Coronavirus: Alert level 3, step 2 rules for Auckland

The sun has risen on another day of alert level 3 in Auckland, but Wednesday comes with some key changes that will see credit cards get a work out and some picnics become outdoor parties.

At 11:50pm on Tuesday night, Auckland moved to step 2 of the alert level 3 roadmap. It follows parts of Waikato which made this transition last week and sees restrictions ease as the region moves closer towards the 90 percent double dose mark, at which time the traffic light system will come into play.

Here are the key changes for Aucklanders at the second step:

  • Outdoor gatherings can more than double in size with no limit on the number of bubbles intermingling. Up to 25 people can meet together - importantly it must be outside - with physical distancing encouraged
  • For those partaking in outside exercise classes, the number allowed to participate also expands to 25, including instructors. Again, physical distancing is encouraged as are face coverings when you're not exercising
  • There's also more places Aucklanders can go. Public venues will reopen for the first time in months. That includes the likes of libraries, museums and zoos. Face coverings are required here and people should keep two metres apart
  • If you're tired of waiting for your latest purchase to be delivered, there's good news. Retail stores can reopen their stores at the second step, meaning people can go inside to browse. Physical distancing of two metres is required and don't be surprised if stores limit how many people can be on-site at once to help with this. Face masks are also required
  • The new rules for retail stores also extend to fruit and vegetable markets. Customers can't eat or drink in the market, however, as face coverings must be kept on. Food trucks or other hospitality businesses that usually operate at a market can only provide contactless pick-up/takeaway
  • Funerals, tangihanga, weddings and civil unions can also expand to having 25 people attend, along with up to five staff. That means a total of 30 people can be present. Food and drink can be served, but guests must be seated

While many restrictions are easing, some are not. For example, hospitality venues must remain closed, entertainment facilities (like cinemas and casinos) can't yet operate and "close contact businesses" such as barbers or beauty salons must keep the doors closed. Movement for these businesses can be expected at the third step, though no date has been decided for that.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that Auckland was being allowed the extra freedoms due to it's high vaccination rates. 

"Auckland hit 90 percent first dose and 80 percent second dose over the weekend, and is now a matter of weeks away from 90 percent double dose. And so while we're getting those rates higher still, we are easing into our reopening. 

"The restrictions we've eased to date, we've done so because we know they are the safest ones. For example, evidence shows picnics outside have not led to an uptick in cases, and from barbecues, we have evidence of just one case. 

"Indoor gatherings, which are not permitted now, nor when we move to step 2, continue to be a major driver of spread. So keeping it outdoors reduces the risk and helps keep cases under control."

If you want to test your knowledge of the alert level 3, step 2 rules, try out Newshub's quiz here.