provided later in the day.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, October 26

9:25am - Here are some of the key figures from Monday's COVID-19 update:

  • 109 new cases - 103 in Auckland, four in Waikato and two in Northland
  • 62 of the new cases were unlinked at time of reporting
  • 307 cases from the past 14 days remain unlinked
  • 25 of Sunday's 80 cases were infectious in the community
  • 35 people are in hospital, with five in intensive care
  • 18,985 doses were administered nationally on Sunday, 5335 first doses and 13,650 second doses
  • 7964 doses were administered in Auckland on Sunday, 1730 first doses and 6234 second doses.

9:15pm - The rise in cases isn't likely to slow anytime soon, one expert says.

"Everything suggests we're well into a growth phase at the moment with this outbreak. We've got a R-value of about 1.3, or a doubling time of around 10 to 12 days, and so we do expect to keep seeing these numbers going up," Dr Dion O'Neale, a lecturer and modeller at the University of Auckland's Department of Physics, told Newshub.

"Those numbers are going to continue to grow."

However, the more New Zealanders who are vaccinated, the slower the rate of transmission will become, he says, noting that vaccination is crucial to preventing numbers from getting as high as they otherwise might.

Read more here.

9am - No sooner than you thought all the talk of new COVID variants was over, there's news of yet another one: AY.4.2. But what is it, where did it come from, and should we be concerned?

AY.4.2 is what's termed a "lineage". These are labels given to branches of the COVID evolutionary tree to illustrate their relatedness. They are overseen by the diligent Pango network, a joint team of researchers from the universities of Edinburgh and Oxford, who act as the custodians of lineages and handle the assignment of new ones.

Read more here.

8:45am - New Zealand's target to vaccinate 90 percent of the eligible population against COVID-19 before moving to a new traffic light system is being described as a "pragmatic strategy".

The Government announced last week once every district health board in the country has fully vaccinated 90 percent of its eligible population, Aotearoa will move away from the alert level system to a 'traffic light' strategy. The decision to move parts of New Zealand out of lockdown has concerned some health providers, who say a lower uptake of the vaccine among Māori means they will bear the brunt of COVID-19 getting out of control.

Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson says the 90 percent target is a way for all of Aotearoa to work together  is "the best way" to go forward.

"Is it perfect? No, but it's a pragmatic way to go and we think we'll be able to really get Māori into this, particularly if we can give the resourcing and funding out there, which we tried to do from the start," he tells The Hui.

Read more here.

8:35am - There are two new locations of interest:

  • Countdown Auckland Metro - Saturday, October 23 between 3:50pm and 4:15pm 
  • Chemist Warehouse Auckland Lower Queen St - Thursday, October 21 between 5:01pm and 5:30pm

8:25am - Te iwi o Ngātiwai is calling for a shift to alert level 3 in Northland.

The eastern Northland iwi's chairman Aperahama Kerepeti-Edwards says he has written to the Government expressing "deep concern at the lack of action with the Delta outbreak" in the region. He said Northland has large, rurally isolated communities with low vaccination rates and a lack of resources. 

"Why have the Government been quick to abandon the hard and fast rhetoric?" asks Kerepeti-Edwards. "The Northland cluster is growing and in four days we have gone from two to now seven cases with twenty-seven close contacts. These cases are all rural Māori."

"We acknowledge the cases are all linked and isolating at home but given the level of risk it is still a huge concern for our people. It has been a long weekend with no real restrictions on travel across the region.

"Ngātiwai stands united with Ngā Iwi o Te Tai Tokerau calling for the Government to take a highly precautionary approach and move Te Tai Tokerau immediately to Alert Level 3."

He wants iwi inclusion in alert level decisions "as is our right as mana i te whenua through He Whakaputanga me Te Tiriti o Waitangi".

"Should any Ngātiwai fall victim to this outbreak via this Northland cluster, ka rongo koutou i te wehi o Ngātiwai!"

8:15am - There will be an update on the case and vaccination numbers at 1pm via a written release from the Ministry of Health. That will be followed at 4pm by a press conference featuring the Prime Minister.

There was no post-Cabinet press conference on Monday due to it being Labour Day.

8am - Students in years 11 to 13 are able to return to school on Tuesday at alert level 3, but some schools have made the decision not to open just yet, while others have no idea how many students will turn up.

That's the case for James Cook High School in Manurewa, where principal Grant McMillan said they have no idea how many of the 670 eligible students who could return actually will. 

"That's the million dollar question. We've planned for less than that; maybe a maximum of two thirds, but it could be as low as 115, 120, we just don't know yet," he told RNZ.

He said there were mixed emotions about getting the students back.

"Yes, there's an excitement about being back; it's really good to be able to reconnect with staff and students again but it is against a backdrop of level 3 and every family's having to make that decision for themselves as to whether their child comes back to school or not."

7:55am - A COVID-19 modeller thinks the Government should make it a requirement for those travelling to the South Island to first provide a negative test result.

The top of the South Island has had a Labour Weekend scare with an imported COVID-19 case from the North Island shopping at Blenheim on Friday. The unvaccinated person flew in from Rotorua and has links to Te Awamutu in Waikato where there have been about a dozen community cases recently.

Read more here.

7:40am - ACT's David Seymour says teachers should have had access to saliva testing to get results back quicker before returning to the classroom.

School is back at alert level 3 areas on Tuesday, but before returning, teachers must test negative for COVID-19. Seymour says many are still waiting for results.

"If saliva testing has been available for teachers, they’d have been able to have faster and more comfortable testing. Instead, many are still waiting for test results," he says.

"The Government’s slow uptake of saliva testing has let teachers down. Saliva testing is only available for border workers.

"Until just days ago the COVID-19 Saliva Testing website specifically stated in bright red writing 'Please note funded saliva testing is also not available to teachers (including early childhood centres.)'

"Despite teachers still not being eligible, that sentence has now been removed from the website after ACT alerted journalists to the specific omission of teachers."

7:25am - The Deputy Prime Minister is now speaking to The AM Show about the traffic light system and vaccination certificates.

Grant Robertson says we need to work with people who are not vaccinated yet and need support. But the population does need to be vaccinated for the country to move ahead safely. Those who aren't vaccinated will be able to access essential goods, but not all services.

The details of the vaccination certificates are being finalised and work is "progressing really well" towards dates in November. He is confident they will be ready by the time Auckland hits 90 percent. In the worst-case scenario, paper certificates could be used temporarily, he says.

The traffic light system will come into effect once the 90 percent double dose mark is hit. The Government won't wait until two weeks after when people are fully immunised, he says.

He expects Counties Manukau will hit 90 percent first dose in about a week and then the three DHBs should be at 90 percent double dose by late November.

If a blanket approach was taken with the 90 percent mark, some demographics and geographic locations see lower rates, Robertson says.

Regarding movement out of Auckland, Robertson says the hope is to allow travel over Christmas for the double-dosed, but it is a logistical challenge. He says it's important those DHBs outside of Auckland also get to 90 percent.

There about 22 WHO-recognised vaccines and experts in New Zealand are working through whether each of those will be recognised here or whether some may need a Pfizer booster shot. 

7:15am - Melanie Webber, the PPTA President, tells The AM Show she is "really concerned" about the return to school for senior students with "conflicting advice" from the Ministry of Education over the weekend. Some schools were still making changes to their procedures on Monday.

Getting students back to school is important, she says, but vaccination rates are not where they should be. Most teachers will be vaccinated, Webber says, but there is concern about the rates amongst students. While some students feel relieved to return, others are feeling "upset and panicked", she says. 

"It is worrying the speed at which it is happening."

Webber questions whether every senior student needs to return, or only those who most need to. Different schools are also running things differently, creating confusion.

6:55am - Those working on the frontline treating the majority of south Auckland's COVID-19 cases say they are in a race against time before more lives are lost to the virus.

"My big worry is that we're going to see a lot of deaths in people who shouldn't be dying. This is completely preventable to a large degree by vaccination, but we need to race to get people vaccinated, otherwise people will die," says Inia Tomash, an emergency department consultant at Middlemore Hospital.

Read more here.

6:45am - The National Iwi Chairs Forums Pandemic Response Group (PRG) says leaders in Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) want the region to return to alert level 3. It comes in light of seven COVID-19 cases there, two being new on Monday.

"The case numbers are increasing, and our people are not yet protected or anywhere near the 90 percent level of vaccination required to relax restrictions, yet the alert level is still at Level 2 in many regions," says Mike Smith, a member of the PRG.

He says as Māori vaccination rates are low, outbreaks will be concentrated within their communities. 

The group's chairperson Lisa Tumahi says the "decision is simple". 

"Vaccinate and restrict movement, or sacrifice Māori and Pasifika whānau to Delta. It's a runaway train unless there is a circuit breaker."

6:35am - There appears to have been no mad rush to get vaccinated in Auckland over the weekend, despite the announcement on Friday of a 90 percent double dose target.

On Saturday, 18,496 doses were administered across the region (4391 being first doses and 14,105 being second doses), but that dropped significantly on Sunday to just 7964 (1730 being first doses and 6234 being second doses).

Counties Manukau is the only Auckland DHB yet to get to 90 percent first dose. On Sunday, just under 700 people in the DHB got their first dose, with still 11,728 to go to hit 90 percent. 

In terms of second doses, Waitemata is at 76 percent, Auckland is at 81 percent ad Counties Manukau is at 73 percent.

6:25am - There's a big list of requirements for students and staff returning to school on Tuesday. There no longer needs to be bubbles of up to 10 students, but physical distancing of at least 1 metre should be maintained.

Requirements for secondary schools:

  • staff and children who are unwell must stay at home, and get tested for COVID-19
  • children at higher risk of severe illness remain home, where possible
  • staff who are not fully vaccinated and at higher risk of severe illness must remain home
  • mandatory mask wearing for staff and students in years 9 - 13
  • only essential visitors will be permitted onsite, and all visitors on-site will need to wear a face covering
  • good hand hygiene and cough and sneeze etiquette
  • classrooms to be well ventilated
  • high touch surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected each day
  • physical distancing will be adhered to wherever practicable, particularly between adults
  • physical distancing of two metres will be in place from people you don’t know
  • QR code posters for the COVID app will be displayed
  • a contact tracing register in place for everyone coming onsite including students and staff, through the attendance register, timetable and visitor register.
  • face coverings will be required on school transport for people aged 12 and over
  • time outdoors for students and staff will be maximised, including breaks, lunchtime, before and after school (unless the weather does not allow), and rooms will be aired during breaks
  • exercising and singing will take place outdoors
  • groups meeting indoors, including assemblies or staff meetings, will be avoided.

6:15am - Kia ora, good morning and welcome to Newshub's live updates for Tuesday. School's back for senior secondary school students in alert level 3 areas, who can return to class for the first time in months on Tuesday. It comes ahead of their examinations.

The AM Show will speak to Melanie Webber, the PPTA President, about the return at 7:10am, while deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson is also on the show at 7:20am.