The Government has released a roadmap to guide Auckland out of restrictive measures and grant greater freedom to residents, who are entering their eighth week of lockdown amid the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.
Although the region remains under alert level 3, the Government's three-step strategy will gradually ease restrictions to offer some respite to Aucklanders. From 11:59pm on Tuesday, the first phase of the plan will be introduced, allowing two households to socialise with no more than 10 people present. Gatherings must be held outside and people are required to maintain physical distancing and wear masks.
Under step one, early childhood education will resume from Wednesday and travel around Auckland for recreation or outdoor activities will also be permitted.
However, the roadmap has faced backlash from experts, political parties and the public alike, with many calling the new rules "confusing". Opposition leader Judith Collins and ACT leader David Seymour have panned the plan for its lack of clarity, with phases two and three yet to be given a definitive date. Experts have also agreed that transmission will likely increase under the new rules, with epidemiologist Rod Jackson saying the relaxed restrictions are too risky while vaccination coverage remains relatively low.
Meanwhile, the Government released a further 3700 managed isolation and quarantine rooms at midday via its 'virtual lobby' system, with dates available between October and January. A tweet shortly after 12pm showed the queue had already surpassed 20,800 users desperate for one of the coveted slots.
Twenty-four new cases of COVID-19 were recorded on Tuesday, 18 in Auckland and six in Waikato - including three which were reported on Monday. Seven of the cases have yet to be linked to the outbreak.
During the press conference at 1pm, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also went into detail about the Government's plan to introduce vaccine certificates next month. Vaccine passports will be mandatory for high-risk settings, such as music festivals and other large-scale events - the Government is still determining whether they will also be required for hospitality venues.
Employers and organisers who wish to introduce vaccine passports for their business or event will likely be able to do so, Ardern said, and the Government is currently working out a legal framework to allow this to happen. However, certificates will not be required for essential services such as supermarkets or healthcare.
A new website called 'My COVID Record' will soon be accessible to the public (the beta version is available here), which will allow individuals to access their vaccination records. Late this month, COVID-19 test results will also be added to the website.
The certificates can either be printed and carried as a physical document, or downloaded and shown on a device.
What you need to know:
- Auckland remains at alert level 3, but the city will move into phase one of the Government's 'roadmap to recovery' at 11:59pm on Tuesday
- As of Wednesday, Aucklanders will be able to connect with one other household outdoors with no more than 10 people - early childhood education will also return and people will be able to move around the city for recreation
- Twenty-four new community cases were reported on Tuesday - 18 in Auckland and six in Waikato, including the three household contacts of the Raglan case reported on Monday
- Seven of today's cases have yet to be epidemiologically linked to outbreak
- Parts of Waikato, including Raglan and Hamilton City, moved to alert level 3 on Monday for a preliminary five-day period
- About 3700 more MIQ rooms were released at midday
- Deputy PM Grant Robertson appears to have ruled out mandating vaccinations, telling Breakfast it's "not the New Zealand way"
- A vaccine certificate will be needed to get into large events this summer, from as early as November
- Testing stations are available in Raglan, Hamilton and Palmerston North and people with symptoms are urged to come forward to be tested for COVID-19
- Click here for all locations of interest.
A recap of the Government's roadmap for Auckland
Step 1: From 11:59pm on Tuesday, people will be able to connect with loved ones outdoors with no more than two households at a time and a maximum of 10 people; early childhood education will return for all; and people can move around Auckland for recreation such as beach visits and hunting.
Step 2: Retail will re-open, with the usual measures of masking and maintaining physical distancing; public facilities such as pools and zoos will also re-open; and the number of people who can meet outdoors will increase to 25.
Step 3: Hospitality venues will re-open - seated, separated and with a limit of 50; close-contact businesses, like hairdressers, will also re-open with mask-use and physical distancing; and gatherings will extend to 50 people.
Cabinet will review each phase weekly to ensure it's safe before confirming the introduction of the next step. The wage subsidy will continue to be available.
At this stage, schools will be able to return after the holidays on October 18, with the final decision to be made closer to the time.
The rest of New Zealand will remain at alert level 2, but the 100-limit cap on hospitality venues is removed. The requirement for customers to be seated and separated with physical distancing remains in place.
These live updates have now finished.
On Monday, Education Minister Chris Hipkins wouldn't say whether vaccination for schoolteachers would be mandatory... but signalled tougher rules will be introduced for those who haven't yet received a jab.
The president of the primary teachers' union, the New Zealand Educational Institute, Liam Rutherford, told RNZ's Checkpoint they are waiting for the government to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for teachers before they make a call on it.
"The advice at this stage is everybody should go out and get vaccinated and that's 100 percent the right move," he said. "And that's what we've been encouraging members to do. Talk of vaccine mandates hasn't come to light yet, so we're not calling for that."
6:40pm - Visits to Daily Cafe and Bakery Otara, Golden Dragon Takeaways Clover Park, BP Raglan, Ali's Turkish Kebabs Raglan, and West Liquor Westside Henderson have been added to the list of locations of interest.
6pm - It's time for Newshub Live at 6pm for the latest on the COVID-19 outbreak. You can watch that online here or by tuning in on Three.
5:50pm - An Auckland-based physiotherapist is urging the Ministry of Health to reconsider alert level 3 guidelines for opening some health services because there has been an "inequitable reopening" of businesses.
Yousif Mansour works at a private physiotherapy clinic in Auckland and hasn't been able to work throughout levels 3 and 4. He says because clinics can't reopen, the profession is facing mental and financial hardship and clients are facing worsened and delayed outcomes.
5:25pm - ACT has accused the Government of "dropping the ball" on antiviral medication to treat COVID-19, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says talks have been underway "for some time".
The political party's deputy leader and health spokesperson Brooke van Velden says the antiviral medication should be allowed in New Zealand once it has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"New drugs and COVID therapies are approved and coming on the market all the time. Once they have had approval from the likes of the FDA, New Zealand should just get on with it," van Velden said.
"Just because New Zealand dropped the ball on the vaccination rollout, it doesn't mean we can't come back in the second half and get this thing under control."
4:55pm - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has welcomed the Government’s announcement that vaccine certificates will be adopted and required at high-risk events from November.
"Vaccines are the most important tool we have to protect our communities from COVID-19 and help reduce the risk of further lockdowns," Goff said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Proof of vaccination status will provide more certainty for businesses and events organisers as we head into summer, and will reassure those who are attending and working at high-risk events."
He encouraged Kiwis to get vaccinated so they can enjoy activities including festivals and concerts over summer.
"I strongly urge everyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.
"To be fully vaccinated and fully protected in time for summer, you need to get your first dose this month. The best time to go is today.
"A high rate of vaccination is key to all of us being able to look forward to an enjoyable summer free from lockdowns and able to spend time with family, friends and loved ones."
4:25pm - New locations of interest visits have been announced, they are:
- Xpress Mart Flat Bush
- New World Ormiston
- Countdown Greenlane
- Panmure Fresh Supermarket (Wanjiafu)
- Countdown Kelston
- SuperValue Flat Bush
- Golden Dragon Takeaways
- Daily Cafe and Bakery
4:10pm - A 63-year-old man has been summonsed to appear in Auckland District Court next Tuesday in regards to the mass gathering in Auckland Domain last weekend.
Superintendent Shanan Gray confirmed the man will be appearing on charges relating to Breaching the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 and Alert Level 3 Order.
"The gathering of around 1000 people on Saturday was in breach of alert level 3 restrictions, which limit gatherings to weddings, funerals and tangihanga with no more than 10 people," they said.
"The investigation phase is continuing as Police consider further charges or enforcement action against others involved in the event.
"Police acknowledge that the taking place of this event was frustrating for our communities and we want to assure people that the Police response on the day was planned and based on operational assessments as is usual for an event of that size.
"Police decision making when it comes to these types of events will always be about community safety first and foremost."
3:45pm - Coastguard NZ is asking Auckland boaties planning to take to the water under Step 1 to take the time to ensure their boats are fully checked and prepped before they launch.
Aucklanders will be able to get out on the water for the first time in seven weeks for activities including fishing, sailing, scuba diving and jet skiing.
Coastguard said it is expecting high boating activity.
"For almost two months, boats in Auckland have sat idle which means boaties need to run a full check on their engines and batteries and replace old fuel with clean, fresh fuel," CEO Callum Gillespie said.
"Skippers should also double check the fundamentals of boating safety before launching – life jackets for everyone on boat, having two forms of waterproof communication and keeping an eye on local marine weather before heading out. Logging your trip with the Coastguard App is a quick and easy way to tell someone where you're going and when you plan to be back. It also helps to reduce traffic on the VHF Radio with our radio operator numbers limited with the current restrictions."
3:05pm - In case you are wondering why the Government's 'My COVID Record' system will not be incorporated with the existing NZ COVID Tracer app, Dr Andrew Chen, a research fellow at Koi Tū, says it's primarily due to privacy concerns.
On Tuesday, the Government revealed its 'My COVID Record' system, a website where users will be able to access their vaccine certificate and COVID-19 test results. The site is not yet publicly available, but it's likely to go live over the coming weeks. Vaccine certificates will be introduced in November.
"A separate technical system and app are being used to provide vaccine certificates, rather than incorporating it into NZ COVID Tracer. This is primarily because NZ COVID Tracer is anonymous and does not rely on being tied to your identity, so a vaccine certificate that is unique to you would compromise that privacy-protecting design," Dr Chen explained on Tuesday.
"Anonymity is also a requirement for using the Apple/Google Exposure Notification Framework which powers the Bluetooth Tracing part of NZ COVID Tracer."
Dr Chen says the accuracy of the vaccination certificates will depend on the integrity of the data in the COVID Immunisation Register (CIR), which is the central database of individuals and their vaccinations held by the Ministry of Health.
"There is a variety of information stored there (you can review the Privacy Impact Assessment here), some of which will be retrieved to generate vaccination certificates. The vaccination certificates are likely to follow standards set overseas, such as the EUDCC across the European Union," he said.
The Ministry of Health will then also release a 'verifier' app at a later date. The function of this app will be for employers, staff or organisers to verify the legitimacy of vaccine certificiates by scanning a QR code. This will be used to counter any fraudulent documents developed by unvaccinated people.
"The Government said this app would only show a status (such as a green check mark) and the person's name, and not include other information that may be embedded in the QR code or available in the COVID Immunisation Register," Dr Chen said.
2:50pm - To recap, a vaccine certificate will be required to enter large events this summer, such as festivals, from as early as November.
The pass will be mandatory for high-risk settings like music festivals and possibly some hospitality venues. The Prime Minister has ruled out their use for accessing essential services such as healthcare, supermarkets or dairies.
A new website called 'My COVID Record' will go live soon (the beta version is available here), which will allow individuals to access their vaccination records. Late this month, COVID-19 test results will also be added to the website. The certificates will be available to show on your device or download for a physical copy from November.
Professor Claire Breen from the University of Waikato's Faculty of Law says the system presents a precarious balancing act - and the Government must ensure citizens' civil liberties and human rights aren't impacted by mandating the certificates.
"Vaccine certificates raise a number of legal questions around civil liberties and human rights and will involve balancing various rights, such as the right to freedom of movement, the right to health, and the right to privacy, as well as the rights to equality and freedom from discrimination," she said on Tuesday.
"Current border closures and restricted movements within the country show these rights can be limited, but such restrictions must be justifiable. Equally, Te Tiriti o Waitangi must also inform such decisions so as to achieve equitable outcomes for Māori, in health and other areas that may be affected by the introduction of vaccine certificates."
2:40pm - One new location of interest has been added - McDonald's in Wairau Valley on Auckland's North Shore.
Anyone who was there between 6pm and 8pm on Saturday, October 2 is asked to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after the date of exposure. If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until a negative result is returned - and for 24 hours after symptoms resolve.
2:30pm - Following the news that the Australian government has agreed to purchase 300,000 courses of the promising antiviral drug molnupiravir, National's COVID-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop is urging the New Zealand Government to follow their lead.
Pharmaceutical giant Merck Sharp & Dohme says a clinical trial found the antiviral pill reduced the number of deaths and hospitalisations among COVID-positive patients - who took the drug within five days of developing symptoms - by 50 percent.
On Friday, Merck & Co. said it will seek federal approval for emergency use of molnupiravir in the US.
Earlier this year, Merck entered into a procurement agreement with the US government under which the company will supply approximately 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir, upon approval from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).
Merck has also entered into supply-and-purchase agreements for molnupiravir with other governments worldwide pending regulatory authorisation, it said, and is currently in discussions with other governments.
Bishop says the news is "incredibly encouraging" and should prompt the Government to also add molnupiravir to its arsenal - when the drug is cleared by regulators.
"There are a range of next-generation, game-changing COVID treatments being developed... but New Zealand is falling behind other countries in securing supplies of these exciting treatments. The United States has committed to purchasing 1.7 million doses of Molnupiravir alone should it receive FDA approval," Bishop said on Tuesday.
"These are treatments for people who have already got COVID-19 or who are showing symptoms. Our first line of defence is of course vaccination, but there is no doubt that New Zealand will want to access these treatments, which are increasingly being approved by regulators worldwide.
"The approach many countries are taking is to enter into advance purchase contracts with treatment manufacturers subject to regulatory approval. This means when approved the countries have quick access to the treatments.
"It is inexcusable that New Zealand is not doing exactly the same.
"The Government should get on with it. These treatments are potential game-changers and the last thing we want is for New Zealanders to get sick with COVID-19 and not have access to exciting new treatment options."
2:25pm - Meanwhile across the Tasman, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that the government has agreed to buy 300,000 courses of the promising antiviral drug molnupiravir - if cleared by regulators - which would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19.
Pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme said on Friday that the experimental treatment had halved deaths and hospitalisations among COVID-19 patients who took it within five days of developing symptoms.
People who are presenting mild to moderate symptoms need to take the pill twice a day for five days.
"There's still a couple of months to go on trials in the United States," Morrison said on Monday.
"These treatments mean that we're going to be able to live with the virus, so even in the unfortunate situation if you do contract the virus, then we will have the treatments to ensure that we can lessen these symptoms [and] reduce the chance of you ending up in ICU."
Neither the company nor the government has revealed any pricing details.
If given provisional approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), molnupiravir would join vaccines, the antiviral drug remdesivir and the antibody treatment sotrovimab in Australia's arsenal against COVID-19.
According to local media, the government expects the company to apply for provisional determination "shortly" and for the TGA to assess the drug late this year, potentially granting approval early next year. Shipments would also be expected to arrive early next year.
2:15pm - Here's a checkpoint compliance update:
Since alert level 3 came into effect, 11 people have been charged with a total of 11 offences in Auckland and parts of the Waikato as of 5pm on Monday.
Of these, eight were for Failing to Comply with Order (COVID-19), two were for Failure to Comply with Direction/Prohibition/Restriction, and one was a Health Act Breach.
In the same time period, 17 people were formally warned.
Police have received a total of 2353 reports online relating to mass gatherings or businesses or individuals breaching the rules in Auckland and parts of the Waikato.
As of 11:59pm on Monday, October 4, 462,782 vehicles have now been stopped at the checkpoints stationed along Auckland's northern and southern boundaries - 7069 of those vehicles were turned around.
On Monday, 21,692 vehicles were processed at the checkpoints, 212 of which were turned around.
A total of 47 out of 4544 vehicles were turned away at the northern checkpoints on Monday, while 165 vehicles out of 17,148 were turned around at the southern boundary.
As of 11:59pm on Monday, 21,089 heavy vehicles have been stopped and 764 were turned around after attempting to leave Auckland - 47 of those were turned around on Monday.
2:05pm - When asked about the criticism the Government's three-step roadmap has faced from experts, including Dr Siouxsie Wiles and Professors Rod Jackson and Michael Plank, Ardern emphasised that Auckland still remains at alert level 3.
"My job is to field the views of everyone," she says.
"I would highlight again, the announcement we made yesterday is that Auckland remains at alert level 3. We've not set out when Auckland will move to alert level 2... what we acknowledged was what everyone will have seen - that after seven weeks of some of the toughest restrictions that are applied globally, we haven't been able to get to zero at this point.
"So my job is to therefore set out what that means... we will continue to take a very aggressive approach with COVID, we always have and we will continue to do so, but also talking about the roles that vaccines can play if we're not going to use level 4 and level 3 in the future.
"Essentially what we have set out is what it will take for us to be in that position."
1:55pm - Red Beach is a new suburb of interest in Auckland, alongside Clover Park, Mangere, Favona, Manurewa, Mt Wellington/Sylvia Park, Henderson and Papakura.
A pop-up community testing centre in Orewa at Victor Eaves Park - enter via West Hoe Road - will be open today from 2pm to 6pm and tomorrow from 8:30am to 5pm.
1:48pm - When asked if shifting away from the elimination strategy will impact the phased plan to reopen New Zealand, Ardern said the Government has not abandoned its "stamp-it-out" approach.
"That implies we are not continuing to take that stamp-it-out strategy, and we are," she says.
Despite not achieving zero cases in the current outbreak, Ardern says that has had no impact on how health officials are treating COVID-19 - which remains the same as the beginning of the pandemic.
"What we've simply acknowledged is that seven weeks of very hard restrictions have not got us to zero, so we need to plan around that - but continue on with our very aggressive approach."
1:40pm - Here's the Ministry of Health's full press release for Tuesday:
24 community cases of COVID-19, including one historical; two border cases including one historical; more than 55,500 vaccines doses administered yesterday
Tuesday, October 5:
Number of new community cases*
24 (including one historical)
Number of new cases identified at the border
Two (including one historical)
Location of new community cases
Auckland (18); Waikato (6)
Location of community cases (total)
Auckland (including four cases in Upper Hauraki; all of whom are in the same household) 1,355 (1,068 recovered); Waikato 8 (1 recovered); Upper Hauraki 1; Wellington 17 (all recovered)
Number of community cases (total)
1,381 (in the current community outbreak)
Cases infectious in the community
17 (59pct) of yesterday's 29 cases have exposure events
Cases in isolation throughout the period they were infectious
12 (41pct) of yesterday's 29 cases
Cases epidemiologically linked
17 of today's 24 cases are linked.
Cases to be epidemiologically linked
7 of today's 24 cases. Investigations are continuing to determine a link.
Cases epidemiologically linked (total)
1,341 (in the current cluster) (18 unlinked from the past fortnight).
Number of sub-clusters
15 epidemiologically linked subclusters. Of these, seven are active, one is contained and seven are dormant. There are 14 epidemiologically unlinked subclusters. Of these, five are active, one is contained and eight are dormant.
Cases in hospital
32 (total): North Shore (4) Middlemore (14); Auckland (13); Waikato (1)
Cases in ICU or HDU
Confirmed cases (total)
4050 since pandemic began.
Historical cases, since 1 Jan 2021 (total)*
165 out of 2,234 since 1 Jan 2021
Number of open contacts being managed (total):
Percentage who have received an outbound call from contact tracers (to confirm testing and isolation requirements)
Percentage with at least one test result
Locations of interest
Locations of interest (total)
149 (as at 10am 5 October)
Number of tests (total)
Number of tests processed (total last 24 hours)
Number of tests taken in Auckland (last 24 hours)
Tests rolling average (last 7 days)
Testing centres in Auckland
No unexpected detections in the next 24 hours
COVID-19 vaccine update
Vaccines administered to date (total)
5,402,732; 1st doses: 3,343,447 2nd doses: 2,059,285
Vaccines administered yesterday (total)
55,673; 1st doses: 14,846; 2nd doses: 40,827
507,653 1st doses: 326,097 2nd doses: 181,556
339,343; 1st doses: 210,788; 2nd doses: 128,555
Vaccines administered to Auckland residents to date (total)
1,971,837 1st doses: 1,211,175 (85pct); 2nd doses: 760,662 (53pct)
Vaccines administered to Auckland residents yesterday (total)
20,796; 1st doses: 4,916 2nd doses: 15,880
NZ COVID-19 tracer
Registered users (total)
Poster scans (total)
Manual diary entries (total)
Poster scans in 24 hours to midday yesterday
Two of today's cases have been deemed historical – one is a community case and one is a border case.
As reported yesterday, wastewater sample collection has been arranged from locations within the Waikato and Manawatu-Whanganui regions. This includes Raglan, Huntly, Te Kauwhata, Ngaruawahia, Feilding, Hunterville, Tokoroa, Putaruru, Hamilton and Palmerston North.
Results of these are expected over the coming days, however the timing of the results depends on various factors including the sample arrival times.
Testing in Waikato
Waikato DHB has confirmed additional testing capacity today at its testing sites around the region as the teams continue to see unprecedented demand.
More than 6000 swabs taken from around the region on Monday are currently being processed.
Community testing centres are operating with extended hours today, with testing underway from 8am at the Hamilton sites. Pop-up sites remain open at Raglan and Huntly. All sites can be viewed on the DHB website, or at Healthpoint.
Limited exposure events in Waikato
Locations of interest associated with Waikato sites will continue to be added to the Ministry of Health's website as soon as possible.
Waikato DHB has not identified any locations of interest of significance in Hamilton at this stage. All potential exposure events have been direct interactions between individuals which have been followed up with directly.
The DHB has informed us that indications so far are that prior to receiving positive tests, the households affected had been following guidance on mask wearing and social distancing.
Auckland suburbs of interest
People with or without symptoms are asked to get tested if they live in any of the eight suburbs of interest.
The current suburbs of interest are:
- Clover Park
- Mount Wellington/Sylvia Park
- Red Beach.
Red Beach is a new addition to the list. A pop-up community testing centre in Orewa at Victor Eaves Park - enter via West Hoe Road - will be open today from 2pm to 6pm and tomorrow from 8:30am to 5pm.
Naumi Hotel worker
Whole genome sequencing has linked the recent positive result in the worker at Naumi Hotel MIQ facility to two recent returnees - therefore this is classed as a border case. There is an ongoing investigation into potential in-facility transmission including reviewing CCTV footage. All staff at Naumi have been swabbed again, in addition to their regular workplace testing. All results have been negative. The worker is currently in the Jet Park quarantine facility.
Auckland-based truck driver
Whole genome sequencing for the Auckland based truck driver who drove to Palmerston North has been completed, confirming the case is linked to one of the sub-clusters in Auckland.
1:34pm - Ardern says the Government is determining whether identity checks will be required when presenting a certificate - to ensure unvaccinated people aren't passing off passports as their own in order to gain entry to events.
A verification app may also be introduced to allow staff to scan a QR code to confirm the certificate is valid and not fraudulent.
1:22pm - Ardern says the Government is looking to mandate the use of vaccine certificates for large-scale events, meaning attendees are required to present their certificate to obtain entry.
In some circumstances it will likely be up to the employers or organisers, she says. The Government is considering a legal framework where organisers who would like to use the tool can do so.
Officials are working through three things, she says: firstly, the high-risk settings where certificates could be mandated; secondly, a legal framework where organisers or employers can implement certificates as a requirement within certain parameters; and thirdly, the settings where certificates cannot be used to ensure no essential services are withheld.
For example, summer festivals will likely require attendees to present a certificate.
1:18pm - The Ministry of Health's National Digital Services Group Manager, Michael Dreyer, has provided a demonstration of what the vaccine certificate site - 'My COVID Record' - will look like when it becomes publicly accessible.
Dreyer says the website will be made available soon - a report by Stuff earlier today said the website would likely be live in October, with vaccine certificates coming into effect later this year.
Within a few weeks, test results will also be accessible online, he said.
In November, the certificates will become available.
You will need a My Health account or Real Me login.
An app will possibly be released in January.
1:11pm - Cabinet has agreed to introduce vaccine certificates to provide "more certainty and safety" in high-risk settings, such as large-scale events, Ardern says.
The Government is consulting on the framework now, with more detail to come over the coming weeks.
They will be used as a tool to "lessen the risk in high-risk settings, including large-scale events", Ardern says. The Government is also consulting on whether they will be required in hospitality venues.
They will not be required to enter essential services such as healthcare or supermarkets.
The certificate will be a physical document you can download and print, or a digital form you can carry on your phone.
The framework will be released in advance of it taking effect and will likely to be introduced in November.
1:09pm - Ardern says the rate of vaccination, as well as the number of cases, means alert level 2 is not currently feasible for Auckland.
She reiterates that the Government's new roadmap is aimed at "carefully and safely relieving pressure on Aucklanders" while continuing to boost vaccination and fight the Delta variant.
"Auckland will still have [some of] the toughest restrictions among anywhere in world," she said.
The vaccine is a "ticket to freedom".
1:07pm - On Monday, 14,905 tests were processed, with more than 12,000 in Auckland.
Twenty-two community testing centres are open in Auckland, with additional testing capacity in Waikato today.
Waikato DHB has not identified any locations of interest "of significance" in Hamilton.
All potentail exposure events have been between individuals and followed up directly.
Some locations of interest connected to the new Waikato cases may be identified.
1:05pm - Of the 24 new cases, seven are yet to be linked to the outbreak. Of yesterday's cases, eight remain unlinked.
Three of the six Waikato cases are the household contacts of the Raglan case, which were made public on Monday.
The six Waikato cases are linked, Dr McElnay says.
There are 12 active sub-clusters.
Health officials are expecting an additional 48 cases among known contacts in the coming days.
1:04pm - Dr McElnay is providing the latest updates.
There are 24 new community cases today - 18 are in Auckland and six are in Waikato.
12:40pm - A reminder that we will be hearing from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay at the 1pm briefing. The PM is expected to give some details about a vaccine certificate.
You'll be able to watch that above and on Three.
12:25pm - One new location of interest just in:
- Bus #NB2155 Victoria St West to Triangle Rd - Tuesday, September 28 between 4:44pm and 5:15pm
12:20pm - Here are some more tweets from people attempting to get into MIQ:
12:10pm - No locations of interest have been identified in Hamilton so far after a person in the city's eastern suburbs tested positive over the weekend.
Riki Nia Nia, the executive director of Māori, Equity and Health Improvement at Waikato DHB, says this is "good news".
"We have not identified any public locations of interest of significance in Hamilton at this time. Potential exposure events have generally been direct interactions between individuals (or within workplaces) which we have been able to follow up on directly. In these circumstances anyone identified as a contact is called directly by Public Health. We are continuing investigations with those newer cases announced yesterday and will provide updates as this progresses," Nia Nia said on Tuesday.
"This is good news so far. With 6000 swabs taken on Monday, we should have a clearer picture emerging today on whether there has been any further community spread other than through these direct contacts between households."
Nia Nia said the lack of locations of interest is likely contributing to the extreme demand for testing.
"We have seen that when locations of interest are announced, this has reduced demand for testing as people have that reassurance of whether they [are at] risk and meet the criteria for testing or not."
Locations of interest identified in Raglan to date can be viewed on the Ministry of Health website.
12:05pm - A tweet from shortly after 12pm shows the queue for the 3700 MIQ rooms has already surpassed 20,800.
11:40am - An expert says it's likely there will be increased transmission under the Government's new three-step roadmap, which will make it progressively harder to keep the outbreak contained to Auckland - meaning New Zealanders should prepare for "the inevitability" of cases elsewhere.
Professor Michael Plank, from Te Pūnaha Matatini and the University of Canterbury, says the current rate of vaccination - 48 percent of the eligibe population have received their first dose - will "blunt the effects of the virus", but there is a long way to go before New Zealand achieves high coverage.
"Accepting that elimination isn't possible doesn't mean waving the white flag and letting it rip. Left to its own devices, the virus would spread like wildfire through our unvaccinated and partially vaccinated population, and risk overwhelming our healthcare system. So until the number of people fully vaccinated is much higher, we have no alternative other than to suppress transmission as much as possible. The Government will need to pilot a very tricky route that avoids overflowing hospitals."
Plank added that it may be necessary to adjust or tighten the restrictions to prevent the outbreak "spiralling out of control", in a similar vein to COVID-stricken New South Wales.
"The roadmap for relaxing restrictions is a reasonable approach... But it will be crucial to remain adaptable and responsive to changes in the number of cases and the healthcare demand they will generate. It may yet be necessary to adjust or tighten restrictions to prevent cases spiralling out of control," he said.
"The Auckland boundary will remain in place for now. But if, as is likely, case numbers continue to grow, it will become progressively harder to keep the outbreak contained to Auckland. The rest of New Zealand should prepare for the inevitability of community transmission. Regions that experience outbreaks may need to be put under restrictions like those in Auckland.
"While our vaccine rollout is still in progress, we remain extremely vulnerable to out-of-control outbreaks. The Government needs to pull out every stop to maximise vaccine uptake, particularly in Māori and Pasifika populations and other groups where coverage is low."
11:30am - With schools tentatively set to reopen on October 18 and early childhood education to resume on Wednesday, one expert says the best way to protect young people is by ensuring all eligible teachers, staff and students are vaccinated.
Dr Jin Russell, a developmental paediatrician and PhD student at the University of Auckland's School of Population Health, says the plan to resume education in Auckland is a "reasonable move", but not without a suite of measures - including vaccination.
"With the transition away from an elimination strategy, we are now confronted with the difficult decision of determining what is best for children at this moment," she said.
"When children are infected with COVID-19, they fortunately typically experience a mild or asymptomatic illness. Hospitalisation of children can occur but this is uncommon. Children with pre-existing health conditions are at higher risk of severe illness, similar to the pattern seen for other respiratory viruses.
"Overall, the plan to re-open education settings is a reasonable move. Overseas experience has shown the harm to children from prolonged school closures is significant...However, we need to immediately take steps to ensure that schools open in the safest way possible.
"The direction of transmission in school settings is first adult-to-adult, then adult-to-child, and lastly child-to-child. A report on COVID-19 transmission within schools and ECEs from Australia, analysing Delta data, found that infected children transmitted the virus to other children at school in only 2 percent of cases, while the likelihood of adults transmitting to children within school settings was greater.
"This means one of the best ways we can protect children and reopen schools safely is to aim for 100 percent of teachers and staff, and 100 percent of eligible students, to be vaccinated. Overseas experience also shows by implementing a suite of measures - including improving ventilation, taking activities outside, masking, and other measures - schools can drive the risk of COVID-19 transmission to very low levels."
Dr Russell says it would be a smart move to provide vaccination within schools for both eligible students and parents.
11:25am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay will provide the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak at 1pm.
They will be joined by Ministy of Health Deputy Director-General Data and Digital, Shayne Hunter and Ministry of Health National Digital Services Group Manager, Michael Dreyer.
11:20am - The Government's website for COVID-19 vaccine certificates is currently in beta testing mode, according to Stuff, with the digital certificates, or 'vaccine passports', expected to be introduced "towards the end of the year".
An internal Ministry of Health memo about the service was obtained by Stuff. The note says the site is expected to become publicly accessible in mid-October, with the certificates set to become available towards the end of the year.
The Government is expected to announce more details on its plan for vaccine passports at a press conference at 1pm.
11:05am - The three-step roadmap launched by the Government on Monday has sparked a significant reaction on social media, inspiring a slew of memes.
The plan comprises three stages, with the first kicking into gear on Tuesday night.
However, the large amount of information presented by the Prime Minister on Monday has left many confused, with many complaining the three-step system is vague and unclear.
"I've completely figured out Auckland's new level 3 roadmap," one person tweeted, alongside a GIF of Zach Galifianakis' The Hangover character attempting to calculate complex algebra in his head.
Another Twitter user posted a picture of Dora the Explorer choosing between three different bridges on one of her journeys.
"How I pictured the roadmap as she walked us through it: 3 levels but you have to progress through each one. If you fail, you are eliminated or go back to the start."
Blogger Martyn Bradbury described the plan as "less a 'roadmap' and more a goat track through Mordor", while one said the roadmap resembles "tossing together last-minute ideas in Microsoft Paint because they didn't have backup plan against all the angry media coverage over the weekend".
10:55am - In case you missed it, another 3700 managed isolation and quarantine rooms will be released at 12pm via the online 'virtual lobby' system.
Kiwis will be able to enter the virtual lobby at 11am and book dates between October and January - the first time people have been able to book for 2022.
The virtual lobby system, launched in September, has been designed to address inequities caused by bots and automated scripts.
Once people arrive in the 'lobby', users are randomised into a queue. The system then gradually allows people to enter the website to secure a room.
10:50am - Twenty-five 'red flights' from Australia to New Zealand have been released by Air New Zealand for January - in line with the release of around 3700 additional MIQ rooms at 12pm.
10:45am - Victoria has reported 1763 new cases of COVID-19 in the community and four additional deaths.
10:35am - A COVID-positive man who allegedly escaped an Auckland quarantine facility on Monday has been charged with kicking an enforcement officer in the face.
According to court documents, the man is accused of assaulting an enforcement officer by kicking her in the face during his alleged escape. The man is also charged with intentionally damaging a police vehicle and breaching the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act.
Police told Newshub on Monday the man had escaped from the Jet Park quarantine facility at about 3:15pm and was found about 30 minutes later outside a house on Kohindoor Ave in Māngere.
"The staff involved took all necessary precautions with PPE," a spokesperson said.
MIQ Joint Head Brigadier Rose King said an investigation is underway.
"The fact that someone has absconded from one of our facilities is a disappointing and unacceptable breach. We are investigating how this happened."
The man had been in the facility since Saturday.
10:15am - Here are the latest locations of interest as of 10am.
The new potential exposure events include a Raglan liquor store and several buses and Countdown supermarkets in Auckland.
10:10am - "The Prime Minister needed to do three things yesterday: admit her strategy wasn't working, propose a new one, and put the details on it - we're giving her a zero out of three," ACT Party leader David Seymour says.
Seymour has berated the Government's roadmap - which was revealed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday - as unclear, saying a definitive time-frame for the three steps should have been outlined.
"New Zealanders are tired of the uncertainty, we want to see the finish line - instead we're on a road to nowhere," he said in a statement on Tuesday morning.
"We're ready to open up to the world, get back to school, get back to business, regain our freedoms, and live our lives to our best potential."
ACT is calling for the Government to recognise that the elimination strategy is no longer feasible and instead shift to a 'harm minimisation' model; move to 'personal isolation' rather than regional or citywide lockdowns; get Kiwis stranded overseas back home for Chistmas; and shift from a singular focus on public health to an approach that maximises "overall wellbeing".
10am - The three-step roadmap has proved confusing for many, with questions raised about the logistics of outdoor gatherings and the enforcement of the rules.
The AM Show host Ryan Bridge, newsreader Amanda Gillies and fill-in co-host Nicky Styris put their understanding of the rules to the test in a game of 'roadmap roulette' on Tuesday morning - and were quickly bamboozled by the plan.
"What is more confusing? A) algebra, B) the US electoral college system, C) rocket science, D) this roadmap?" Bridge asked.
9:45am - Some doctors and nurses on the frontline of the COVID-19 response are concerned that easing the restrictions in Auckland will just fuel further transmission in the community.
Step one, which allows two households and a maximum of 10 people to socialise outside, took Auckland GP Api Talemaitoga by surprise.
"I thought, whoa, that's just fantastic - if they're all fully vaccinated," Talemaitoga said.
"But as we know, with our vaccination rates being low, it's just the potential to allow this virus to spread.
"It has shown us if we give it the opportunity, it will spread."
He is concerned about the impact that socialising will have on the outbreak - there is no cap on how many households a bubble can interact with, as long as there is no more than two at any given time and no more than 10 people present. This means a household could see a different group each day, or one after the other.
9:30am - National's COVID-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop has lambasted the Government's roadmap for Auckland as unclear and uncertain.
Speaking to RNZ's Morning Report on Tuesday, Bishop said the three-step roadmap is "not a plan, it's pathetic".
"I make more detailed plans for going out on a Friday night than the plans announced yesterday," he said.
The first step of the plan will be introduced at 11:59pm tonight - however, there is no clear time-frame for the following two phases.
Bishop suggested restrictions should be progressively eased to reward each vaccination milestone - and the greater freedoms should only be granted to those who are double-jabbed.
"We think there should be [an] explicit linking of vaccination targets to [loosened] restrictions," he said.
"There's got to be a reason to get vaccinated."
9:15am - Speaking to Breakfast this morning, microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles called on the Government to make vaccination mandatory for teachers.
Currently children under the age of 12 are not eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in New Zealand, meaning schools are likely to become hotspots for transmission if COVID-19 is carried in by a student or staffer.
"We know from the data overseas, if a teacher is infected and [is] not wearing a mask, then they'll transmit it to the students and the students will take it home," Dr Wiles said.
"Nobody should be working in a school if they're not vaccinated."
Although transmission is more uncommon among young children, the older the child is, the more likely it is they will pass on the virus, Wiles said - meaning primary, intermediate and high school settings could be hotbeds for infection.
She stressed the importance of masks and proper ventilation in the classroom, both of which could help keep children safe.
9:10am - An additional 3700 rooms in managed isolation and quarantine facilities will be released at midday via the Government's 'virtual lobby' system.
The rooms will be available to book between October and January.
Users will be able to enter the lobby from 11am.
Following a pause on bookings, the Government launched its controversial 'virtual lobby' system in September in a bid to counter inequities created by bots and automated scripts.
Once people arrive in the lobby, users are randomised into a queue. The system will then gradually allow people through the website to secure a room.
Today's release marks the first opportunity for Kiwis overseas to book a spot in January.
ACT Party leader David Seymour said the Government should have set a clear timeframe for the three phases, while Opposition leader Judith Collins called on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to admit the Government is shifting away from the elimination strategy.
"New Zealanders are not children, we no longer believe in Santa. It's time that we were told the truth, the elimination strategy is quite clearly dead," she said.
Te Paati Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said the roadmap doesn't account for the low rates of vaccination among Māori.
"This roadmap has been designed as if we have all arrived at the beginning of the track together, but we haven't," she said.
"Some of us aren't even at the beginning of this roadmap, so where is the mitigation for the well-known, highly publicised, highly recognised inequities."
8:50am - An Auckland business leader says businesses were "ignored" in the Government's roadmap to alert level 2.
Michael Barnett of the Auckland Business Chamber told The AM Show on Tuesday it wasn't much of a roadmap, with some of the "destinations… made up".
"If you have a look at phase one, I think business was absolutely ignored. What we got was brunch on the beach and a swim. And then phases two and three are vague promises - no dates and no conditions - under which we can move."
He said if the Government set criteria for moving through the steps - vaccination milestones or case numbers, for example - businesses could plan ahead accordingly.
"We've got none of that. Business, in fact, was ignored."
8:35am - No new locations of interest have been identified so far this morning.
The latest potential exposure events were added at 6pm on Monday.
8:25am - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says there "has to be a price" for people who choose not to get vaccinated.
Speaking to RNZ this morning, Goff said he had "no time" for New Zealanders who are actively encouraging others not to get vaccinated via their social media platforms.
Goff, who has previously acknowledged that vaccination is a personal choice, is now calling for the unvaccinated to pay a price for their decision.
He believes restricting the freedoms of the unvaccinated will serve as an incentive.
"If you can’t go to a rugby match or you can't go to a concert unless you show that you've been vaxxed, that's going to be an incentive," he said.
8:15am - Speaking to The AM Show this morning, disease modeller Professor Shaun Hendy said a "steady rise" in cases is likely over the coming months.
He believes the number of infections will increase gradually, rather than a rapid surge.
"We are expecting to see a steady rise in cases," he told The AM Show. "I'd expect to see a slow increase."
He added that the Government's cap on outdoor gatherings - a maximum of 10 people between no more than two households - will likely prevent super-spreading events.
He says New Zealanders should be prepared to see new infections "pop up around the country from time to time" - as evidenced by the recent cases in both Raglan and Hamilton East.
Some combination of restrictions will likely remain in place nationwide - for everywhere outside of Auckland - until the vaccination rate reaches the golden 90 percent the Government is aiming for, he said.
8:10am - Speaking to Breakfast, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson reiterated the relaxed restrictions are designed to give Aucklanders "a little bit of respite" without returning to large-scale events and gatherings.
"It's about making sure that we don't create those big events, those big gatherings," he said.
"Outdoors... this is a safe thing to do to give Aucklander a little bit of respite."
The primary elements of the elimination strategy remain in place, he said - contact tracing, isolating, and stamping out the outbreak. However, the strategy is shifting to ensure vaccinations are at its core.
8:05am - Speaking to Breakfast, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson appeared to categorically rule out mandating vaccination, saying it's not "the New Zealand way".
"Moving to mandating vaccinations would be a step far beyond where New Zealanders have been on any vaccine or any public health measure," he said.
"Moving to a mandate is not the New Zealand way."
He said the Government is still determining the role vaccine certificates, or vaccine passports, will play in their three-step 'roadmap to recovery'.
Last month, Robertson told The AM Show that vaccine passports were likely to be introduced sometime in early November.
"This is an exercise where we desperately need every person to be vaccinated."
8am - Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles says she is "gutted" the Government has decided to ease restrictions under alert level 3.
She believes the step should have been reserved for when there is a greater vaccination coverage - including children.
"I'm kind of gutted I think. Partly because I thought this would be a step we'd be taking some time next year when we had vaccines available for all of our children and better treatment," she told TVNZ.
Like Professor Shaun Hendy, Dr Wiles believes alert level 1 as we know it is now "lost".
"It's about the fact we've lost level 1 now and I think that New Zealanders need to get their heads around the future with COVID."
7:50am - Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett has blasted the relaxed restrictions under the Government's 'roadmap to recovery'.
Speaking to The AM Show on Tuesday morning, Barnett said phase one "absolutely ignored" business, while phases two and three are "vague promises".
"If you have a look at phase one, I think business was absolutely ignored. What we got was brunch on the beach and a swim. And then phases two and three are vague promises - no dates and no conditions - under which we can move," he said.
He says businesses in the Super City are suffering - and the wage subsidy scheme is not overly helpful.
"That doesn't help business. Business has to apply for [the wage subsidy] - so there's admin costs for business; they have to receive it, they have to pay the tax on it, they have to pay it out. It's for employees. And then they're expected to top it up, so there goes another cost. So the subsidy… we're grateful for it, but it's certainly not generous," he said.
"The biggest problem that we do have is it's not just hospitality, for example. Businesses for the last two months have been unable to earn at all, so now they're burdened with debt and they've been offered continued uncertainty, and that's not going to get them back to business… Most businesses are suffering at the moment. No revenue, costs only."
7:40am - In case you missed it, disease modeller and physicist Shaun Hendy believes life as we know it under alert level 1 has gone.
"I think something that's really important for people to realise is level 1 is probably gone - that level 1 life we've enjoyed a lot of over the last 18 months. We're not going back to that. We're going to have to have public health measures in place for the foreseeable future," he told The AM Show on Tuesday morning.
He believes there will be a different alert level 1 framework in the future when there is greater vaccination coverage, which will still require frequent testing and mask use.
"It's not going to feel like the level 1 we've enjoyed over the past 18 months… it's going to come with a whole lot of other practices," he said.
"It's quite possible for an extended period we're going to continue to need masks."
7:32am - Robertson says the healthcare system is in a "strong position" to handle the outbreak, despite fears that case numbers will rise under the relaxed alert level 3 restrictions.
He says more negative pressure rooms are being provided, hospitals will be converting rooms as needed, and sufficient staffing for intensive care units is available.
"We do have the capacity to manage this outbreak," he told The AM Show.
He reiterated that both locals DHBs and the Ministry of Health have advised the Government that there is the capacity to manage the outbreak and health officials are keeping a close eye on hospitalisations.
Robertson asks Aucklanders to use common sense when applying the rules.
"The critical element here is the focus of these gatherings is 'outdoors'. We're giving Aucklanders a bit of respite, but not compromising our health approach."
7:27am - In regards to play dates for children, Robertson says parents are expected to "be careful", but "practical".
"We still do want people to be masked, and those physical distancing requirements are still in place," he said.
There are activities children can partake in that still maintain physical distancing, but parents are expected to apply a practical approach to the situation.
7:25am - Robertson is shedding some light on the big question - can people use the bathroom when they meet outside in their groups of 10 or under?
"Of course we want it to be a practical situation," Robertson said.
So as long as people aren't congregating in the loo, using the bathroom is acceptable.
7:20am - Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson is about to appear on The AM Show to discuss the Government's "roadmap to recovery".
Tune in live on Three or online here.
7:18am - Disease modeller Professor Shaun Hendy says we're likely to need masks for an "extended period" and alert level 1 as we know it has "gone".
He told The AM Show some combination of public health measures is likely remain in place for the forseeable future.
7:05am - Early Childhood Council chief executive Sue Kurtovich is concerned centres in Auckland are set to open on Wednesday.
Kurtovich told Newshub providers are frustrated at the lack of guidance around managing health risks.
7am - The Auckland Business Chamber is disappointed over the lack of the detail in the Government's roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions.
Chief executive Michael Barnett told The AM Show it's done nothing to ease the uncertainty.
"What we needed was something that was more definitie - something with a target that we understood but most businesses are suffering at the moment."
6:52am - Waiheke Islanders want to break from Auckland's lockdown and bring in a localised border.
The island has never had a case of COVID-19 and locals fear the easing of alert level restrictions could see thousands of Aucklanders flock there while regional boundaries are still in place.
6:42am - Early learning centres are reopening in Auckland on Wednesday under the Government's roadmap out of lockdown. Early Childhood Council chief executive Sue Kurtovich told Newshub while the intent is good, she believes the implementation hasn't been thought through.
"Where's the opportunity between now and Wednesday morning to get all the early childhood teachers to a testing station, get their results back so we're able to tell parents?"
6:36am - Auckland City Mayor Phil Goff says the ball is now in the public's court to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to return to full normality.
"Get out there and get it done... to protect the community and help us move on from the lockdown situation we all want to be out of," he told Newshub.
6:32am - The Auckland Business Chamber is underwhelmed by the Government's roadmap.
Chief executive Michael Barnett told The AM Show the plan doesn't give any reassurance to struggling businesses.
"What we got is lunch on the beach and a swim and then phases two and three and vague promises, no dates, no conditions under which we can move."
6:30am - National Party leader Judith Collins is labelling the Government's roadmap to get out of COVID-19 restrictions a "vague wish list".
Collins says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has done a U-turn with no warning.
"The elimination strategy is quite clearly dead but she hasn't replaced it with any other strategy other than to stream Auckland out for the next three weeks."