As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, December 7

There are 96 new COVID-19 cases in New Zealand on Tuesday after Monday's infection tally of 135.

But there are grim predictions of rising COVID-19 case numbers, with Auckland now released from lockdown and the traffic light system taking effect across New Zealand.

What you need to know:

  • There are 96 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday; 74 in Auckland, 10 in Waikato, eight in Bay of Plenty, one in Taranaki and five in Nelson.
  • Sixty-six people are in hospital with COVID-19, seven of whom are in intensive care or high dependency units.
  • Fiordland National Park's Green Lake Department of Conservation hut has been added to the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 locations of interest list.
  • 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.
  • Workers covered by the My Vaccine Pass mandate - staff working at businesses that are required to use jab certificates to fully operate - must have their first immunisation by December 3 and be fully vaccinated by January 17.
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest locations of interest here.

These live updates have finished.

7:10pm - National's health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says Health Minister Andrew Little has made a "shocking" admission that extra ICU beds won't be ready until June next year.

"After spending the last year claiming everything was fine, the Government finally accepted the obvious last week and announced funding for new ICU beds," Reti says.

"But today during Parliamentary Question Time, Health Minister Andrew Little admitted the much needed ICU beds won't be ready until June next year. By that point we will be 27 months into a global pandemic."

Reti says the Government has "wasted" almost two years "pretending this wasn't an issue".

"The Government's failure to invest in ICU beds appears to be one of the reasons why Auckland is still stuck at the red traffic light setting, despite being one of the most vaccinated cities in the world.

"New Zealanders deserve better and National will continue to hold this Government to account for its woeful lack of delivery."

6:40pm - Whānau Ora chief executive John Tamihere says "faceless unelected bureaucrats" have been proven wrong again following its latest High Court victory of Māori vaccination data.

But he is concerned there could be another delay to the release of information over the vaccination status of data on unvaccinated North Island Māori.

The Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency had already forced the Ministry to give it some information but pursued further court action to get the rest released. Last night the High Court again directed the Ministry to review its decision not to hand over any more details.

Tamihere told RNZ's Morning Report, while the court had directed the release of information on unvaccinated Maori, it give Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloom discretion to deny the agency access to Māori needing a second vaccination jab.

The ministry said it was now taking steps to meet the court's requirements and was consulting with a number of iwi who had worries about releasing the information.

"You either reward people who can put needles in arms in terms of positive vaccinations, in offers in communities where Mr Bloomfield and his friends have failed," Tamihere said.

"The High Court has again advised them within three days to release the data sets of unvaccinated Māori. That is a clear ruling. The second ruling made is Māori requiring their second vaccination release the information. but you've got three days to review that decision.

"So the first decision is to release unvaccinated Māori data and that is a no-brainer. It should have been done in September and we wouldn't be in any strife.

"The second one gives Bloomfield another discretion to deny us access to non-vaccinated second-requirement jab people. In the court case Bloomfield argued that we should wait eight weeks before he gives that information over. Why eight weeks when people can get vaccinated again in three weeks is iniquitous."

Read the full story here.

6:10pm - There are three new locations of interest. They are:

  • Tenpin Tauranga, November 30 from 10:45am to 2pm
  • The Warehouse Cameron Road Tauranga, November 30 from 5:15pm to 6:30pm
  • The Warehouse Kaitaia, December 2 from 8am to 5pm.

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

5:40pm - The Jewish community is horrified after a man called Subway workers "Nazis" when they asked for his COVID-19 vaccine pass.  

The video was filmed in the Waiuku branch of Subway. It shows a man repeatedly calling two young Subway workers  "fascists" for enforcing the law.

"I don't believe in a Nazi fascist state, okay?" he tells the Subway workers. "Do you guys want that for New Zealand?

"Are you okay with everyone having a vaccine pass?"

The staff remained calm and politely asked the man to leave the store.

The man then says, "do you want that for your children and New Zealand."

The staff again ask the man to leave the store, before he turns the camera on himself and starts encouraging his followers to boycott Subway.

Read the full story here.

5:10pm - There are two new locations of interest. They are:

  • Fourteenth Avenue Dairy Tauranga, November 30 from 1pm to 3pm
  • Pak'nSave Cameron Road Tauranga, November 30 from 6:15pm to 8:15pm.

4:55pm - Christopher Luxon's first interrogation of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sparked a brouhaha in Parliament as National and Labour MPs rallied behind their leaders. 

Luxon, who was elected National Party leader last week after the caucus ousted Judith Collins in a vote of no confidence, used his first opportunity to lock horns with Ardern to interrogate her COVID-19 response. 

"Why did her Government spend more than $50 billion from its COVID fund before announcing any funding for extra ICU beds?" Luxon asked Ardern in the House on Tuesday. 

Ardern's response was met with an explosion of laughter and jeering. 

"Well, I reject that question."

The Government's intensive care unit capacity in hospitals has often been criticised by the Opposition. It was only four days ago that Health Minister Andrew Little announced a boost of hundreds of millions of dollars for ICU capacity - almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But Ardern argued that additional ICU beds are only part of the solution. She pointed to the nearly 1400 extra nurses trained to be able to work in an ICU environment under supervision

"One of the most important things that needed to be provided are not just the beds but the staffing of the beds. Five nurses are required for every ICU..."

Ardern had to pause due to jeering from the Opposition benches. 

"Five ICU nurses are required per bed, so not only have we got 300 ICU or high dependency unit beds and the ability to surge to 500, we put aside funding in the Budget to ensure that we could train the staff required for the additional beds that we have."

Read the full story here.

4:30pm - Twenty-five pupils and three staff members are isolating after a student at St Anne's Catholic School in Manurewa tested positive for COVID-19.

The student tested positive on December 4 and principal Glen Ryan was notified of the result on Monday afternoon, the NZ Herald reports.

The pupil was last at school on Thursday, December 2.

The 28 people who are isolating and getting tested were those that were identified and considered close contacts.

All staff are fully vaccinated and all contacts were wearing masks, Ryan says.

He adds the school has reached out to the positive student's family to provide them with food and pastoral care to support their focus on recovering.

4:05pm - The ACT Party has secured an urgent debate in Parliament about the deaths of New Zealanders who were isolating at home with COVID-19.

Deputy leader and health spokesperson Brooke van Velden says the debate isn't about politics, it's people and the lives that have been lost.

"Thousands of New Zealanders are relying on the Government to provide a self-isolation system that can look after them and keep them safe from COVID-19. The most important thing Parliament can do is to provide confidence to the public that the system will work," she says.

"Because of that there are questions the Government needs to answer. Where are the pulse oximeters for every COVID positive case in self-isolation? Why isn't the Ministry of Health as available on the phone as it should be? Why isn't there more consistency with care and calls? Are we doing everything we can to secure enough ICU workers?"

Van Velden says ACT will ask these questions during this afternoon's debate on behalf of sick and vulnerable New Zealanders.

"The Government had more than 18 months to prepare for the Delta variant. Instead of spending that time preparing the country, it spent the time patting itself on the back for its eradication strategy and 'doing a little dance'," she says.

"The ACT Party sends our condolences to those who have lost loved ones to this virus, we will continue to hold the Government to account for its response to COVID-19."

Brooke van Velden.
Brooke van Velden. Photo credit: Getty Images

3:35pm - There are four DHBs remaining that need to reach the 90 percent first dose milestone.

These are Northland (5538 doses remaining), Tairawhiti (506 doses remaining), Whanganui (623 doses remaining), and West Coast (100 doses remaining).

Five DHBs have surpassed the 90 percent second dose rate. These are Waitemata, Auckland, Capital and Coast, Canterbury, and Southern.

But some are getting close to this milestone. Counties Manukau has vaccinated 89 percent of its eligible population, with just 7209 second doses to go, and Hutt Valley, also on 89 percent, has 1917 second doses remaining.

You can read a full breakdown of vaccine data here.

3:10pm - ACT leader David Seymour says the Government is making ad hoc decisions on COVID-19 that don't meet its own criteria.

He says New Zealanders need "clarity, certainty and common sense" to buy into the traffic light system.

"The Government's traffic light system says a region will be in red when the health system faces an 'unsustainable number of hospitalisations'. It's clear the health system isn't being overwhelmed right now," Seymour says.

"Ashley Bloomfield said six days ago that 'our hospitalisations have very much levelled off across Tāmaki Makaurau'.

"Today in Parliament, Jacinda Ardern agreed and said there had been a decline in hospitalisations. She explained the decision to put Auckland in red by saying at the start of the traffic light system the Government would be doing things differently."

Seymour asks what the point is in having criteria "if you're not going to use it".

"New Zealanders should be able to look at a government website and know what they read is correct. None of it makes any sense. As usual, the Government is just making it up as it goes along," he says.

"If the hospital system in regions at red aren't facing an unsustainable number of hospitalisations, why on earth are those places at red?"

He adds there's "no logic" in the South Island being at orange if it doesn't meet the criteria of having community transmission.

"Labour's logic at the border is also lacking. Does the risk of fully-vaccinated, negative-tested New Zealanders returning home and self-isolating really outweigh the benefit of them spending Christmas with their families when thousands who've tested positive can self-isolate?" Seymour says.

"Meanwhile, keeping the border closed until April, while Australian and Canadian schools and universities are back in the market for international students, seriously holds back the economy.

"The Government needs to start balancing all of the costs of COVID-19."

2:40pm - The University of Otago will mandate vaccines for anyone on its premises from January 10.

"This decision has not been made lightly," Vice-Chancellor Helen Nicholson wrote in an email, the University of Otago's student magazine Critic reports.

"Ultimately, mandatory vaccination gives us the safest way to operate the University in a manner that is as close to normal as possible.

"This gives our students, the heart of our institution, the best chance to receive the high-quality education they expect from us. It means we can offer on-campus learning at all COVID-19 Protection Framework levels, and close to the normal student experience which Otago prides itself on."

There will be a limited selection of online courses for students who have chosen not to be vaccinated. Students who have paid for courses they will no longer be able to attend are eligible for full refunds.

2:25pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is "working through how we might enable the public to raise concerns" about COVID-19 vaccine pass compliance.

Ardern's comments came after New Zealanders experienced their first weekend in the new COVID-19 Protection Framework, or 'traffic light' system, which has permanently replaced the alert levels. 

Freedoms are now determined by vaccination status and over the weekend there were reports of fraudulent vaccine certificates being used to enter premises restricted to the unvaccinated, such as hospitality venues. 

In March 2020, an online form was set up by police to report incidents of alert level breaches, which crashed after it was flooded with complaints. The Government is now looking to set up something similar for vaccine pass complaints. 

"We do want to make sure that if passes aren't being checked, the public have a way to raise concerns if there are any, so we're working through how we might enable people to do that if they have concerns," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. 

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Wood told Newshub it would be similar to the police-run alert level complaint system, but would instead be led by WorkSafe. 

"Cabinet's already agreed to provide additional resourcing to WorkSafe who will primarily be the government agency who deals with these issues," Wood said on Tuesday. 

"The approach that WorkSafe always takes when they receive complaints - and they'll be receiving complaints and they'll be responding to those - is to get alongside the business or the PBCU [Person Conducting A Business] to educate and support them to be compliant, but then if necessary to enforce."

Read the full story here.

2pm - The Waikato DHB has given an update on today's new cases in the region.

Of the 10 new confirmed cases there, three are in Te Kūiti, two each in Ōtorohanga, Huntly, and Tokoroa, and one in Hamilton. 

One of today's cases has been linked to previous cases, with the remainder under investigation. 

There are two COVID-positive patients in hospital, with one in ICU.

1:40pm - Here are the vaccination rates by DHBs with active COVID-19 cases.


  • First doses - 87 percent of eligible people
  • Second doses - 79 percent.

Auckland metro DHBs:

  • First doses - 95 percent
  • Second doses - 91 percent.


  • First doses - 92 percent
  • Second doses - 86 percent.

Bay of Plenty:

  • First doses - 92 percent
  • Second doses - 84 percent.


  • First doses - 90 percent
  • Second doses - 82 percent.


  • First doses - 94 percent
  • Second doses - 86 percent.

Hawke's Bay:

  • First dose - 93 percent
  • Second dose - 85 percent.


  • First doses - 91 percent
  • Second doses - 84 percent.


  • First doses - 89 percent
  • Second doses - 81 percent.


  • First doses - 93 percent
  • Second doses - 87 percent.


  • First doses - 97 percent
  • Second doses - 91 percent.

1:23pm - Meanwhile, more information has been provided by the police about iwi checkpoints in Northland. The below is from Northland District Commander Supt Tony Hill:

Following discussions with local iwi and community, police will set up and manage two short-term controlled checkpoints south of Whangārei once the northern boundary is disbanded.

These checkpoints will be located on State Highway 1 at Uretiti and the second on SH12 near Maungaturoto and will focus on northbound traffic only.

Police will be very mindful of traffic flows, but the public can expect they may be stopped and spoken to by police to ensure they are abiding by the requirements of the Public Health Order.

This means travellers into the region will need to show proof of vaccination status or a negative COVID-19 test.

The rules around this are on the COVID-19 website for travel at the red and orange settings under the COVID-19 Protection Framework. These checkpoints will operate 24/7 short term, police will then move to a new model which will involve having random checkpoints and spot checks across the district to check that people are continuing to comply with the travel restrictions.

In total, police will have 74 staff working on a roster to operate the checkpoints on a 24/7 basis.

The staff for these checkpoints will come from both Northland and other police districts.

As we have done previously with the existing Auckland borders, we are able to deploy staff from other districts to support this work.

This ensures we can meet other demands on police as we do for all popular holiday spots during the summer months.

Police will be stopping the vehicles and Tai Tokerau Border Control will be assisting us to check vaccine passes and or proof of a negative COVID-19 test, to ensure as smooth and quick as possible a process through the checkpoints. We are mindful that traffic through this region is normally busy at this time of year and motorists will know they need to plan their trip and be prepared.

The checkpoints will not be stopping every car and will not hold up traffic unnecessarily or impede essential travel but travellers should be prepared and expect to be stopped.

1:21pm - Below is an update on COVID-19 hospitalisations:

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, December 7
Photo credit: Ministry of Health

1:19pm - The Southern District Health Board has become the fifth DHB in New Zealand to reach 90 percent fully vaccinated.

"There were 24,913 total vaccine doses administered yesterday, including 4,571 first doses and 10,652 second doses," a Ministry of Health spokeswoman said. "To date, 93 percent of eligible people in New Zealand have had their first dose and 88 percent are fully vaccinated."

1:16pm - The Ministry of Health is reporting 96 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Full details are below:

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

There are no new cases to report in Lakes, Hawke’s Bay, MidCentral, Whanganui or Canterbury. There is also a border case currently under investigation in the Southern DHB area.

This person returned an initial weak positive test and a second test has returned a negative result.

Public health staff are currently awaiting serology results for the person.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Ministry of Health has published one location of interest.

We would like to remind people of the importance of getting a test, especially if you were at or around the location of interest at the time or generally if you have any symptoms, no matter how mild they maybe.

Testing details around the DHB region are on the Healthpoint website.

1:15pm - Still waiting on Tuesday's update from the Ministry of Health. We'll bring you the latest COVID-19 case numbers as soon as they come in.

12:45pm - National leader Christopher Luxon and ACT's David Seymour are both speaking out in opposition to police-led iwi checkpoints at the Auckland-Northland border.

"It isn't a good use of resources," Luxon told reporters on Tuesday. 

"There's got to be a better way of doing this because it's disrupting a lot of people, it's unclear how it's going to work, how long trips are going to take, how many checkpoints you're going to be going through, what it means for tourism operators in that region, and I just think there's going to be some real challenges there."

Seymour was equally opposed.

"It is the dangerous side of Jacinda's kindness - When you've got a Prime Minister who can't stand up for what's right and always tries to meet in the middle, what gradually happens is that ordinary people's rights get swept away."

12:30pm - The Ministry of Health will provide the latest COVID-19 case numbers via a news release, due at 1pm. We will bring you that data as soon as it comes to hand.

12:15pm - There are fears the Omicron variant of COVID-19 could be the dominant strain in the UK within weeks.

United Kingdom health minister Sajid Javid said there is now community transmission of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus across regions of England but it is too early to say if this will "knock us off our road to recovery".

Javid said there are now 261 Omicron cases in England, 71 in Scotland and four in Wales - a total of 336.

12pm - Canada's tight labour market is forcing many companies to offer regular COVID-19 testing over vaccine mandates, while others are reversing previously announced jab requirements even as Omicron variant cases rise.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government adopted one of the strictest vaccine policies in the world for civil servants and has already put more than 1000 workers on unpaid leave, with thousands more at risk.

But following through has proven less straightforward, especially as employers grapple with staffing shortages and workers demand exemptions.


11:45am - New Zealanders are being urged to stay vigilant on COVID-19 following the country's move to the traffic light system.

Nelson as seen a surge in Delta cases, with 19 reported in total.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker says there will likely been a spike in COVID-19 cases during summer.

"We need to wait probably a couple of weeks to see the effects of the move to the traffic light system," he told Newshub. "Where I think we would expect to see a chance, of course, is in Auckland because… established transmission is already widespread."

11:30am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says there is in fact data being handed over by the Ministry of Health to Whānau Ora.

Ardern believes a compromise needs to be made.

"The court's taken a position - now we just need to get on with fixing it," Ardern said.

11:23am - Cold water is being poured on the idea the Ministry of Health is refusing to hand over COVID-19 vaccination data to a Māori health provider.

Whānau Ora commissioning agency has won its second court battle for information about North Island Māori vaccinations.

But COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the Ministry of Health has been caught in the middle.

 "Not all iwi have been in one mind on this and some of the iwi have been, actually, opposed to Whānau Ora being released the data.

"The ministry, I think, have been trying to navigate a way that gives Whānau Ora more data but also preserves the relationship they have with other iwi."

11:04am - Fiordland National Park's Green Lake Department of Conservation hut has been added to the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 locations of interest list.

Described as a potentially "high risk" exposure event, anyone at the hut between 7pm on Saturday and 8am on Sunday should self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19 immediately and again five days after exposure.

10:59am - The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday advised United States citizens against travel to France, Jordan, Portugal and Tanzania, citing COVID-19 concerns.

Eighty-three destinations are now listed at "Level 4: Very High" classification by the CDC and also on Monday added Andorra, Cyprus and Liechtenstein to the highest travel advisory level.

France said on Monday it would close nightclubs ahead of Christmas and tighten social distancing measures in response to the emergent Omicron variant of the coronavirus but there was no need for new lockdowns or curfews.


10:45am - Oxfam believes it's time to force the hand of pharmaceutical companies to reveal life-saving COVID vaccine formulas.

The charity claims the firms are gatekeeping information which was funded by public money.

But Oxfam Aotearoa's Jo Spratt says there's a way around it.

"The only way we're going to stop this pandemic is to get the vaccination to everybody as quickly as possible. The longer we leave it… the coronavirus mutates and it can become worse for us and it's just going to keep going around and around the world until we get everybody vaccinated," Spratt told The AM Show.

10:30am - ACT Party leader David Seymour never misses a chance to blast the Government's COVID-19 response.

Speaking to The AM Show on Tuesday, he said he had one regret about 2021.

"When Jacinda [Ardern] said we were having a 'short, sharp' lockdown I believed her and I left my car in the short term parking at Auckland Airport. The bill was like almost $3000.

"Auckland International Airport Ltd - they thankfully waived the bill for people stuck in that situation because really, in hindsight, it was silly to believe Jacinda about it being short and sharp."

10:15am - The Cook Islands' first case of COVID-19 is a false alarm - with the infection likely historical.

A 10-year-old boy returned a weak positive result after arriving in the country from New Zealand at the weekend but has since tested negative.

Cook Islands Health Secretary Bob Williams says a blood test is being back to New Zealand to ensure the case is historical.

He says while the Cook Islands' strict protocols are working, it shows how important it is to remain vigilant.

10am - A man has been arrested after bar staff were threatened reportedly over a COVID-19 vaccine pass in Dunedin.

Police said a 46-year-old man has been charged with wilful damage and possession of an offensive weapon following the incident on Sunday.

9:45am - Italy has tightened restrictions on people still not vaccinated against COVID-19, limiting their access to an array of places and services.

The measures were announced last month, even before the discovery of the Omicron variant, and come as cases of coronavirus are starting to tick up across the country, albeit at a slower rate than in many other European nations.

Under the new rules, only people who have been vaccinated or have recently recovered from COVID-19 can access indoor seating at bars and restaurants, visit museums, go to cinemas and clubs and attend sporting events.


9:30am - Two cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Fiji.

The pair, both Fijian citizens, travelled to the country from Africa last week and have been in quarantine.

Officials say the indications are community spread has been avoided.

"The evidence on Omicron variant’s impact on the transmissibility of the virus, severity of disease, and effect of prior immunity (from vaccination or infection) is still in the very early stages so conclusions cannot be made yet," the Fiji government said in a statement.

"However, the preliminary evidence is that this variant may be more transmissible than the Delta variant; it may cause reinfection in people who have been previously infected with another variant; and it has been seen to infect people who are fully vaccinated - although, so far, the fully vaccinated cases have been generally mild or with no symptoms.

"Therefore, it must be re-emphasised that, if a variant is transmissible enough, stringent border and community measures will only delay the inevitable entry and spread of current and future variants of the COVID-19 virus, especially as the Omicron variant is also spreading into some of our travel partner countries. To protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our country, we must all get vaccinated when it is our turn."

9:15am - Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles is reminding people the best defence against COVID-19 is the vaccine.

It comes after the Government ordered 60,000 doses of Pfizer's new antiviral medication - due to arrive in New Zealand in April.

While early tests of the medication are promising, Dr Wiles says it's no miracle drug.

"If we don't use them wisely then the microbes can basically evolve to become resistant to them and so they are a very precious resource - that's why these are not a replacement for vaccines." 

9am - Whānau Ora is challenging health officials to step up and release Māori COVID-19 vaccination data.

It comes after the High Court has ruled the Ministry of Health must review its decision to withhold such information.

Whānau Ora's Merepeka Raukawa-Tait says the ministry isn't doing enough.

"There's no time to waste," she told The AM Show. "We need that data, we want that data and it's now just time for the Ministry of Health to pull finger and get on with it."

8:45am - Epidemiologist Michael Baker is making a grim prediction of rising COVID-19 case numbers as the traffic light system takes effect.

Monday's latest daily case tally was 135 - no signs of spiking yet after New Zealand enjoyed its first full weekend of freedom since the Delta outbreak in August.

But Prof Baker, from the University of Otago, says that's unlikely to last forever.

"We need to wait probably a couple of weeks to see the effects of the move to the traffic light system," he told Newshub. "Where I think we would expect to see a chance, of course, is in Auckland because… established transmission is already widespread."