As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Friday, November 5

The Government is under pressure to reveal more details about how Aucklanders will be able to leave the region over the Christmas and summer period.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins this week suggested the Government was considering allocating time slots to travellers, something that deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson then called impractical.

But it wasn't ruled out in a statement from Hipkins on Thursday, when he said the Government was "committed" to Aucklanders travelling and that decisions were yet to be made on how the border system would work. It will likely include some use of vaccine certificates and testing. 

What you need to know:

  • There are 163 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday - 159 in Auckland and four in Waikato. 
  • The total number of people infected in this outbreak has broken the 4000 mark, with 4034 cases in total. 
  • A second person in self-quarantine has died from COVID-19 at home. This follows a case earlier this week
  • Seventy-seven percent of eligible New Zealanders are now fully vaccinated.
  • The Government is yet to make any decisions on how travel across the Auckland border will work over Christmas as the holidary period quickly approaches.
  • Rhythm and Vines is unlikely to go ahead unless the local DHB hits 90 percent fully vaccinated, Kiri Allan says.
  • COVID-19 has been detected in wastewater in the Taranaki town of Stratford, the local iwi says.
  • Virus also detected in Gisborne and Napier, where there are no MIQ facilities or known cases isolating.
  • A quarantine-free travel bubble with the Cook Islands will be in place from mid-January.
  • All visitors to prisons must be fully vaccinated from December 9.
  • The northern area of Northland moved to alert level 3 at 11:59pm on Tuesday night
  • Parts of Waikato under alert level 3 shifted to step two of the roadmap
  • Click here for all the locations of interest.

These live updates have now finished.

6:35pm - COVID-19 has recently been detected in wastewater samples taken in Napier and Gisborne, the Ministry of Health has revealed.

Neither of the areas have MIQ facilities or known cases isolating there.

"The wastewater sampling was carried out by ESR between 1 and 3 November, with results returned this afternoon," a release reads.

"They could be due to recently recovered cases returning to the region from MIQ who are shedding the virus, transient visitors to the region, or could signal undetected cases in the community.

"There are no MIQ facilities, or known COVID-19 cases self-isolating, in Napier or Gisborne. As standard procedure, ESR will carry out further samples in coming days with results expected early next week.

"As a prudent measure, anyone in the Hawke’s Bay and East Cape with COVID-19 symptoms – no matter how mild – are asked to please get tested, even if they are vaccinated.

"Testing is available by appointment at the following locations across Hawke’s Bay

  • Napier: 06 650 4000 open 9am-5pm
  • Hastings: 06 281 2644 open 8am-8pm
  • Wairoa: 06 838 8333 open 8.30am-5pm
  • Central Hawke’s Bay resident should phone your GP or call Healthline: 0800 358 5453.

"In Gisborne testing is available this Saturday and Sunday at a drive-through set up at 110 Peel Street from 9am - 5pm, no appointment required.

"Additional testing capacity in the area will be stood up, if needed, and details will be available on the Healthpoint website.

"Meanwhile, those in the Hawke’s Bay or East Cape regions are reminded to get vaccinated this weekend, if they have not already. Vaccination clinic locations across the region are also available on the Healthpoint website.

"So far, vaccination rates in the Hawke’s Bay have remained steady with 85% of residents having received their first dose, and 72 percent fully vaccinated. In Gisborne, 79 percent of residents have received their first dose, and 65 percent are fully vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccination is number one protections against the virus.

"The Ministry is monitoring the situation and will provide further public health advice if, and when, required."

6:20pm - The quarantine-free travel bubble between the Cook Islands and New Zealand will resume on 14 January 2022, the Pacific Island nation's government has revealed.

This means that the Cook Islands will be the only country that people in New Zealand can travel to and from for a holiday, without any quarantine or isolation. 

Graeme West, General Manager of Cook Islands Tourism Corporation Australasia, said the Cook Islands was very fortunate to have remained COVID-19 free so far.

He said that the Cook Islands Government has prioritised the health and wellbeing of its residents and visitors throughout the pandemic, with more than 96 percent of its eligible population fully vaccinated.

"We were open for just three months from May to August this year until the current Delta outbreak in New Zealand meant that the border had to be closed.

"We are absolutely delighted that we can safely welcome fully vaccinated visitors from New Zealand back again very soon."

Kiwis wanting to visit the Cook Islands will need to be fully vaccinated and receive a negative COVID-19 test prior to their departure from New Zealand.

5:45pm - Rhythm and Vines have released a statement in the wake of Labour MP Kiritapu Allen's comments on the festival likely being cancelled this summer.

Organisers says the team remain "100 percent focussed on delivering the festival this New Year as planned".

"In the current environment, the festival would require the traffic light system to be in place, and for settings to be Orange or Green in order for the event to go ahead. As per the Government framework, this would require every DHB to achieve 90% vaccination rates, including the local Tairawhiti DHB.

"During a 6 hour Civil Defence planning session between R&V organisers and local authorities, we were simply reiterating the current position that this would need to happen in order for the event to go ahead.

"Our position is always that Rhythm & Vines will go ahead if it is deemed safe to do so and we are legally permitted to under the regulations prevalent at the time. Should there be a change in the framework, we would work with local authorities, the government and Ministry of Health to ensure the event can be delivered in a safe manner.

"In the meantime, continue to encourage all New Zealanders to get vaccinated and ready for the summer so we can get back to doing what we love while protecting the ones we love."

5pm - National's Economic Development and Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says the Government has left the events industry to "fend for itself".

It comes after Labour MP Kiritapu Allen revealed the Rhythm and Vines music festival is unlikely to go ahead.

"The summer months are the busiest time for the events industry. Because of the ongoing confusion and lack of certainty over the Government’s Auckland and Waikato border policy, event organisers are having to cancel events at significant cost," McClay said.

"The events sector had asked the Government to assist with an insurance policy which would provide up to $20 million of cover if New Zealand went into Level 4. However, the Government said no, leaving it to fend for itself. 

"Today’s revelation is another blow to an industry that has done everything the Government has asked of it and has now been abandoned.

"The United Kingdom Government provided extensive insurance to its events industry. It’s time for the Labour Government to do the same."

McClay says the cancellation of such events are "devastating" and says the Government should pay compensation to small and large event organisers alike.

"Grant Robertson said no to events sector insurance four months ago. He now needs to urgently make amends for his poor decision.

"National’s policy, announced as part of our ‘Back to Business' package, would see large events covered by $50 million in event insurance, and $20 million for small events."

4:00pm - The Ministry of Health has put a call out for everyone who got their first shot during Super Saturday three weeks ago to get their second one this weekend. 

"Three weeks ago, Super Saturday galvanised our nation with a record-breaking 130,002 people getting vaccinated on a single day - now it’s time for the 39,025 people who got their first doses that day to get their second dose,” COVID-19 Vaccine and Immunisation Programme National Director Jo Gibbs said in a statement. 

"This is a not a repeat of Super Saturday but another great example of the mahi DHBs, GPs and hauora providers are doing to go the extra mile to get communities fully vaccinated for summer. Being fully vaccinated means we have more freedom to do the things we love with the people we love.

"Text or email reminders have gone out to everyone who got their first dose on Super Saturday to either book or turn-up at a walk-in or drive-through clinic this weekend or as soon as possible after that to become fully vaccinated. 

"We’re running a Super Saturday 2nd Shot radio and social media campaign plus advertising around NPC rugby matches this weekend to encourage vaccinations.

"I urge anyone over 12 who hasn’t yet been vaccinated or have received their first dose at least three weeks ago to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated for Super Saturday 2nd Shot. Vaccinations are our armour and it’s only 26 days till the first day of summer so let’s go, Aotearoa,"  Gibbs said.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Friday, November 5

3:47pm - Les Mills will require everyone using their gyms to be fully vaccinated, the club said in a statement today. 

"From the date on which the Government makes digital vaccination certificates available and the COVID-19 Protection Framework goes live in our region (Certificate Date), we will be implementing the vaccination entry requirement. We’re anticipating that you will only need to show your vaccination certificate once, and we’ll confirm this when we know more about the Government’s requirements.

"Once the new COVID-19 Protection Framework is in place, should you not wish to produce your vaccination certificate you will no longer be able to access any Les Mills club."

There will be options for members who aren't vaccinated with the ability to put memberships on hold. 

"We can put you on Special COVID-19 Pause for up to six months including access to Les Mills at Home, for $3.50 per week.

 "Alternatively, if you’d rather cancel your membership as a result of your choice to not be vaccinated against COVID-19, we can arrange that."

3:34pm - Brigadier Rose King has issued a statement about two people with COVID-19 who tried to escape managed isolation. The statement says: 

At around 5pm on Thursday 4 November a COVID-19 positive community case was being transported to the Holiday Inn Managed Isolation facility to begin their stay. Upon exiting the shuttle at the entrance of the facility they absconded on foot out of the open gate.

They were observed by Police and MIQ Security the entire time and did not come in contact with anyone. They were apprehended by Police around 100 metres down the road approx. 5 minutes later. They were immediately returned to the facility.

A security guard is now stationed outside this individual’s room. Welfare support is being provided.

The Holiday Inn Auckland Airport Hotel is being used for quarantine purposes for positive community cases. It has 237 quarantine rooms. There are currently 109 community cases there, occupying 64 rooms.

In a second incident – on Friday 5 November at around 11.45am a COVID-19 positive community case absconded from the Amohia Community Isolation Quarantine facility in Hamilton (Distinction Hamilton) by removing a section of perimeter fencing. They were observed by MIQ Security during this time. They absconded in a waiting car and were apprehended a short distance away by Police a few minutes later. They are currently in Police custody.

The individual arrived at the facility on 27 October and was due to be released on 9 November, they were on day 8 of their stay.

As I have said previously, every single event like this is extremely disappointing to me and they are all taken very seriously. But our facilities aren’t prisons and our staff aren’t prison guards. People don’t come into our facilities because they've broken the law, they come in because unfortunately they are community cases that have tested positive.

It is hard to keep people in a facility if they are determined to leave. MIQ staff work really hard to ensure the safety and comfort of all members of our community currently staying at our facilities. Most recent absconders were caught very quickly thanks to our staff and our security measures.

There are rules in place for every single returnee from overseas and now the community cases, and we expect people to follow these during their stay in managed isolation or quarantine. The overwhelming majority do their part to keep New Zealand safe. Deliberate breaches like this can put the wider community idents). 

3:27pm - A neighbour of the man who died while self-isolating at home has told Stuff he shouldn't have been allowed to go home after leaving hospital.  

"I don’t think it’s safe for people to isolate at home, and regardless of the fact he chose to leave hospital, he shouldn't have been allowed to go home.

"He should have been somewhere safe so that he could still be with us here today."

He also told Stuff the victim was fully vaccinated. 

2:57pm - Two people with COVID-19 have died while isolating at home this week. The first was a person in Manukau who was found on Wednesday by a member of the family. The second was a man who discharged himself from hospital on Wednesday and was found dead in his Mount Eden home on Friday morning. 

You can read the full story here

2:34pm - The Ministry of Health has released the latest list of locations of interest, including  Pak'nSave in Whangarei and an Auckland apartment block. 

You can see the full list here. 

2:20pm -  The Prime Minister's planned trip to Europe to support free trade negotiations has been delayed until next year. 

Ardern was set to travel to Europe soon to help progress negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between New Zealand and the European Union.  

Read the full story here

2:00pm - Dr McElnay says while she doesn't have the details around the COVID-19 patient who discharged himself from hospital then died at home, she said it is a patient's right to refuse medical care. 

She said if someone posed a health risk they could be required to stay in hospital, which begs the question why the patient was allowed to leave if he had COVID-19.  

Dr McElnay was also unable to say why he hadn't been taken straight to managed isolation. 

1:52pm - Dr McElnay says locations of interest in Auckland such as supermarkets are no longer applicable as the risk of infection is very, very low. The restrictions already in such as social distancing and wearing a mask are enough. 

She said the Ministry of Health would instead focus on high risk events. 

“These are exposures where there are likely to be close contacts of a positive case.” 

“We will continue to publish higher risk, close contact exposure events in public spaces when they occur, such as gyms or indoor recreation centres."


1:42pm - Grant Robertson says self-isolation for Kiwis wanting to return home will become the dominant form of isolation early in the New Year, provided they are fully vaccinated and have a negative COVID test. 

"We do still have cases coming into managed isolation and not all of those people are stopping in Auckland. We understand there is a  great desire for people to return to New Zealand and we are trying to facilitate that, however we will continue to move carefully and cautiously in this area." 

1:37pm - Robertson says self-isolation for Kiwis wanting to return home will become the dominant form of isolation early in the New Year, provided they are fully vaccinated and have a negative COVID test. 

"We do still have cases coming into managed isolation and not all of those people are stopping in Auckland. We understand there is a  great desire for people to return to New Zealand and we are trying to facilitate that, however we will continue to move carefully and cautiously in this area. 

1:25pm - Regarding the Auckland border, Robertson reiterates comments from the Prime Minister that the best way to allow travel is to get to 90 percent fully vaccinated. In the meantime, the Government is looking at what to do in case the border is still in place, he says. Vaccine certificates and testing could be used.

The Government is committed to letting Aucklanders travel for Christmas, Robertson says. It's a "massive logistical exercise", he says, as tens of thousands of people are likely to want to cross the border.

If testing is needed, there are many sites to help with this, he says. 

Robertson reiterates he doesn't see the time slot idea as practical.

He accepts that projections show some DHBs won't get to 90 percent by Christmas. There is the November 29 check-in, which may allow Cabinet to tweak the system if needed, Robertson says.

1:20pm - Here's the full figures from the Ministry of Health:

COVID-19 vaccine update  
Total first and second vaccines administered to date (percentage of eligible people) 6,979,625: 3,738,116 first doses (89%); 3,241,509 second doses (77%)
Total first and second vaccines administered yesterday 26,058: 6,646 first doses; 19,412 second doses
Māori (percentage of eligible people) 419,075 first doses (73%); 314,484 second doses (55%)
Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people) 246,526 first doses (86%); 202,434 second doses (71%)
Total first and second vaccines administered to Auckland residents yesterday 6,457: 1,580 first doses; 4,877 second doses
Vaccination rates by DHB (with active cases)  
Northland DHB (percentage of eligible people 129,508 first doses (80%); 107,760 second doses (67%)
Auckland metro DHBs (percentage of eligible people 1,314,963 first doses (92%); 1,176,998 second doses (82%)
Waikato DHB (percentage of eligible people 312,617 first doses (88%); 266,000 second doses (74%)
Canterbury DHB (percentage of eligible people 444,833 first doses (92%); 370,400 second doses (77%)
Cases in hospital 69 (total, up from 64 yesterday): North Shore (18); Middlemore (23); Auckland (26); Waikato (1); Waitakere (1)
Average age of current hospitalisations 51
Cases in ICU or HDU Six
Number of new community cases 163
Number of new cases identified at the border 2
Location of new community cases Auckland (159), Waikato (4)
Location of community cases (total) Auckland 3,847 (1,659 of whom have recovered); Waikato 150 (59 of whom have recovered); Wellington 17 (all of whom have recovered); Northland 15 (5 of whom have recovered); Nelson/Marlborough 1 (recovered); Canterbury 4
Number of community cases (total) 4,034 (in current community outbreak)
Confirmed cases (total) 6,777
Historical cases 185 out of 4,964 cases since 1 January
Cases infectious in the community 51 of 139 cases reported yesterday have exposure events
Cases in isolation throughout the period they were infectious 88 of 139 cases reported yesterday have no exposure events
Cases epidemiologically linked 61 of today’s 163 cases
Cases to be epidemiologically linked 102 of today’s 163 cases
Cases epidemiologically linked (total) 3,316 (in the current cluster) (515 unlinked from the past 14 days)
Number of active contacts being managed (total): 3,732
Percentage who have received an outbound call from contact tracers (to confirm testing and isolation requirements) 73%
Percentage who have returned at least one result 73%
Locations of interest  
Locations of interest (total) 297 (as at 10am 5 November)
Number of tests (total) 4,223,605
Number of tests total (last 24 hours) 28,890
Tests processed in Auckland (last 24 hours) 12,149
Tests rolling average (last 7 days) 26,557
Testing centres in Auckland 18
Wastewater detections See below
NZ COVID Tracer  
Registered users (total) 3,345,747
Poster scans (total) 479,924,616
Manual diary entries (total) 19,601,464
Poster scans in 24 hours to midday yesterday 2,370,886

1:10pm - Robertson says $5.3 billion had been paid out through the wage subsidy and Resurgence Support Payment. There have been 993,733 wage subsidy applications approved with more than $3.9b paid out. 

He recognises this is a "tough time" for people and businesses in Auckland during the lengthy lockdown.

Robertson says the person who has died was admitted to hospital on November 1 before discharging themselves on Wednesday. There was phone contact on Wednesday and Thursday. 

1:05pm - Dr McElnay says there are 163 new COVID-19 cases, including 159 in Auckland and four in Waikato. 

There is also a second death of someone isolating at home with COVID-19. They were located in Mt Eden and were recently treated in hospital. Both deaths reported this week are being investigated as part of a review by Ministry of Health and Auckland DHBs.

There are 69 people in hospital with COVID-19. Six of these are in ICU or HDU.

Given the number of cases in Auckland, not every location of interest will be listed. Instead, high-risk events will be listed. Low-risk exposure events are no longer being reported in Auckland as the public health risk is very low.

Dr McElnay says people in Far North should continue to be tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19. There are no new cases in Northland.

In Waikato, of the four cases, three cases are linked to known cases. One case in Te Awamutu is being investigated.

Dr McElnay confirms the positive wastewater result in Taranaki, but this hasn't yet been linked to a known active case. Anyone in the region with symptoms should get tested, she says.

12:30pm - There will be a 1pm press conference featuring Grant Robertson and Dr Caroline McElnay. We will livestream that above and on Three.

12:10pm - National's Chris Bishop says more than 50,000 people have already signed the party's petition to end MIQ for the fully vaccinated.

"Signatures have come in at a staggering rate. At one point yesterday a new person was signing every second, and it isn't slowing down," he says.

"People have signed from all over the world – Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Oman, Russia, Egypt, and dozens of other countries.

"Kiwis offshore feel shut out from the 'Team of Five Million'. The Prime Minister hasn't even bothered to read the letter pleading for changes to MIQ that Grounded Kiwis sent to her, and there is huge anger and frustration that New Zealand continues to close its border to its own citizens – even citizens that are fully vaccinated and who present very little risk to New Zealand."

He wants the Government to listen to those signing the petition and end what he refers to as "wilful, state-sponsored cruelty on an industrial scale".

"Fully-vaccinated travellers to New Zealand present negligible risk. Since we started collecting MIQ vaccination data from August 23, just two fully-vaccinated travellers in MIQ have tested positive later than day eight in MIQ.

"Ending MIQ would reunite families, end the enormous anguish at the heart of the system, boost tourism, and help fill skill shortages in New Zealand.

"We can’t remain stuck behind the walls of Fortress New Zealand forever. We have to reopen to the world, and a good place to start would be getting rid of the lottery of human misery that is MIQ."

12pm - Reaching the 90 percent target could still mean spending about three quarters of next year in the 'Red' traffic light setting, but vaccinating children would help, COVID-19 modeller Shaun Hendy says.

"The traffic light system is designed to be a long-term management strategy, so less about reacting by moving us into lockdown when we have an outbreak and more about managing case numbers," he said, "tolerating some presence in the community without letting it really soak up, you know, all available healthcare capacity."

"We might find ourselves spending, you know, three quarters of next year in the Red, and maybe a quarter in Green or Orange. That's given our current vaccine targets which is 90 percent of the over-12s."

However, if vaccinations were approved for children aged 5-11, that could make a big difference.

Read more here.

11:30am - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is encouraging Aucklanders to get vaccinated at one of the community #GotYaDot events being held at Eden Park and across the region this weekend.

Attendees at the Eden Park event will be able to get vaccinated on the grounds, run through the players’ tunnel, visit the changing rooms, and have their name put up on the big screen.

"Aucklanders have done an incredible job of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and we're getting closer every day to 90 per cent first doses for over 12-year-olds across the region," Mayor Goff says.

"In Counties Manukau, more than 431,000 people have had their first dose and we need fewer than 3000 more to step up this week to get to 90 per cent.

"We are so close to achieving this goal so if you know anyone who is not yet vaccinated, please encourage them to get it done as soon as possible.

"This Saturday is three weeks since the Super Saturday event, so if you got your first dose on that day you'll be eligible for your second this weekend.

11:25am - Regarding the decision to allow Murray Bolton to self-isolate upon his return from the US, Joint Head of MIQ Chris Bunny has released this statement: 

"Following the judicial review of Mr Bolton’s case MIQ referred the decision to a Medical Officer of Health, who has the relevant medical experience to consider these matters.

"Yesterday MIQ received the Medical Officer of Health’s decision, which was to grant an MIQ exemption to Mr Bolton so he and his partner can self-isolate at their home after their trip to Boston, and advised Mr Bolton of this decision.

"In light of matters raised in the review and decision, we are reviewing our decision-making process for exemption applications made under clause 12(2) of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Isolation and Quarantine) Order 2020.

"All community self-isolation, such as Mr Bolton’s, is the responsibility of the local District Health Board."

11:15am - Another medicine, baricitinib, has been purchased by Pharmac to treat moderate to serious cases of COVID-19, with 500 courses expected in the country within weeks. 

"Clinical trials have shown baricitinib can help hospitalised COVID-19 patients, reducing severity of symptoms and time in hospital, and increasing survival," says Pharmac's chief executive Sarah Fitt.

Baricitinib, an oral tablet, is not currently Medsafe approved for use in the treatment of COVID-19 and clinicians will need to comply with Section 25 of the Medicines Act 1981.

"We are already funding tocilizumab and remdesivir to treat moderate to severe cases of COVID-19. Securing supplies of baricitinib means we will have an additional treatment option for those who become unwell.

"Our best safeguard against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. But we are pleased that we can purchase another treatment to help those who do require hospitalisation as a result of this infection.

"Since the pandemic has started, we have quickly secured additional treatments for COVID-19 - remdesivir, tocilizumab, molnupiravir and Ronapreve, using a dedicated budget allocated by Government to make sure New Zealand can access new COVID-19 medicines."

Health Minister Andrew Little says it's good news for patients. 

"Preventing people from getting COVID-19 in the first place, through vaccinations, social distancing and mask-wearing, is still the best protection for people and for keeping the health system free for those who need it."

He says it's the fifth drug Pharmac has secured to treat COVID-19 symptoms.

"Like tocilizumab, baricitinib can be used to treat patients who are very sick, as it reduces the severity of symptoms and cuts time in hospital and reduces the likelihood of death.

"Pharmac expects to receive 500 doses of baricitinib this month, which is important because there is a global shortage of tocilizumab and this gives clinicians another option."

11:05am - ACT's David Seymour is calling on the Government to stop "holding fun hostage" and give Kiwis a "Freedom Day".

It comes after Labour's Kiri Allan on The AM Show on Friday morning said Rhythm and Vines wouldn't go ahead unless Tairawhiti got to 90 percent double dosed. That's unlikely to happen until well into January.

"Putting all the uncertainty onto events promoters means events won't go ahead. The Government is effectively saying 'your event will probably be cancelled but if you want to try the risk is all on you.'

"Jacinda's promise, if you want a summer, get vaccinated, is broken by default."

He says people were promised a summer, but now they don't know if they'll even get an allocated time to leave Auckland - a reference to a widely ridiculed idea the Government was considering to give time slots to those leaving the region. 

"ACT has long said the Government should underwrite a Major Events Insurance Fund to insure event promoters against losses specific to COVID restrictions. That would give them the ability to plan under Government-created uncertainty.

"ACT's $50 million Major Events Insurance Fund would let organisers go ahead and plan summer events, without the fear of financial ruin.

"A similar fund has been set up in the UK and gives a security blanket to event organisers.

"The fund would be available to events that host 500 people or more. It would only be paid out if events are cancelled. 

"We need things to look forward to, but why would promoters bother with all the uncertainty.

"ACT believes December 1 should be Freedom Day. By that date, everyone has had the opportunity to be vaccinated and we should open up and get on with life."

10:55am - East Coast Labour MP Kiri Allan has advised the much-anticipated New Year's festival Rhythm and Vines will only go ahead this year if the local DHB's population is 90 percent fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Gisborne, where the annual three-day gig is held every year, sits in the Tairāwhiti DHB, which is well behind in vaccination rates.

It's currently sitting at 79 percent for first doses and only 65 percent for second doses. 

Allan said she had been in contact with the festival's organisers, as well as the emergency management team. 

"The Rhythm and Vines crew have been pretty clear that it will only go ahead if we hit the 90 percent vaccination rates," she told The AM Show on Friday morning. 

Read more here.

10:40am - The Ministry of Health has refused to confirm a positive wastewater test in Stratford, but has said there is a pop-up testing centre in the town.

"There will be an update in today’s COVID-19 statement. A pop-up testing centre has been stood up at the War Memorial car park in Stratford this morning."

The Taranaki District Health Board says on its website that the result "could be due to recently recovered cases returning to the region from MIQ who are shedding the virus, transient visitors to the region, or could signal undetected cases in the community".

10:30am - The Taranaki District Health Board has confirmed the positive COVID-19 wastewater result in Stratford. It says "it’s possible there is undetected community transmission in our region".

"To be sure, we’re encouraging anyone in Stratford or the wider region to get tested if you have any cold or flu-like symptoms, especially if you’ve been travelling outside the region or been to a location of interest."

10:25am - The Spinoff is reporting the Ministry of Health as neither confirming nor denying COVID-19 has been found in Stratford. Newshub hasn't received any response from the ministry. 

10:15am - There is one new location of interest:

  • Jins NZ Ltd, Henderson (Fruit and vege store inside H-Mart) - Saturday, October 30 between 9:30am and 12pm

10:05am - The mayor of Stratford, where COVID-19 has been detected in the wastewater, has told Newshub the result was "strongly positive".

Neil Volzke said the sample was taken on Monday and it's usual for the results to take about three days to come through.

"We are doing another test today. I believe, in this instance, the result will be through on Sunday," he said.

He said with such a strong test it is "highly likely that there are people in the community that have contracted the disease and those people are unknown to us at this stage".

"There is a real risk of this thing spreading and we wish to contain that obviously."

Volzke is calling people to physically distance, wear masks and make sure they stick to other rules. If they are feeling unwell, they should get tested, he said. There are stations operating in the township now.

It's concerning that vaccination rates are so low, he said. It's about 85 percent first dose and 68 percent second dose.

"We are moving up, but there is still a long way to go."

Newshub earlier asked the Ministry of Health for comment, but hasn't heard back.

9:55am - Senior Government minister David Parker says he's "on the side of Aucklanders being able to leave for their summer holidays" and is sure they'll "get a good Christmas", with or without a hard border the Opposition has dubbed a "dystopian future plan" and "raving mad". 

There's confusion over how easily Aucklanders will be able to leave the city in December, with the Government looking for ways to stop unvaccinated people from potentially spreading COVID-19 into parts of the country without it. 

Parker told The AM Show the key is vaccinations.

Read more here.

9:40am - Critically ill children and their families who have travelled to Auckland for specialist treatment at Starship Hospital are dealing with added stress due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Fourteen-year-old Eva is no stranger to Starship, having spent the first six years of her life living in the hospital.

Her mother, Tiff McLeod, said her current admission had been gruelling for different reasons - due to the extra COVID-19 restrictions.

"It's literally exhausting just trying to get to your child at times. When before, nothing could stop you - you could just go through the door and get up there."

Read more here.

9:25am - Labour minister Michael Wood has hit back at comments Sir Ian Taylor made this morning about New Zealand seeming to be shrouded in fear.

The Workplace Relations and Safety Minister tweeted: "Perhaps less fear, and more a shared national determination that a death rate of 135 people per week (the USA daily death toll of 1257 adjusted for population, great hand washing & plucky personal responsibility notwithstanding) is something we should work together to avoid."

9:10am - Europe registered a 55 percent rise in COVID-19 cases in the last four weeks, despite the availability of vaccines, which should serve as a "warning shot" to other regions, World Health Organization officials said on Thursday.

Here's the latest on the pandemic from there and elsewhere around the world. 

9am - Ngāti Ruanui says COVID-19 has been detected in the wastewater system of the Taranaki town of Stratford. 

"We were notified last night of a strong positive COVID-19 wastewater test result, indicating the detection of the virus in the wastewater system of Stratford. We have been informed that the sample was taken on Monday 1st of November," said the iwi kaiwhakahaere Rachel Rae. 

"It’s hugely important that we connect the dots between the wastewater result and the source. Today, we will be standing up our mobile unit in Stratford where we will test and have the capacity to vaccinate."

Rae said the concern was that "there is a high possibility that the wastewater result means that there is undetected community transmission". 

"In such an isolated community, this could indicate wider spread throughout the region if the source made stops in New Plymouth for example," said Rae.

Te Paati Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said it was concerning that vaccination rates were so low, sitting at 68 percent double dose and lower for Māori.

"Like our iwi and hauora providers, we have stood up successful yaks’n’vax which have been pivotal in raising Māori vaccination rates. They have worked in the by whānau, for whānau capacity and sure they will work in the new testing capacity too" said Ngarewa-Packer.

"Our mobile units will be open from 9:30AM, where we encourage anyone who is symptomatic and/or been out of the region to seek a test. We also encourage whānau to please be vaccinated. The longer we take to identify the source, the longer a potential outbreak has, to get out of control. 

Rae said: "We understand that today, ESR testing will conduct a second test in the wastewater system, with the Ministry urgently scrambling to see if a recent MIQ returnee travelled to Stratford after being released."

Newshub has contacted the Ministry of Health for additional comment.

8:55am - Stuff reports that as of November 1, 2.89 percent of people (89,980) who got their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine six or more weeks ago were still yet to get their second. Of those, 42,733 got their first dose more than eight weeks ago, and 15,978 more than 10 weeks ago.

The Government did recommend a six-week gap between doses, but then during this outbreak moved to encouraging people to get their second dose three weeks after their first.

8:40am - Speaking to The AM Show from Los Angeles, businessman Sir Ian Taylor said he feels safer there than in New Zealand. That's because they have got on with the idea that you have to live with COVID.

"I haven't been able to get into a single building without wearing a mask," Sir Ian says.

He's also had to take tests to get into other buildings, telling The AM Show that testing is seen as just as important there than vaccinations.

"Every meeting I have had, they have taken COVID more seriously than we have. I get the sense as I look back at New Zealand that we seem to be shrouded with fear and there is none of that here. We are careful, we take self responsibility and you get on with it."

8:25am - Here's the case summary from Thursday with all the latest data: 

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Friday, November 5

8:10am - Richlister Murray Bolton, who last month successfully brought a judicial review of MBIE's decision not to let him self-isolate at home, will now be able to do just that, he says. 

After MBIE rejected his first application to self-isolate after returning from an important business meeting in the US next week, he says he's been informed the ministry has done a U-turn.

"MBIE only changed its mind in my case because I had the time and the resources to fight for my rights in court," Bolton says. "That’s great for me, but most Kiwis don’t have that level of privilege. Whether they are trying to get home to be reunited with their families or travelling for business opportunities that are critical to New Zealand’s post-pandemic economic recovery, they shouldn’t have to lawyer up to get a fair hearing from officials."

"There are currently 723 COVID-positive Aucklanders self-isolating at home who caught the virus in the community here, in New Zealand.

"Yet thousands of Kiwis who are double-vaccinated and COVID-free are told they can’t come home from overseas until they literally win a lottery, for one of a handful of rooms in an MIQ facility guarded by soldiers."

He says it's important this "precedent about New Zealanders' rights isn't swept under the carpet". 

"I have instructed my lawyers to share the legal research which supported and informed our successful judicial review application with the lawyers for Grounded Kiwis, who are challenging the MIQ system in its current form on behalf of New Zealanders stranded overseas.” 

"In the media every day we see expectant mothers separated from their partners, parents separated from children, and people unable to be with dying family members. I was overwhelmed by the stories I heard after my case was decided last week."

7:55am - Auckland's senior secondary school students did not rush back to class after their 10-week lockdown, according to the Education Ministry's figures.

Daily attendance among teens in Years 11-13 in the region last week ranged from a high of 48 percent for Year 13 students on Tuesday last week, to a low of 38 percent among that year group on Friday.

Auckland Secondary Principals Association president Steve Hargreaves said the figures reflected the different approaches schools were taking.

Read more here.

7:40am - National's Simon Bridges says Parker's comments are an acknowledgement "the communication here is falling apart and the Government is losing control". 

He's heard within Labour "there is significant division about this".

"Jacinda Ardern and your Government shouldn't play Santa," Bridges says, believing the Government needs to give Aucklanders the plan as soon as possible.

Parker says people shouldn't give up on the possibility that there won't be border. That decision will depend on vaccination rates in Auckland and "further afield". 

He says it would be irresponsible to make that decision too early without the latest data.

But it's clear Aucklanders will be able to travel for Christmas, Parker tells The AM Show.

7:35am - Regarding the Auckland border, Labour's David Parker tells The AM Show he supports locals being able to leave for their summer holidays. 

He suggests there may not be a border if vaccination rates rise to an appropriate point.

"We will know in the next few weeks whether we need a border. If we do still have a border around Auckland, then you have to decide what you do in respect of unvaccinated people," Parker says.

There needs to be a pratical solution rather than a large queue of traffic, he says.

"We haven't taken those decisions. Chris Hipkins made one suggestion and maybe that wasn't as practical as he would have hoped. Grant Robertson responded, saying 'let's hope we can do better than that'. We are working these issues through."

7:20am - Labour's Kiri Allan told The AM Show that the Rhythm and Vines team says the event will only go ahead if the local DHB hits 90 percent.

Gisborne, where RnV is held, is in the Tairawhiti DHB, which is well behind in vaccination rates, currently sitting at 79 percent first dose, 65 percent second dose.

Allan says she has been in contact with the crew as well as with emergency management.

"The Rhythm and Vines crew have been pretty clear that it will only go ahead if we hit the 90 percent vaccination rates."

She says about 50,000 people come to the region for the event and she would love to see it go ahead "but we do need to get to those 90 percent vaccination rates".

Allan supports the RnV crew's position, believing the DHB needs to get to 90 percent double dose for the community's protection.

"The Rhythm and Vines crew took a very understanding and caring view of that perspective. They care about our community just as much as everyone else does here and so that is going to be critical to their decision-making."

She says she's an optimist.

"Never say never until the good lady sings so let's see how we go. We do want to get to that 90 percent vaccination rate."

7:10am - Saturday marks three weeks since 'Super Saturday' when more than 130,000 people came out to get vaccinated. Of those 39,025 were first doses, meaning those people are coming up to the time they can get their second.

The Ministry of Health says they should do so this weekend.

"Everyone vaccinated for the first time during Super Saturday will be getting email and text reminders to get their second shot – so please go and get one to protect yourself, your friends and your whanau.

"We’re also calling on anyone else over 12 who hasn’t yet been vaccinated to get their shot. With hundreds of clinics open all over New Zealand this weekend, including drive-thru and walk-in options, it’s never been easier.  

"People in Auckland can also head to Eden Park, which will be open for vaccinations over the weekend with the #GotYaDot event – a unifying campaign to help whanau, hapû, iwi, teams, communities, and families to get a dot (vaccine) and protect their whakapapa."

6:55am - Speaking to RNZ, COVID-19 modeller Shaun Hendy said three-quarters of next year could be spent at the 'red' level of the traffic-light system. 

"It's gonna take some getting used to. We're not going back to that kind of level 1 life that we've enjoyed for most of 2020 and 2021," he said.

"The traffic light system is designed to be a long-term management strategy, so less about reacting by moving us into lockdown when we have an outbreak and more about managing case numbers," he said, "tolerating some presence in the community without letting it really soak up, you know, all available healthcare capacity."

"We might find ourselves spending, you know, three quarters of next year in the Red, and maybe a quarter in Green or Orange. That's given our current vaccine targets which is 90 percent of the over-12s."

If those between 5 and 12 became eligible for vaccines, we could spend less time at red, Hendy said.

But there's still a chance of the outbreak spiralling out of control. 

"There's still the possibility that we could get into maybe as high as 400 to 500 new cases per day. That would put real strain on our healthcare system.

"I think even the coming peak between 200 to 300 cases per day that we think is most likely will put strain on the system. It'll certainly fill up the capacity we have within Auckland to deal with Covid.

"If the outbreak spreads to other parts of the country that have lower vaccination rates within Auckland and perhaps lower healthcare capacity then that could also be quite devastating for those regions."

6:45am - NZ Herald has released a poll with Talbot Mills Research showing that just 40 percent of Kiwis believe believe the 90 percent double dose target will be achieved across all DHBs by the end of the year. It found 57 percent thought it could be hit by the end of January, 19 percent believed it would be achieved at a later date and 11 percent said it would never happen. The rest were unsure. 

The poll also found 59 percent of respondents believe the Government should wait for the 90 percent fully vaccinated mark before easing international borders, while 33 percent want the Government to set a clear date.

6:30am - Here's the latest DHB by DHB breakdown of vaccination rates including doses administered by Wednesday night.

As you can see, the likes of Northland, Tairawhiti, Whanganui, and West Coast are still only around 80 percent first dose and well behind in getting to 90 percent second dose. How that will impact other DHBs' chances of opening up before Christmas is unclear.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Friday, November 5

6:15am - A report from Newshub's Jenna Lynch on Thursday night found Aucklanders had mixed reactions to the time slot idea: 

"The system would be stuffed where you can't get the slot that you need when you want to travel," one man told Newshub.

"I think it would be really hard for families because they'd have to organise their time off work around that special slot," a woman said. 

Another woman commented: "That can become really difficult especially if you're going away with other people."

Newshub has been told the one key line in the official statement the Government really wants Aucklanders to hear is the commitment to letting Aucklanders leave their city this summer. Take that as a promise.

Newshub understands the ninth floor of the Beehive isn't happy with Hipkins for opening his gob and blurting this out. But the feeling is mutual, with some ministers' offices not so stoked the Prime Minister started it all by reiterating that the border might be in place all summer long.

Read more here.

6am - Kia ora, good morning and welcome to Newshub's live updates for Friday.

Pressure continues to mount on the Government to explain how Aucklanders will be able to travel across the border for the Christmas and summer period.

The issue was thrown into the spotlight this week after Jacinda Ardern reiterated that a hard border was likely to remain over summer. Her COVID-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins, then came out saying the Government was considering time slots for people to leave, an idea that has been widely ridiculed. Despite the deputy Prime Minister then saying the idea was impractical, it hasn't been ruled out.

Here's what Hipkins had to say on Thursday: 

"We are committed to ensuring Aucklanders are able to leave Auckland for Christmas and the summer holidays.

"At the same time, we need to do what we can for the rest of the country to try and ensure it is people, and not the virus, that moves beyond the Auckland boundary.

"No system will be perfect, and it will be challenging, but we are looking at how we can use tools like vaccine certificates and testing to achieve these goals.

"While no decisions have been made, we are talking with different sectors and groups who will be key to making a land boundary work safely and as smoothly as possible, and will keep the public up to speed with developments."

There's concern that while Auckland may get to the traffic light system by December, some other DHBs are far off getting to the 90 percent double dose target. Under the framework, all DHBs need to get there before the rest of New Zealand moves to the traffic light system. However, there is a check-in date set for November 29, when Cabinet will assess progress and could make some changes.

According to some projections, DHBs like Northland, Whanganui and Tairawhiti won't get to 90 percent fully vaccinated until mid-January. A new poll released by NZ Herald on Friday found only 40 percent of respondents felt the target could be hit by the end of the year.