As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, November 30

The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning the newly identified Omicron variant of COVID-19 poses a "very high" global risk, citing the possibility of increased transmissibility and it being resistant to both vaccines and immunity in people infected with previous strains.

In a technical brief issued on Sunday (local time), the WHO warned its member states that the new variant's multiple mutations "may confer immune escape potential and possibly transmissibility advantage". As a result, "the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron at the global level is high", the agency said. 

Meanwhile, Cabinet has announced which regions will move into the 'Red' and 'Orange' settings as New Zealand prepares to transition to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework. Northland, Auckland, Taupō and Rotorua Lakes Districts, Kawerau, Whakatane, Ōpōtiki Districts, Gisborne District, Wairoa District, Rangitikei, Whanganui, and Ruapehu Districts will enter the framework at Red, the most restrictive setting.

The rest of the North Island will move in at Orange, as will all of the South Island.

What you need to know

  • There are 134 new cases of COVID-19 to report on Tuesday - 116 in Auckland, nine in Bay of Plenty, eight in Waikato, and one in Northland.
  • Eighty-nine people are in hospital, nine of whom are in intensive care or high dependency units.
  • Auckland's border will open on December 15, allowing fully vaccinated Kiwis to travel to and from the region - people can also present a negative test received within 72 hours prior to departure.
  • All of New Zealand will move to the traffic light system on December 2 at 11:59pm, and the Government has announced which regions will move into red and orange.
  • Workers covered by the My Vaccine Pass mandate - staff working at businesses that are required to use vaccine certificates to operate - must have their first jab by Dec 3 and be fully vaccinated by Jan 17.
  • New Zealand's international borders will begin to reopen from January - from January 17 fully vaccinated Kiwis can return home from Australia without MIQ.
  • The Ministry of Health says it's "closely watching" the new Omicron variant overseas, which has been detected in Australia. The WHO believes the new strain might be more transmissible and possibly vaccine-resistant.
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest locations of interest here.

These live updates have finished.

8:40pm - Some DHBs are very close to passing the 90 percent first dose vaccination rate.

Bay of Plenty is the newest DHB to surpass the milestone, but Taranaki is just shy of the goal.

Data accurate as of 11:59pm on November 30 shows Taranaki is only 122 first doses away from hitting the 90 percent mark.

Next in line of which DHB is likely to reach that target next is Lakes, with 1787 people to go, or West Coast, with 547 first doses to go. Both have given first doses to 88 percent of eligible locals.

Only two DHBs have fully vaccinated 90 percent or more of its eligible population - Auckland and Capital and Coast.

Waitematā could be next. It's fully vaccinated 89 percent of its eligible locals and has 4020 second doses to go. Canterbury is likely next in line after, with an 88 percent fully vaccinated rate. It has 8834 second doses left to administer before it hits that milestone.

8:10pm - New South Wales Health says the traveller who recently arrived in the state and showed strong indications they had the omicron variant is now confirmed as being infected with it.

As reported earlier, they are now isolating at home on the central coast.

This brings the number of people confirmed to have the omicron variant in NSW to five.

Two people who were on the same flight as this person are now confirmed COVID-19 cases. Urgent genomic testing is underway for these travellers to determine if they also have the omicron variant. Neither of these two travellers had spent time in southern Africa.

7:40pm - There are six new locations of interest. They are:

  • 623 In The City Nelson, November 19 from 1:15pm to 2:30pm
  • Hardy's Bar & TAB Nelson, November 19 from 2:30pm to 3pm
  • Hardy's Bar & TAB Nelson, November 25 from 5:50pm to 6:10pm
  • Z Rutherford Service Station Nelson, November 27 from 11:30am to 12pm
  • Fresh Choice Nelson, November 27 from 3pm to 3:30pm
  • Z Rutherford Service Station Nelson, November 28 from 4:30pm to 4:45pm.

7:10pm - The Ministry of Health has confirmed that Wellington's Brentwood Hotel was added as a location of interest earlier today because it relates to a visit from a Rotorua-based case.

"There is no new case in Wellington to report," they say.

"We're asking fellow guests at the hotel to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 10 days after you were exposed at this location of interest. If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until you get a negative test result and until 24 hours after symptoms resolve."

6:30pm - Auckland Council says all its staffed services and facilities will require the use of vaccination passes when they reopen until at least January 17, 2022.

Mayor Phil Goff says he is supportive of the decision, which will help keep the council's staff and customers safe.

"We have a responsibility to do all we can to reduce the possibility of transmission within our facilities and keep our staff and customers as safe as possible," he says.

"Research shows that the risk of infection between two unvaccinated people is 20-fold higher than between two vaccinated people.

"We want to stress that people without vaccination passes will still be able to access our services, but the service may be delivered to unvaccinated customers in a different way than before. For example, we are currently planning for outdoor service provision wherever possible at our libraries, and will continue to provide our highly popular Wi-Fi, digital and 'Click-and-Collect' services."

Councillor Alf Filipaina, chair of the council's Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee, says restricting physical access to council services is not a decision taken lightly.

"I fully support the staff in this decision. Vaccinations play a critical role in keeping Aucklanders safe from COVID-19 and is the best way of protecting our people against the virus," he says.

"Ultimately, as we move through the Government's COVID settings, we want as many Aucklanders as possible to be able to enjoy our facilities again, but we also need to ensure we're doing everything we can to keep our staff and customers safe.

"Making this decision has been extremely difficult. We know Aucklanders love their libraries, art galleries, community centres, visitor centres and more, and we want as many people as possible to make the most of and enjoy our region."

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

5:30pm - There are several new locations of interest. They are:

  • The Martial Arts Academy Papamoa, November 22 from 3:45pm to 5:30pm
  • Millennium Hotel Rotorua, November 23 from 10am to 11:59pm
  • New World Nelson, November 23 from 3pm to 3:30pm
  • Millennium Hotel Rotorua, November 24 from 12am to 11:59pm
  • Huntly Dollar Mart Huntly, November 24 from 3:45pm to 5pm
  • VTNZ Tawn Place Te Rapa, November 26 from 2:45pm to 3:45pm
  • McDonald's Nelson, November 27 from 12pm to 12:30pm.

5pm - There is potentially a fifth Omicron COVID-19 case in New South Wales.

NSW Health says initial testing strongly indicates one more overseas traveller, who recently arrived in the state and is isolating at home on the central coast, has caught the variant.

The traveller is fully vaccinated and arrived in Sydney on November 25 and travelled by private car to the central coast. They had been in southern Africa.

The traveller also visited "a number of venues" on the central coast before they were told to go into isolation, including a mall, fast food shops, and supermarkets.

4:30pm - There are several new locations of interest. They are:

  • The Martial Arts Academy Papamoa, November 22 from 3:45pm to 4:30pm
  • Big Barrel Liquor Store Nelson, November 23 from 2:45pm to 3pm
  • Skyline Rotorua, November 24 from 11:04am to 12:30pm
  • Z Rutherford Service Station Nelson, November 23 from 4:30pm to 4:45pm
  • Raeward Fresh Wholesale Richmond, November 23 from 5:30pm to 5:45pm
  • Mapua Fruit and Vege, November 24 from 3:45pm to 4:15pm
  • Z Rutherford Service Station Nelson, November 25 from 11:40pm to 11:50pm
  • Pak'nSave Kaitaia, November 27 from 10:08am to 10:40am.

4:10pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has a message for the unvaccinated: "We are still a team."

In her latest Facebook Live, Ardern took candid questions from the public about the Government's COVID-19 response, including how the unvaccinated won't have as many freedoms under the new 'traffic light' system. 

"William, you've just said for the unvaccinated, it's a worrying time. I think one of the things I wanted to say is that we have a duty to look after everyone - everyone in the country... Those who are vaccinated, those who are unvaccinated," Ardern said. 

"We are still a team, even though some parts of the team have taken different decisions from other parts of the team. 

"The COVID Protection Framework, what we've designed, helps everyone. It helps keep everyone safe. And whilst we will continue to advocate that everyone gets vaccinated, because it is the best protection we can provide, the framework is also designed to keep people who aren't vaccinated, safe as well. 

"So while it will be more limiting for the unvaccinated, it will also be safer."

Read the full story here.

3:40pm - The Bay of Plenty district has reached the 90 percent first dose vaccination target - but the DHB says the job is not finished yet.

The district ticked over the 90 percent first dose milestone on Tuesday, the BOP DHB says. More than 194,000 people have received their first dose of the vaccine.

"We acknowledge the 90 percent milestone as a first key achievement, but we remain committed to achieving an equitable vaccine rollout," says Bay of Plenty District Health Board CEO Pete Chandler.

"We will celebrate the milestone when it is also achieved for Māori vaccination rates.

"We will continue to strive for the 90 percent fully vaccinated target for all of the diverse communities and ethnicities of Te Moana ā Toi."

More than 95 percent of the district's Pasifika community have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Chandler attributes the achievements of the vaccine rollout to collaboration and commitment of those in the community.

"The successes we've shared to date are owed to an amazing team of providers covering the breadth of the district; dedicated Māori, iwi and hāpū hauora providers; GPs and pharmacies; empowered communities; and the hard-working Bay of Plenty DHB team," Chandler says.

To reach the 90 percent fully vaccinated milestone, about 20,000 people in the district need to receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

3:10pm - Dunedin is now 90 percent fully vaccinated.

The city joins the likes of Queenstown, Wellington, and Selwyn in reaching this milestone.

"This is great news, but there's still more work to do to get as many people as possible across the country fully vaccinated as we transition into the COVID-19 Protection Framework," the Labour Party wrote in a Facebook post.

2:40pm - Here are the latest locations of interest to be identified by the Ministry of Health:

  • Z Rutherford Service Station, Nelson
  • Brentwood Hotel, Kilbirnie, Wellington.

According to the Ministry of Health, there is currently one active case under Capital and Coast District Health Board - a person who was recorded as a confirmed case on November 20.

2:25pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is asking iwi proposing to block travellers from entering the Bay of Islands this summer to work closely with the police on the issue.

A leaked email to Government agencies from Te Tii Waitangi ki Te Pēwhairangi says it wants to put a hard border in place when Auckland's regional boundary lifts on December 15. The border - which iwi and community leaders have called for in order to protect Northland/Te Tai Tokerau, a region struggling to boost its vaccination rates - would bar visitors from iconic holiday hotspots including Paihia and Russell.

"At this point in time, we cannot emphasise the need for as much support as you are able to provide to enable the protection of our communities in these trying times," the email says, as reported by TVNZ.

When asked about the issue by a reporter on Tuesday, Ardern encouraged local iwi to work alongside the police.

"This is an issue that I have absolute confidence and trust in the ability of the police to work with [the] local community and determining how to check the compliance of [what we have] asked of travellers over the summer," she told reporters.

"With the boundary between Auckland and the north - there is an expectation that any traveller that is coming from Auckland does either need to be [fully]  vaccinated or have had a negative test result in the previous 72 hours, and we've said that it will be up to the police to determine how they will enforce that. That is an operational decision - we will leave that to them."

Read more here.

2:15pm - Here's the latest update on vaccination rates in the Waikato region:

Territorial local   authority

1st doses

2nd doses

1st doses as a pct of eligible population

Fully vaccinated as a pct of eligible population

Hamilton City



93.7 pct

86.6 pct

Hauraki District



84.5 pct

76.1 pct

Matamata-Piako  District



89.2 pct

81.8 pct

Ōtorohanga District



82.2 pct

73.1 pct

Ruapehu District



84.3 pct

73.6 pct

South Waikato District



86.7 pct

75.5 pct

Thames-Coromandel District



88.0 pct

81.1 pct

Waikato District



89.5 pct

81.7 pct

Waipa District



93.7 pct

88.0 pct

Waitomo District



91.9 pct

81.4 pct

Waikato region



91.0 pct

83.5 pct

2pm - Here's a recap of Tuesday's key developments:

  • To date, 92 percent of eligible people in New Zealand have had their first dose and 86 percent are fully vaccinated.
  • There are 89 cases in hospital, nine of whom are in intensive care or high dependency units.
  • Of the 89 people in hospital, 67 percent are unvaccinated; 13 percent have only had one dose or are less than seven days from receiving their second dose; 19 percent received their second jab at least seven days before testing positive; and 1 percent is unknown.
  • There are 134 new cases to report - 116 in Auckland, eight in Waikato, one in Northland and nine in Bay of Plenty.
  • Of the new cases, 71 have yet to be epidemiologically linked.
  • There are no new unexpected detections of COVID-19 in wastewater samples.
  • There are two new cases in the Nelson-Tasman region, bringing the number of cases in the region to three. Due to a technical error, the three cases will be officially included in Wednesday's tally.
  • The two new cases in the Nelson-Tasman region are both known contacts of the first case, which was announced on Monday.
  • All three are in isolation, with investigations into the source of the transmission ongoing. So far, initial interviews have identified a small number of close contacts, who are also isolating with testing arranged.
  • The one new case in Northland resides in Kaitaia and public health interviews are underway to identify a link to the outbreak.
  • Of the eight new cases in Waikato, four are in Te Kūiti, one is in Huntly, one is in Hamilton, one is in Ngāruawāhia and one is in Te Awamutu - five have been linked to previous cases and the remaining three are under investigation.
  • Of the nine new cases in the Bay of Plenty, one is in the Whakatāne District, three are in Tauranga City, and five are in the wider western Bay of Plenty - all are close contacts of previously reported cases and were already isolating at home when they tested positive.

1:47pm - The Insurance Council is urging Kiwis to check their travel insurance for COVID-19 cover before booking an overseas getaway.

Following the Government's announcement last week regarding the phased reopening of New Zealand's international borders next year, the Insurance Council of New Zealand Te Kāhui Inihua o Aotearoa (ICNZ) is warning Kiwis to be careful with their cover before looking to leave Aotearoa - particularly with the emergence of the new Omicron variant.

Tim Grafton, the chief executive of ICNZ, says the insurance sector has responded to the new reality of global travel during the pandemic.

"Pandemic or not, travel insurance remains a good idea to cover non-COVID-19 related events such as delays, medical events such as a broken leg, theft or lost baggage or the impacts of a significant weather event," he said on Tuesday.

"What's essential before you book travel outside of Aotearoa as our borders open is to check with your insurer what is and isn't covered in relation to COVID-19. Sudden changes in the international situation, such as the snap re-introduction of border restrictions in many countries in response to Omicron, might otherwise leave you facing unforeseen costs."

Some, but not all, policies may include cover for specific COVID-19 claims such as cancellation costs if you contract COVID-19 and can't travel, costs to return home if a relative gets sick with COVID-19, or costs if you get sick with COVID-19 and need to quarantine while overseas. Some policies also cover reasonable costs if the person you are supposed to stay with gets COVID-19 and you need to find alternative accommodation. This cover will vary by policy, so travellers must check before they travel.

However, border closures imposed by a government, either effecting your ability to leave or return to New Zealand, or enter or leave another country, are typically not covered as it is simply not possible to develop a product that accounts for the uncertainty and the level of risk this presents. Many international travellers are facing this situation right now with the emergence of Omicron.

As each policy will differ, ICNZ strongly advises anyone purchasing travel insurance to read the policies thoroughly and to ask the insurer any questions they may have about what is and isn't included.

"Cover will vary by policy and provider. It's essential to check, and be clear about what is and isn't covered, before you travel," Grafton said.

1:35pm - Here are the regional updates from the Ministry of Health:

Today's cases 

Today, we are reporting new community cases in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Nelson-Marlborough regions.

We are also advising of two additional cases in the Nelson-Tasman region. This brings the number of cases in the region to three. Due to a technical error, these three confirmed cases in Nelson-Tasman will be officially included in our figures on Wednesday.  

Meanwhile, there are no additional cases to report today in Hawkes Bay, Lakes, Taranaki, MidCentral, Wairarapa or Wellington.

Information on today's cases is included in the regional updates below.

Regional updates 

We're asking anyone in New Zealand with symptoms – no matter how mild – to please get tested, even if you're vaccinated. Please remain isolated until you return a negative result.

If you are not vaccinated, now is the time, as vaccination is number one defence against COVID-19. Your DHB or local health provider will have plenty of opportunities to make this happen.

Testing and vaccination centre locations nationwide can be found on the Healthpoint website.


There is one new case being reported in Kaitaia. Public health interviews are underway to identify a link.

We continue to encourage anyone anywhere in Northland to get a test of they have any symptoms that could be COVID-19.

Testing and vaccination sites open in Northland can be found on the Northland DHB website.


Today, there are 116 new cases being reported in Auckland. 

There continues to be daily reviews of testing numbers and testing locations to ensure good coverage of risk areas.

Health staff are now supporting 3,844 people to isolate at home, including 977 cases.


Today we are reporting eight new cases in Waikato – four in Te Kūiti, one in Huntly, one in Hamilton, one in Ngāruawāhia and one in Te Awamutu.

Five of today's cases have been linked to existing infections and the remaining three are under investigation.

There are six pop-up and dedicated testing sites operating across Waikato today in Hamilton, Ngāruawāhia, Ōtorohanga, Thames and Te Kūiti.

Health staff are now supporting 118 cases to isolate at home.

Bay of Plenty

Today we are reporting nine new cases in the Bay of Plenty.

Of these cases, one is in the Whakatāne district, three are in Tauranga City, and five are in the wider western Bay of Plenty.

All are close contacts of previously reported cases and were already isolating at home when they tested positive.

The spread of COVID-19 in the Bay of Plenty is another reminder to get tested if you're feeling unwell and get your first and second dose of the vaccine if you haven't already.

Details of testing stations in Bay of Plenty can be found on Healthpoint.


Today, we are advising of two new cases in the Nelson-Tasman region, both known contacts of the case announced on Monday.

All three cases are in isolation, with investigations into the source of infection ongoing. So far, initial case interviews have identified a small number of close contacts, who are also isolating with testing arranged.

The Nelson-Marlborough Public Health Service would like to thank the cases for their cooperation - this has enabled health staff to determine a range of initial locations of interest across Nelson and Tasman. These locations are listed on the Ministry's website, with further locations expected.

People in the Nelson-Tasman region are asked to monitor the Ministry's locations of interest page, which is updated regularly.

We are also asking anyone in the Nelson-Tasman region with symptoms – no matter how mild – to please get tested, even if they are vaccinated - and remain isolated until they return a negative test result.

Testing is available at:

  • Stoke CBAC: Saxton Field parking area, Suffolk Rd, Stoke

    • 9am to 6pm

    • Tuesday, November 30 to Friday, December 3

  • Nelson CBAC: Trafalgar Centre car park, Paru Paru Rd

    • 9am to 6pm

    • Tuesday, November 30

Additional testing capacity, to ensure good coverage, is underway and details will be available on the Healthpoint website. Testing is also available at GP and urgent care clinics.

We are also calling for people to get vaccinated, with many sites available across the region. Vaccination clinic locations are available on the Nelson Marlborough Health website.

Please note, due to a technical error, the latest three confirmed cases in Nelson-Tasman will be officially included in our figures on Wednesday.  

1:33pm - There are 134 cases of COVID-19 to report on Tuesday - one in Northland, 116 in Auckland, eight in Waikato and nine in Bay of Plenty.

Here's the full update from the Ministry of Health:

86 pct of the eligible population fully vaccinated; 134 community cases; 89 people in hospital, 9 in ICU

There were 40,972 total doses administered on Monday, including 6,213 first doses and 11,862 second doses. To date, 92 percent of eligible people in New Zealand have had their first dose and 86 percent are fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccine update

  • Total first and second vaccines administered to date (percentage of eligible people): 7,537,325: 3,888,804 first doses (92 pct); 3,604,193 second doses (86 pct); 11,870 third primary doses; 32,458 booster doses

  • Total first and second vaccines administered on Monday: 40,972: 6,213 first doses; 11,862 second doses; 1,466 third primary doses; 21,431 booster doses

  • Māori (percentage of eligible people): 467,606 first doses (82 pct); 388,488 second doses (68 pct)

  • Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people): 1st doses: 260,903 (91 pct); 2nd doses 234,589 (82 pct)

  • Total first and second vaccines administered to Auckland residents on Monday: 1,209 first doses; and 12,215 second doses

Vaccination rates by DHB (with active cases)

  • Northland DHB (percentage of eligible people): First doses (85 pct); second doses (76 pct)

  • Auckland Metro DHBs (percentage of eligible people): First doses (94 pct); second doses (89 pct)

  • Waikato DHB (percentage of eligible people): First doses (91 pct); second doses (84 pct)

  • Bay of Plenty DHB (percentage of eligible people): First doses (90 pct); second doses (81 pct)

  • Lakes DHB (percentage of eligible people): First doses (88 pct); second doses (79 pct)

  • MidCentral DHB (percentage of eligible people): First doses (92 pct); second doses (84 pct)

  • Hawkes Bay DHB (percentage of eligible people): First dose (91 pct); second dose (82 pct)

  • Wairarapa DHB (percentage of eligible people): First doses (93 pct); second doses (84 pct)

  • Capital and Coast DHB (percentage of eligible people): First doses (95 pct); second doses (90 pct)

  • Nelson-Marlborough DHB (percentage of eligible people): First doses (91 pct); second doses (84 pct)

  • Canterbury DHB (percentage of eligible people): First doses (95 pct); second doses (88 pct)


  • Cases in hospital: 89 (a decrease of 4 on on Monday). North Shore (15); Auckland (36); Middlemore (34); Waikato (3); Rotorua (1)

  • Vaccination status of current hospitalisations (Northern Region wards only): Unvaccinated or not eligible (56 cases / 67 pct); partially immunised <7 days from second dose or have only received one dose (11 cases / 13 pct); fully vaccinated at least 7 days before being reported as a case (16 cases / 19 pct); unknown (1 cases / 1 pct)

  • Average age of current hospitalisations: 47

  • Cases in ICU or HDU: 9 (2 in Auckland; 4 in Middlemore, 1 in North Shore; 2 in Waikato)


  • Seven day rolling average of community cases: 167

  • Number of new community cases *: 134

  • Number of new cases identified at the border: Zero (1 historical)

  • Location of new community cases *: Northland (1), Auckland (116), Waikato (8), Bay of Plenty (9)

  • Location of community cases (total): Northland 83 (54 of whom have recovered); Auckland 7,774 (2,308 of whom have recovered); Waikato 449 (185 of whom have recovered); Bay of Plenty 57; Hawke's Bay 1; Lakes 26 (3 of whom have recovered); Taranaki 6 (all of whom have recovered); MidCentral 5 (1 has recovered); Wairarapa 3; Wellington 18 (17 of whom have recovered); Nelson/Marlborough 1 (recovered); Canterbury 9 (4 of whom have recovered)

  • Number of community cases (total)*: 8,431(in current community outbreak)

  • Confirmed cases (total): 11,206

  • Historical cases: 202 out of 9,402 cases since 1 January

  • Cases infectious in the community: 63 cases reported on Monday have exposure events

  • Cases in isolation throughout the period they were infectious: 111 cases reported on Monday have no exposure events

  • Cases epidemiologically linked: 63 of today's new cases

  • Cases to be epidemiologically linked: 71 of today's new cases

  • Cases epidemiologically linked (total): 6,297 (933 unlinked in the last 14 days)

* One previously reported case in Auckland had a duplicate record, and therefore has been removed from the total count. A separate, previously reported Auckland case has been reclassified as a Waikato case.

These changes, combined with the latest cases, result in a net increase today of 133 cases in the community outbreak.


  • Number of active contacts being managed (total): 6,842

  • Percentage who have received an outbound call from contact tracers (to confirm testing and isolation requirements): 68 pct

  • Percentage who have returned at least one result: 71 pct

Locations of interest

  • Locations of interest (total): 152 (as at 10am 30 November)


  • Number of tests (total): 4,909,302

  • Number of tests total (last 24 hours): 19,363

  • Tests processed in Auckland (last 24 hours): 16,114

  • Tests rolling average (last 7 days): 28,269

  • Testing centres in Auckland: 18


  • Wastewater detections: There are no new unexpected detections


  • Registered users (total): 3,424,515

  • Poster scans (total): 547,490,675

  • Manual diary entries (total): 20,943,727

  • Poster scans in 24 hours to midday on Monday: 2,656,540

1pm - More than 1000 available spaces in managed isolation and quarantine facilities (MIQ) were cut from Tuesday's morning room release following the emergence of the Omicron variant. 

Instead of 3100 rooms going online at 9am, officials cut capacity to 2050, citing a "rapidly evolving situation" with the newly identified strain.

The rooms were available to book for dates between December and March.

A MIQ spokesperson told RNZ there needed to be enough room for community cases as well as international arrivals over the coming weeks, including travellers from 'high risk' countries who are required to spend 14 days in a facility rather than seven.

The spokesperson said the rooms would continue to be released in a safe and manageable way.

Some people who entered the virtual booking lobby this morning told RNZ they missed out on securing a space.

Travel from nine southern African countries has now been banned in a bid to protect New Zealand from the new variant.

Institute of Environmental Science and Research principal scientist of genomics professor Mike Bunce previously said New Zealand was well-placed to deal with the new threat, but it was important to maintain the current restrictions at the border to "buy us time".


12:50pm - There will be no press conference today - instead, the Ministry of Health will release a statement with the latest updates on COVID-19 at 1pm.

12:40pm - The Prime Minister is now speaking to reporters in Hamilton. She is visiting the region on Tuesday to support vaccination efforts and meet with businesses. 

In Waikato, 83 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, but only 67 percent of its eligible Māori population are double-dosed. The region is still 23,735 short of reaching the 90 percent target.

The Ministry of Health registered 10 new cases in Waikato on Monday; four in Huntly, two in Te Kūiti, one in Hamilton, and the locations of the remaining three are yet to be confirmed. 

You can watch the briefing live now via our stream above.

12:15pm - The World Health Organization (WHO) says wealthier countries should be giving their booster jabs to more vulnerable nations to help prevent deadly variants from developing. 

Speaking with The AM Show on Tuesday, WHO representative Dr Margaret Harris said until there are high levels of vaccination across the world, new variants will continue to emerge and could become increasingly dangerous. 

"We would prefer the boosters not be used because we actually want those boosters used in the rest of the world. The reason we are getting variants… they are developing in countries where the virus is running rampant and unchecked by immunity because so many countries have not been able to get adequate supply of vaccines," Dr Harris said. 

"We want to see the vaccines going to the rest of the world and the real message is, if we don't address the terrible inequity, this may just be a dress rehearsal - we may have a much worse variant come along."

Read more here.

12pm - Popular Auckland club Bar 101 will be opening for table service when Auckland transitions to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework.

In a post to its Instagram on Monday, the nightclub confirmed it will open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays for seated table service from 9pm until late under the new 'traffic light' system, starting December 3.

"Due to the 100-person limit we recommend booking a table," it advised.

11:50am - A small but vocal group of around 30 anti-vaccine protesters have greeted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Waikato Theatre in Hamilton.

Ardern took the back entrance to avoid the crowds, says a Newshub reporter at the scene.

The Prime Minister will hold a press conference at 12:15pm. You can watch that live above.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, November 30
Photo credit: Newshub

11:40am - The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has strengthened its recommendations for booster doses, saying all adults should get boosted six months after the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech's or Moderna's vaccine, or two months after the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"Today, CDC is strengthening its recommendation on booster doses for individuals who are 18 years and older," CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said in a statement on Monday (local time).

"The recent emergence of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19.

"Early data from South Africa suggests increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, and scientists in the United States and around the world are urgently examining vaccine effectiveness related to this variant. I strongly encourage the 47 million adults who are not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to vaccinate the children and teens in their families as well because strong immunity will likely prevent serious illness."

11:25am - We need to be one step ahead of the next outbreak, writes Miguel Quiñones-Mateu, a professor at the University of Otago's Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

"We have been, and continue to be, exposed to a multitude of microbes, from bacteria, fungi, and parasites to the sempiternal viruses since day one," Quiñones-Mateu wrote in an opinion piece for Newsroom.

"Yet two years ago, when SARS-CoV-2 arrived, the world was not ready for it. We must now stay one step ahead of nature, in preparation for the next coronavirus outbreak.

"Many of the microbes are innocuous to humans and, in many cases, we have been able to coexist and evolve with them. Nevertheless, microbes have been responsible for a few notable pandemics during the last few centuries, starting with the Black Death - caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis - in the mid-1300s, to the influenza virus A/H1N1 virus responsible for the 1918 Spanish flu.

"In fact, novel viruses have been responsible for all of the most recent epidemics: the Asian flu (influenza virus A/H2N2 virus, 1957-58), the AIDS epidemic (Human Immunodeficiency Virus, 1981-present), the Swine flu (influenza A/H1N1, 2009-10), the Ebola epidemic (Zaire ebolavirus, 2014-16), and the Zika epidemic (Zika virus, 2015-present).

"For years, the scientific community has been forecasting that new viruses will continue to emerge, perhaps more frequently in the near future. Based on recent history, most experts, including New Zealand's own Robert G Webster, have predicted that a new influenza virus capable of being transmitted among humans would be responsible for the next viral pandemic.

"Fast forward to the end of 2019, not many people could have anticipated that a new coronavirus, and not an influenza virus, would be responsible for one of the major pandemics of the last 100 years."

Read more here.

11:15am - Traffic is reportedly gridlocked around the Saxton Field Community Testing Centre in Nelson after a person tested positive for COVID-19 in the Nelson-Marlborough region.

Locals have taken to social media to warn others of the congestion, with one saying there is "absolutely no traffic management in place". 

Footage posted to Facebook shows queues of cars snaking throughout the neighbouring streets as residents attempt to get swabbed.

Not much is known about the new case at this stage. The person's positive result was reported to the Ministry of Health after its 9am cut-off on Monday, meaning it will be added to Tuesday's tally.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, November 30
Photo credit: Facebook

11:05am - Vaccinated New Zealanders can "look forward to summer events with confidence" following the launch the Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni announced on Tuesday.

"The Government recognises that the arts and culture sector has been hit hard by COVID-19 and the Delta outbreak. The pandemic continues to pose challenges for the sector, especially live events and performances during summer," Carmel Sepuloni said.

"This Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme is about providing certainty for event organisers, confidence for vaccinated New Zealanders to attend and enjoy events, and reassurance for artists and crew that they can get paid if their events can't go ahead as planned.

"I know that artists, crew and organisers are all eager to get back to doing what they love – putting on great events of all sizes and scope for New Zealanders. Knowing that this scheme exists to support them will be a big help over the coming months."

The Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme covers events with attendee capacity of 100 to 5000 ticketed or un-ticketed, or more than 5000 un-ticketed (i.e. free). The scheme covers unrecoverable costs, payments yet to be made to the likes of artists and production crew, and reasonable costs to the promoter or organiser for the planning and development of the event.

"We've engaged closely with our arts and culture sector to develop the scheme, and we'll continue to work closely with the sector to ensure organisers know when, where and how to access the support they need," Sepuloni said.

"Events will need to use the Government's My Vaccine Pass in order to be eligible for the scheme. This is particularly important so that other vaccinated New Zealanders can enjoy confidence that the events they'll attend will be as safe as possible.

"Arts and culture are critically important to our economy. Our $374 million COVID recovery package for the sector, including the $37.5 million Emergency Relief Package announced in September, underlines the social, economic and cultural value of the sector. 

"I encourage New Zealanders to get out, enjoy the Kiwi summer and the freedoms it'll bring, book tickets, make plans to attend events and support local artists, musicians and shows. We all deserve to enjoy summer in Aotearoa with certainty and confidence. That's what this scheme is about and aims to guarantee."

10:45am - The Financial Services Council (FSC) quarterly data snapshot shows that total KiwiSaver funds under management have grown around $15.7 billion to $90.8 billion in the year to September 30, 2021, despite the significant challenges caused by COVID-19.

"It's great news that KiwiSaver has continued to show its resilience over the last year, despite the significant challenges that COVID-19 has presented," Richard Klipin, the chief executive of the FSC, said on Tuesday.

"The data shows that following an initial drop in total funds under management in April 2020, it quickly recovered in the following quarter and has continue to grow since. The initial uncertainty when COVID-19 arrived in New Zealand last year caused some Kiwis to change their Kiwisaver settings, which had an impact on KiwiSaver balances.

"Now in the face of the Delta variant and current restrictions, these trends underscore that a 'steady as we go' approach to KiwiSaver investment pays off in the long-term."

This week also sees the Government's change to just six providers of default KiwiSaver funds, who will provide default funds from December 1, 2021. The key changes implemented by the default providers include the automatic enrolment in a balanced rather than conservative fund, charging lower fees and not investing in fossil fuels or illegal weapons.

"FSC members have been working hard with Government and regulators to ensure a smooth transfer for KiwiSavers affected by the switch to the new default fund providers," Klipin said.

The lastest KiwiSaver trends highlight that over the last 12 months (to September 30, 2021):

  • Total KiwiSaver funds under management have increased to $90.8bn from $75.1bn.

  • 19 percent growth in KiwiSaver funds under management by FSC members.

  • Kiwis have contributed $6.32bn to KiwiSaver, and $2.42bn in the last 3 months.

  • There are now 2.97 million total number of KiwiSavers in funds managed by FSC members.

  • KiwiSaver average balances have risen steadily from $23,672 to $27,858.

  • Average contributions were $2169 in September last year, falling back to an average of $2138.

10:35am - In case you missed it, Health Minister Andrew Little is warning Kiwis they will be responsible for policing vaccine passes at their Christmas gatherings and if they don't, they could face a fine. 

Under the upcoming 'traffic light' system, vaccine passes are required to access a myriad of services including hospitality, retail and events. Businesses are expected to verify customers' My Vaccine Passes upon entry, or could face an infringement fee. 

The same rules apply to private gatherings. In the Red setting, a host can have up to 100 people in a private dwelling or home if they verify their guests' vaccine passes on arrival. Without vaccine passes, only a maximum of 25 people can meet in a private dwelling or home. 

On Tuesday, Little said people choosing to host larger gatherings will need to police their guests' vaccine passes.

"If these are people you know, they are family members, close friends, you trust them… that is going to be acceptable if they are regular contacts of yours and you know them then that's fine. Anybody else then you should be verifying with the Vaccine Pass app," he told The AM Show. 

"If there is an outbreak and it's traced back to your party and the question is asked... you could be liable for an infringement if you haven't enforced that rule."

Read more here.

10:10am - If you're planning to travel over the summer, here are some things you can do in the two weeks before the trip to reduce your risk of exposure:

  • Skip the office party (especially if they are held indoors)
  • Consider postponing meetings until after the holidays rather than having them during the days before people are likely to travel around the country
  • If you decide to go ahead, make sure gatherings and parties are outdoors
  • Avoid alcohol as it can increase the likelihood of risky behaviour
  • Limit yourself to one meeting per week (if someone is infected, you'll have a better chance to find out and self-isolate before passing it on)
  • Use your contact tracer app, always
  • Shop online
  • Wear a mask anywhere there is a crowd, even outdoors.

- via The Conversation.

9:50am - Here's a brief overview of what can be expected at the Red and Orange settings of the upcoming framework:

9:45am - Here's a recap of the regional 'traffic light' settings under the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

Northland, Auckland, Taupō and Rotorua Lakes Districts, the Kawerau, Whakatane and Ōpōtiki Districts, Gisborne District, Wairoa District, and the Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu Districts will move to Red, the most restrictive setting, as New Zealand transitions to the new framework. Everywhere else, including all of the South island, will enter the new system at Orange.

The Ministry of Health has also released a map to demonstrate the 'traffic light' colour for each region.

These settings will be reviewed later in December, with Cabinet to provide an update on December 13. The following update is scheduled for the week of Monday, January 17, and will continue to be reviewed on a fortnightly basis from then on.

9:35am - To recap, a technical brief released by the World Health Organization (WHO) says the new Omicron variant may be associated with "immune escape potential and higher transmissibility" - however, there are still "considerable" uncertainties.

According to the WHO, the main uncertainties are:

  • how transmissible the variant is and whether any increases [in cases] are related to immune escape, intrinsic increased transmissibility, or both
  • how well vaccines protect against infection, transmission, clinical disease of different degrees of severity and death
  • whether the variant presents a different severity profile. 

The public health advice is based on current information and will be tailored as more evidence emerges around those key questions.

Here's the technical brief from the WHO regarding the newly identified Omicron variant:

9:25am - Comments made by Health Minister Andrew Little to The AM Show on Tuesday have now been clarified.

During the interview, Little suggested that the Tairāwhiti/Gisborne region would need to vaccinate 90 percent of its eligible population, and eligible Māori, in order to move to the Orange setting of the COVID-19 Protection Framework in time for New Year's - and the iconic Gisborne-based Rhythm and Vines festival. 

This has not been outlined by the Government as a necessary step to transition through the framework, and caught The AM Show host Ryan Bridge off-guard.

In an email following the interview, Little's press secretary clarified that the minister was referring to his own "expectation and goals for the health system, and not explicitly about what would be needed for a particular area to change levels". 

"The Government is taking a cautious approach on traffic light settings and a range of things are being taken into account, including the presence of COVID-19 infections, vaccination rates and whether they are places where a lot of people are likely to travel to over the summer break," his press secretary told Newshub.

Little indicated that Rhythm and Vines would likely not go ahead this New Year's, telling The AM Show the organisers needed to "make a call".

9:15am - All New Zealand driver licences and licence endorsements that expired on or after July 21, 2021 will now be valid until May 31, 2022 due to the impacts of the ongoing outbreak, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced on Tuesday.

"This further extension to the validity of driver licenses recognises that the COVID-19 restrictions, especially in Auckland, have impacted people's ability to get their licence renewed," Wood said.

"The impact of COVID-19 and extended lockdowns has been hard on everyone, and this is one small thing that we can take off peoples' to do list until next year. The extension doesn't change the responsibility of drivers to be medically fit to drive, comply with relevant restrictions and conditions on their licence and obey all road rules. Any licence suspensions and disqualifications will also continue to apply."

The extension to the expiry date of Warrants of Fitness (WoFs), Certificates of Fitness (CoFs) and vehicle licences ('regos') has not been extended further. Any of these certifications that expired on or after July 21, 2021, will only be valid until November 30, 2021.

"Unlike driver licences, people have been able to get their WoFs, CoFs and regos under the alert level system, so the expiry date for these has not been extended," Wood explained.

"During the extension, over 1.2 million WoF and CoF inspections have been conducted, and over 1.1 million regos have been renewed. I encourage those people who haven't done theirs yet, to act fast to get it done before you take off for summer.

"I also urge everyone, before any trip, to check their vehicle is safe. We're asking drivers before they set off, to check your tyres, windscreen, wipers, mirrors, indicators, look for rust, and test your lights."

The extension applies to:

  • driver licences
  • driver licence endorsements (eg P endorsements that allow licence holders to carry passengers for a fee)
  • driver identification cards (eg those that are displayed in taxis).

9:05am - Gisborne locals say allowing the popular New Year's music festival Rhythm and Vines to go ahead would be an open invitation for COVID-19 to arrive.

At 75 percent, Gisborne/Tairāwhiti is currently the region with the lowest rate of vaccination, and will enter the 'Red' setting of the COVID-19 Protection Framework from Friday.

Unless that setting changes quickly to Orange, the country's biggest New Year's festival will be cancelled.

Locals walking in sun-soaked Tūranganui-a-Kiwa on Monday were firmly saying "no" to Rhythm and Vines this year.

"I really don't think R&V should go ahead at all, it just can't, it's just an invitation for us," one resident told RNZ.

"To be honest, I wouldn't want R&V here for the fact we are going through this coronavirus at the moment and with it being a concert and people having to stand so close to each other, we can't predict what's going to happen after the concert goes ahead, the [case] numbers may go up," one woman said.

"I am totally against R&V because [of] the risk of the infection coming in. They say there are tests but you always get those idiots that will come and sneak through," said another.

"People are going to come down to Gisborne anyway, but R&V, it's a huge amount of people and I think it does put our community at risk," another said.

The four iwi in Tairāwhiti - Te-Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri, Ngāti Porou and Rongowhakaata - have said no too, saying the 20,000 to 30,000 festival-goers would pose too much of a threat.

Read more here.

8:50am - Auckland businesses are hoping customers don't see red when the 'traffic light' system comes into play on Friday.

Northland will join the Auckland region in the Red setting, along with Taupō, Rotorua Lakes, Kawerau, Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki, Gisborne, Wairoa, Rangitīkei, Whanganui and Ruapehu districts. All other regions will enter the system in Orange.

Olaf's Artisan Bakery Cafe manager Oranna Blanke is delighted to be able to welcome customers back inside the Mt Eden venue.

"We're so, so happy that we can finally reopen."

The cafe's customers will need to tick three boxes to enter - scan in, show their My Vaccine Pass, and present some form of ID.

A front of house worker will be permanently stationed at the door to check these requirements before a customer is allowed to enter, but Blanke said they are reluctant to play the role of bouncer.

"I don't want to be policing people. That's exactly the opposite of what hospitality should be - we want to invite the customers in."

People need to be patient and remember to have both their ID and vaccine pass.

"I just hope people don't forget that they have to do these three steps. Otherwise, we have to be very firm."

Read more here.

8:40am - Australian officials said they will review some of the nation's reopening plans this week after reporting its first cases of the Omicron variant, but urged calm until the seriousness of the strain was determined.

Four people who arrived in Sydney from southern Africa on Sunday tested positive for the newly identified variant as officials ordered 14-day quarantine for citizens returning from nine African countries. A person who arrived in the Northern Territory from South Africa has also tested positive.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday that officials would be reviewing the plans to reopen Australia's international borders to skilled migrants and students from December 1. He said it is still too early to reinstate two-week mandatory quarantine for all foreign travellers, and urged patience while data determining the severity, transmissibility and vaccine resistance of the Omicron strain is gathered.

"We just take this one step at a time, get the best information, make calm, sensible decisions," Morrison told Nine News.

Read more here.

8:30am - The Government is fighting back against accusations that the settings of the COVID-19 Protection Framework are inconsistent and vague.

On Monday, the Government announced that a number of regions will enter the new 'traffic light' system at Red, the most restrictive step, with the South Island and some areas of the North Island to enter at Orange.

According to the initial outline of the framework's three settings - Red, Orange and Green - a region would enter the new regime at Red if the local health system was facing "an unsustainable number of hospitalisations" - a factor which has so far proved irrelevant. 

Speaking to The AM Show on Tuesday morning, Health Minister Andrew Little said the Red setting has instead been allocated to areas with community transmission or low vaccination rates as part of the Government's "cautious approach".

"The reasons why some places are in Red are either there are infections there or they're places where vaccination levels are low, or a combination of those things," he said.

He reiterated that a low rate of vaccination was a significant factor in assigning a region the Red setting. Whether or not a region is a hotspot for summer activity also played a role in the decisions, he added. 

"There are places where there are lower vaccination levels and lower Māori vaccination levels - and/or places where we expect people will travel to in numbers during the summer break, and a lot of people turning up - so we do need to have some precautions in place to stop the crowding," he said. 

8:15am - As scientists race to understand the consequences of Omicron, one of the most important questions is whether the new strain of the coronavirus can outrun the globally dominant Delta variant.

The World Health Organization on Friday designated Omicron a "variant of concern" just days after the variant was first reported in southern Africa. The WHO said it is coordinating with researchers worldwide to better understand how the variant will impact the pandemic, with new findings expected within "days and weeks".

Many questions remain, including whether Omicron will evade vaccine protection and whether it will cause more serious illness. But such characteristics would be far less concerning if the new variant remains relatively contained.

Several disease experts interviewed by Reuters said there are strong grounds already for believing that Omicron will render vaccines less effective. Omicron shares several key mutations with two previous variants, Beta and Gamma, that made them less vulnerable to vaccines. In addition, Omicron has 26 unique mutations, many of them in regions targeted by vaccine antibodies.

Within months, however, Delta spread far more quickly than any of its predecessors.

"So the question, really, is how transmissible Omicron is relative to Delta. That's the major, major, major thing that we need to know," said John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

Read more here.

8:05am - Health Minister Andrew Little says hosts of extended family gatherings this Christmas should be scanning the vaccine passes of any guests they don't know to verify their vaccination status.

He says if the host trusts their family and friends and knows they are vaccinated, they do not have to use the NZ Pass Verifier app to scan their vaccine certificates upon entry.

However, for any acquaintances or guests the host doesn't know, Little recommends scanning their My Vaccine Pass to ensure they are double-jabbed.

"If there's people you don't know, you should be scanning their Vaccine Pass," he told The AM Show.

When asked what the consequences could be if the host doesn't verify their guests' vaccination status, Little says they could be liable for an infringement fee if an outbreak is traced back to their home or gathering.

"If there's an outbreak, and it's traced back to your party, then questions are going to be asked... you could be liable for an infringement if you haven't enforced that rule," he said.

"Feels a bit weird, but again, this is about making sure that everyone turning up to your place is safe, safe from infection."

7:55am - The Ministry of Health has released a map showing which setting of the 'traffic light' system each region will be in under as New Zealand transitions to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday the Government is taking a "cautious approach initially" as the country shifts to the new framework, which will phase out the current alert level system.

"On Friday the traffic lights are turned on for all of New Zealand, as we move forward safely into the next phase of our world-leading COVID-19 response," Ardern said.

"We've prepared well for this moment by maintaining a cautious approach focused on protecting people and their jobs. Our next phase is focused on minimising the impact of COVID-19 and protecting people."

The Ministry of Health later released a map outlining which colour of the 'traffic light' each region will be under.

Check the map here.

7:45am - Dutch authorities said on Sunday (local time) that 13 cases of the new Omicron variant have been found in the Netherlands among passengers that travelled on two flights from South Africa. 

"It is not unlikely more cases will appear in the Netherlands," Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said at a press conference in Rotterdam. "This could possibly be the tip of the iceberg."

Meanwhile, Portugal detected 13 cases of the Omicron variant on Monday, all of whom are players and staff of the top division football club Belenenses SAD. One of the players recently returned from South Africa, health authority DGS said.

The diagnoses were made after the Lisbon club played a Primeira Liga match against Benfica on Saturday that started with only nine Belenenses players on the pitch due to an outbreak. Only seven players returned to the field after halftime, and the match was abandoned two minutes into the second half with Benfica leading 7-0.

Both Spain and Sweden have recorded one case of Omicron each. The first probable case of the variant has also been detected in Switzerland as the country tightened its entry restrictions.

Here's the latest on the pandemic from around the world overnight.

7:35am - The Omicron variant of coronavirus carries a "very high" global risk, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned as more countries report cases of the worrying strain, prompting border closures and reviving worries about the economic recovery from a two-year pandemic.

Scientists have said it could take weeks to understand the severity of Omicron, which was first identified in southern Africa. Its emergence has caused a strong global reaction, with countries imposing travel curbs and other restrictions in a bid to seal off their populations. 

Spooked investors wiped roughly $2 trillion off global stocks on Friday. Financial markets were calmer on Monday, even after Japan, the world's third-largest economy, said it would close its borders to foreigners.

The WHO advised its 194 member nations that any surge in infections could have "severe consequences", but said no deaths linked to the Omicron variant have been reported so far.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Omicron's emergence demonstrated the "perilous and precarious" nature of the pandemic.

A top South African infectious disease expert said Omicron appears to be more transmissible than previous variants, including to people with immunity from vaccination or prior infection. South African cases are likely to top 10,000 a day this week, rocketing up from 2858 on Sunday and barely 300 a day two weeks ago, Professor Salim Abdool Karim said.

But he added it is too early to say whether symptoms are more severe, noting that existing COVID-19 vaccines are probably effective at preventing Omicron from causing severe illness.

On Sunday, a South African doctor - one of the first to suspect a new strain - said Omicron so far appeared to be producing mild symptoms in their patients.

Read more here.

7:25am - Iconic Kiwi New Years' festival Rhythm and Vines is all but cancelled, according to Health Minister Andrew Little.

Although the festival hasn't officially been called off by its organisers, Tairāwhiti/Gisborne will be entering the COVID-19 Protection Framework at Red, the most restrictive setting. For large-scale events to go ahead, the region would need to be in Orange - and it has about four weeks to get there.

Little said vaccination rates would definitely need to "go up" to make a transition to Orange possible ahead of the festivities.

"We definitely need to see the vaccination rates in Tairāwhiti go up, particularly for Māori," he said.

"Vaccination levels have to get up to that 90 percent, including for Māori."

He noted that even at the Orange setting, only fully vaccinated people would be able to attend.

Currently, only 68 percent of eligible Māori nationwide are fully vaccinated. As of November 22, just 62 percent of eligible Māori in Tairāwhiti had been vaccinated with their second dose.

The AM Show host Ryan Bridge pointed out that achieving that rate of vaccination before New Years is nigh impossible. 

"In two weeks, you would have to say minister, R&V is off?" he pressed.

"That will be a call that the organisers are going to have to make, they know the conditions - it's all laid out for them," Little said.

7:20am - Kia ora, good morning, and welcome to Newshub's live coverage on the COVID-19 outbreak for Tuesday, November 30.