As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak, Parliament protest - Monday, February 21

The Ministry of Health has announced a slight drop in cases with 2365 new infections and 116 people in hospital on Monday.

The ministry also announced two people had died with COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, one at Middlemore Hospital and the other at Auckland City. 

Meanwhile, police and anti-mandate protesters faced off in the early hours of Monday morning as officers conducted a traffic management operation that saw concrete barriers put in place and a "handful" of people arrested.

What you need to know:

  • There were 2365 new community COVID cases in New Zealand on Monday.
  • Location of new community cases: 1692 are in Auckland, 136 in Waikato, 105 in Canterbury, 89 in Capital and Coast, 86 in Southern, 58 in Nelson Marlborough, 50 in Northland, 42 in Bay of Plenty, 24 in Lakes, 23 in Hawke’s Bay, 19 in Hutt Valley, 14 in MidCentral, nine in Tairāwhiti, eight in Wairarapa, five in Whanganui, four in Taranaki and one South Canterbury.
  • Number of new cases identified at the border on Monday: 12
  • Cases in hospital on Monday: Total number 116; 47 are in Auckland, 34 in Middlemore, 20 in North Shore, 12 in Waikato, one in Northland, one in Tauranga and one in Tairāwhiti.
  • The Parliament protest is into day 14 with police and protesters facing off in the early hours of Monday morning as officers conducted a traffic management operation
  • You can see the latest locations of interest here.

These live updates have finished.

6:50pm - Aucklanders are facing very long waits in queues to get tested for COVID-19.

Queues at testing stations in the city on Monday were at a standstill and were as bad as they've ever been.

I didn't know it was going to be like this. I have a hospital appointment on Thursday, I have to have a test," one person in a queue tells Newshub.

The long-awaited promise of rapid antigen tests (RATs) did little to quicken the queues.

"The logical thing to me would be to pass RATs out along the line, don't know why they're not doing that," another says.

"I hoped it would've been faster than sitting in a queue waiting for it," a third says.

The Te Atatu testing station had to be briefly closed to deal with excess traffic and frustrated motorists.

Read and watch the full story from Newshub's Tom McRae here.

6:20pm - ACT's tourism spokesperson Dr James McDowall says tourism providers in New Zealand "don't have to ask 'where the bloody hell are ya,' they know they’re across the ditch" since Australia is beginning to welcome vaccinated travellers to enter without self-isolation.

"Meanwhile, here in New Zealand, the Government's border reopening strategy, lasting until 

October 2022, doesn't factor in isolation-free travel at any stage," he says.

"Its border reopening strategy doesn’t actually reopen the border, and is out of step with World Health Organization recommendations and the rest of the world.

"That hasn't stopped the Government spending taxpayer money on Google and Facebook advertising, promoting New Zealand as a tourist destination despite the fact that they've slammed the door shut."

McDowall says while the Government's strategy gives certainty to the tourism sector, "it's the wrong kind of certainty" because they aren't going to see tourists from overseas any time soon.

"Tourism businesses, many of them small, have battled it out through the pandemic and yet still aren't able to gear up packages for either spring or summer 2022/23," he says.

"The very least the Government could do is commit to a date before the summer season where travellers will be able to come into New Zealand without isolation.

"ACT says that MIQ is no longer a useful mechanism for protecting New Zealanders, given Omicron is circulating heavily in the community. Omicron is here, the peak is not far away. As the rest of the world moves on, it's time we gave our tourism and hospitality sectors a break and moved on too."

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

5:40pm - Heart of the City fears that the financial support announced for businesses won't be enough because they've been "disproportionately hit" by COVID-19.

January was down 43 percent on January 2020, meaning that it may be difficult for some businesses to meet the eligibility criteria for the COVID support payment, requiring a loss of revenue of 40 percent, they say.

"We need to make sure our businesses can get through this next phase, so it's heartening that there has been a response to the very loud calls for support," says chief executive Viv Beck.

"However, we are concerned that it’s not going to be enough and that the criteria may unfairly rule some out, particularly given the dismal trading in January. The central city has been severely hit and many were struggling even before we hit the Omicron wave."

Beck adds that they'd hoped there'd be a different approach taken to the loan scheme which would mean businesses who need it could access more money that is easy to repay/

"The mass loss of workers when we went back into the red light has had a massive impact on our businesses and it's great that some chief executives are publicly speaking about the importance of getting people safely back to the office," Beck says.

"Reassessing the isolation policy and ensuring all businesses have access to RAT tests is vital to help keep them open and provide confidence for customers."

5:10pm - Rapid antigen testing (RAT) will be available at Waikato Community Testing Centres from tomorrow, with the Greenwood and Founders Theatre car park testing sites the first to provide RATs to those who fit the appropriate clinical criteria.

The sites will determine which test is best for people who turn up for a test, the Waikato DHB says.

"RATs will be rolled out to the other Waikato testing sites throughout the week depending on the demand for testing in those areas. At this time, please do not visit your GP or pharmacy for a RAT test or call them for guidance on RAT eligibility at Community Testing Centres. We will be providing further updates on the rollout to other testing providers as it progresses," the Waikato DHB says.

"The use of rapid antigen testing, alongside PCR testing, will speed up the testing process as demand increases. As the outbreak grows more people will have COVID-19 and there will be more close contacts we need to test. The Government has confirmed that there are good stocks of RATs to support the public health response."

4:50pm - Vaccine passes and some mandates will be done away with after New Zealand's Omicron outbreak peaks, which is likely to occur by the end of March, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Based on the experience seen in some countries, there could be a "rapid decline" in cases following the peak, before they stabilise at a lower level, she said. It would be at this point where "we can start to do things differently", with Ardern mentioning that the traffic light settings will change.  

"The COVID Protection Framework is built to keep our hospitals and wider health system running. Once we come out the other side of the peak, it will be clearer that we've reached our high point and that we have managed it, that our hospitals have managed and we can begin to ease the public health measures that did the job in slowing the wave down."

Other tools used to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable populations may also be removed at this point. That includes vaccine passes, which Ardern described as "the least bad option" in the face of Delta and Omicron. 

"Vaccine passes were a way of ensuring that within the relatively free system of the traffic lights, that people who were in high-risk places had some layer of protection," Ardern said.

"But once we come through a wave and a peak of Omicron, that equation changes because many unvaccinated people at that point will have been exposed to COVID 19. 

"Put simply, the reason we will be able to move away from vaccine passes and many mandates is because more people will have had COVID."

While vaccine mandates will be eased in some places where they are less likely to impact on vulnerable people, they will remain "important in some areas for some time". 

Read the full story here.

4:35pm - Wellington Police area prevention manager Warwick McKee says there are a "small number of staff" working out of the Wellington Central Police Station who have tested positive for COVID-19.

They are isolating along with their close contacts.

"Wellington District, like all our police districts, is well experienced at responding to critical events and adapting our delivery to changing demands and needs," McKee says.

"We have been planning and preparing for the delivery of policing services in the COVID-19 and more specifically the Omicron environment.

"While these may be challenging times, we are focussed on ensuring the health and wellbeing of our people and delivering the policing service the community expects."

4:20pm - The Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce says it welcomes the announcement of targeted financial support.

"Announcing targeted financial support to those who have been most impacted as a result of the restrictions that businesses are facing is good news - especially for the Canterbury region where some businesses are facing the possibility of closure," says chief executive Leeann Watson.

"The announcement this afternoon will help keep some business afloat as the peak of Omicron hits, but ultimately what will have the most meaningful impact is a reduction in self-isolation periods and widespread availability of rapid antigen testing.

"Businesses are closing because they just do not have enough staff available to operate with many stuck at home self-isolating. Financial support will help alleviate financial pressure; it will not help with workforce supply.

"We hope that the Government continues to listen to business and learn from overseas experiences - which has taught us that reduced self-isolation periods are crucial for minimising the impact on businesses as living with widespread COVID-19 transmission becomes the new normal."

4:10pm - There are eight new locations of interest. They are:

  • Flight NZ8262 Wellington to Tauranga, February 8 from 7:15pm to 8:30pm
  • Flight JQ286 Christchurch to Wellington, February 11 from 6:15am to 7:40am
  • Bus, Route 72M Meadowland Drive to Harrison Road Bus Stop, February 11 from 3pm to 3:30pm
  • Flight NZ691 Auckland to Wellington, February 11 from 7:30pm to 8:30pm
  • Flight NZ457, Auckland to Wellington, February 11 from 8pm to 9:02pm
  • The Bungalow Coastal Retreat, New Plymouth, February 12 from 7pm to 11pm
  • Flight NZ644 Queenstown to Christchurch, February 13 from 10:20am to 11:15am
  • Saturdays, Night Club, Auckland, February 19 from 12:05pm to 1:30pm.

4pm - The Restaurant Association says it welcomes the new financial support package for businesses, announced this afternoon.

"Hospitality businesses are bleeding cash at the moment so this will bring some very welcome relief to business owners," says Marisa Bidois, CEO of the Restaurant Association.

The new financial support payment offers businesses able to show a 40 percent decrease in revenue within the six weeks prior to the shift to phase 2 will be able to apply for $4000 plus $400 per employee, capped at $24,000 or 50 employees.

"Whilst we're relieved to see this payment coming now, we would like to have seen the threshold slightly lower at 30 percent, to reflect the average losses our members are reporting and more fairly reflect the accumulative effect of the revenue drops which members are experiencing year on year," Bidois says.

"However, we are still confident that this will be a big help to so many small businesses struggling to cover basic costs right now."

The Restaurant Association says it also welcomes the return of the small business loan scheme which offers businesses the opportunity to access up to $10,000 to be paid back within the next five years.

"Omicron is having a sizable effect on our industry right now which sadly we don't see changing imminently," Bidois says.

"CBDs are empty and many are still hesitant to spend time in public spaces and this is going to continue to hit hospitality hard, so this support package could not have come sooner."

3:55pm - The press conference has finished.

3:52pm - Ardern has a simple message to curious protest onlookers in Wellington: "Do not attend."

"I do not think for a moment that differences in opinion mean we are divided as a nation," she says.

3:49pm - Robertson confirms that there is enough money available to meet the costs of additional business support.

3:45pm - Ardern says that Omicron is a more mild to moderate illness, but the issue is that it's in a pandemic state.

If people get it all at once, it will put pressure on the system.

3:44pm - Is there any advice on a variant beyond Omicron? Ardern says there is concern globally about what we may see next.

She says the challenge is easing restrictions while keeping some warning systems should we see a more dangerous variant.

3:42pm - Ardern says the close contact category is getting smaller and will get even narrower when New Zealand hits 5000 cases or thereabouts and enters phase 3.

On whether a third dose should be part of vaccine passes, Ardern talks about how exposure to COVID reduces the need for vaccine passes generally.

3:40pm - Luxon earlier suggested that Ardern has been "missing in action" while the protest has been going on.

Ardern says it risked giving the impression of sympathising with the protesters, and said that she'd let her near-daily media appearances speak for itself on whether she's been "missing in action".

3:38pm - On the fence around Parliament that Speaker Trevor Mallard suggested, Ardern says that will require full consideration of all parties.

She says a full assessment of the safety and accessibility of Parliament is prudent.

3:37pm - On businesses and self-imposed lockdown, Robertson says people can continue to go out and travel.

He says some people won't want to, but the Government says it is safe thanks to restrictions and boosters.

3:35pm - On hospitals coping and what that means, Ardern says some countries have had prolonged peaks which makes it difficult to predict.

"I just cannot give dates," she says, but restrictions will ease once hospitals are coping again.

3:32pm - On test processing, Ardern disputes that Auckland's system is under pressure from the large number of people in the city wanting tests.

And on teachers getting RATs so schools aren't understaffed, she says they're already getting them.

3:29pm - Ardern says thousands of COVID-19 tests won't be dumped.

There is an ability to move through backlog to prevent that happening, she says, but in Auckland rapid tests are being rolled out due to high demand in one area. They'll start being used in GP clinics this week.

On mandates, Ardern says they will remain in healthcare probably, but they will get advice on it.

3:27pm - Asked if New Zealand would move down the traffic light system or to a new system, Ardern says the change in settings would be vaccine passes removed as part of the system, but masks still are helpful.

Greem could be in place after peak, she adds.

3:24pm - On the protest's connection to overseas, she says it's only anecdotal evidence at this stage, but decisions on identifying sources of funding from overseas is up to police.

It's a global issue, she says, and she wants to take some advice on whether New Zealand could block funding from overseas.

3:22pm - Ardern says what's she's laid out today is based on overseas modelling and adds she'll be looking for hospitalisation rates to see if they have coped with high infections.

The Government will then able to consider looking at easing restrictions.

On mandates, Ardern says there is still a concern about vulnerable communities, but other mandates we could remove after the peak.

On why she won't speak to protesters, Ardern says after they threw human waste at police officers this morning, she won't respond to them.

3:20pm - On the protest, Ardern expressed her confidence in Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.

She says she doesn't agree with every decision, but her support for the police hasn't changed.

Ardern says law enforcement is up to police and adds the only way to resolve the protest is the protesters leaving.

She reiterates that her announcement today is "absolutely not" bending to protester pressure.

3:18pm - On not giving a date for when mandates will end, Ardern says they will do it when it's safe to do so, when the Omicron peak is over, and unvaccinated people have been exposed to COVID.

3:16pm - The COVID fund has been increased by $5 billion and will only be spent when needed.

Robertson says it's justified because the economy is doing well.

His message to the business community is there is every reason to be confident this will pass quickly.

3:15pm - A total $260 million is how much Treasury expects this to cost, Robertson says.

3:14pm - A new six-week payment will be available to Omicron-affected businesses from March, Finance Minister Grant Robertson has announced. 

To be eligible, businesses must be able to show a 40 percent drop over seven days within the six weeks prior to the February 15 shift to the current second phase of the Government's Omicron plan.    

Each COVID Support Payment will be $4000 per business plus $400 per full-time employee, capped at 50 employees or $24,000. It's the same rate as the most recent Transition Payment available to businesses last year to help with the transition to the COVID-19 Protection Framework or 'traffic light' system. 

"It will be available on a fortnightly basis for six weeks - so three payments in total," Robertson said on Monday. 

"This reflects the international experience that the peak of the Omicron outbreak should pass after about six weeks. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and have the option to extend the payment if this if necessary."

The previous Resurgence Support Payment, designed to help businesses with their fixed costs, only required businesses to show a 30 percent revenue drop.

"We have set a higher threshold in terms of revenue loss than previous support in order to target those most affected," Robertson said. 

"We looked closely at whether we could offer sector specific packages but the definition of who is in what sector, and the need for cashflow to be provided quickly, meant that was not a feasible option to reach the most affected."

Read the full story here.

3:12pm - Robertson is speaking now.

He's announced new business support, saying that more than $25 million has been paid out in business support throughout pandemic.

The Government decided not to do something like the wage subsidy scheme because most businesses can operate at the traffic light system, but some are struggling.

3:10pm - Ardern says 2022 is about moving forward.

She also gave a final message to the protesters occupying Parliament. She says that everyone is over COVID and no one wants rules, but had we not worked together, we would have been worse off as individuals. 

She adds that once mandates are removed, it won't be because the protesters called for it, it will instead be because the peak of Omicron has passed and it is safe from a health perspective to do so.

3:08pm - Without vaccine passes, we would have to return to more general restrictions, Ardern says.

She says once we've come through the wave of Omicron, unvaccinated people will have been exposed to COVID so we will be able to move away from vaccine passes since people will have already been exposed. Mandates will be eased too but will remain for some sectors.

New variants and potential future waves is the reason why we can't do away with the traffic light system now, Ardern says, and we are approaching winter.

COVID cases will increase and rapidly, she says, adding "we must brace through the next six weeks".

3:06pm - An unpredictable pandemic makes it hard to predict, but Ardern says the peak will probably hit in mid to late March, three to six weeks away.

She says if we follow other countries, a rapid decline will follow and cases will stabilise. That's when we can start to do things differently and the traffic light framework will change.

Ardern says that's when we can "ease" public health measures and gathering limits, for instance.

3:04pm - Ardern lists the reasons why we shouldn't worry about COVID.

She says people are ten-times less likely to end up in hospital with a booster, and masks and gathering limits will slow down spread.

She says the plan is working and compares us to Australia, saying we are "well below Australian states".

Ardern admits it's been "incredibly hard at times" but it has kept hospitals free.

3:01pm - Ardern and Robertson has arrived.

Ardern says she has two important messages to share today: financial support during Omicron and where we are at with COVID-19.

She says cases are expected to double every three to four days with the Omicron surge.

2:50pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to hold her weekly post-Cabinet press conference at 3pm.

She will be joined by Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

You can watch that here or in the video player above.

2:45pm - National Party leader Christopher Luxon says the Government should begin removing vaccine mandates progressively once we are through the peak of Omicron.

"National is strongly pro-vaccination, but the public health rationale for mandates is much less than it was just a few months ago. Omicron is just so infections and busts through vaccination, including boosters," he says.

"New Zealanders have done the right thing. We got vaccinated in record numbers. We're getting boosted. We get tested. We've tolerated being shut off from the rest of the world for two years.

"The Government must step up and begin to heal the deep divisions it has created in our society before they get worse. Key to that is a plan on what criteria they will use to begin lifting vaccine mandates."

Luxon says mandates are becoming "increasingly less relevant in our highly-vaccinated population" and they should be removed progressively once the country is through the peak of Omicron.

"The areas where Government mandates should be removed first are vaccination requirements for border workers, vaccine pass requirements for children's sport and vaccine pass requirements for hospitality businesses," he says.

"Hospitality businesses around New Zealand are doing the hard yards under current settings – despite officials specifically telling Labour not to apply vaccine pass requirements to bars, restaurants and cafes.

"The Government also needs to open up the border right now for Kiwis coming home from anywhere in the world. We should quickly open to tourists and other visa holders too, and we should get rid of self-isolation requirements unless someone tests positive when they land."

Luxon adds that National is the party of law and order and they condemn the "illegal and antisocial behaviour" of those involved in the Wellington protest.

"MPs cannot engage with law-breakers while roads are illegally occupied and death threats hang in the air," he says.

"But we should not ignore the wider frustrations of law-abiding New Zealanders and businesses doing it tough."

2:30pm - National Party leader Christopher Luxon is making a speech about the protest, COVID-19, and mandates. You can watch that here or in the embedded link below.

2:20pm - Over in Queensland, Australia, there are 4114 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths.

A total 401 people are in hospital, 37 of whom are in ICU.

2:10pm - There are six new locations of interest. They are:

  • Flight NZ402 Wellington to Auckland, February 11 from 6am to 7:05am
  • Flight NZ8303 Wellington to Nelson, February 12 from 8:43am to 9:10am
  • Flight NZ644 Queenstown to Christchurch, February 13 from 10:20am to 11:15am
  • Flight JQ287 Wellington to Christchurch, February 14 from 8:20am to 9:10am
  • Flight NZ401 Auckland to Wellington, February 15 from 6:39am to 7:30am
  • Flight NZ8322 Nelson to Wellington, February 16 from 7:01pm to 7:26pm.

1:50pm - Here is an update from police on protest activity in Wellington:

Police can now confirm that eight people were arrested during this morning's operation at locations around the perimeter of Parliament. 

Seven people were arrested for disorderly behaviour and one for obstruction. 

Two of those arrested have refused to provide their details to police and remain in custody. 

Three hundred police staff were involved in this morning’s operation, which started at 3:30am and concluded by 6:30am. 

The focus of police staff was ensuring the safety and security of the heavy truck and forklift operators who were placing concrete barriers at eight locations on the outer perimeter of protest activity. 

The first barrier was installed at Ballantrae Place, at the rear entrance of the Parliamentary precinct.

From there, staff moved swiftly to Hill Street near Guildford Terrace, and Molesworth Street near Pipitea Street. 

Barriers were then installed at two points on Mulgrave Street, at the intersections with Aitken Street and Kate Shepherd Place. 

From there staff moved on to Bunny Street, near the Victoria University campus, and Lambton Quay near Whitmore Street. 

The final barriers were placed at the intersection of Mulgrave Street and Lambton Quay. 

A large number of vocal protesters were present throughout the operation.  

Seven officers sustained injuries during the operation, ranging from scratches to an ankle injury.

Some officers also had human waste thrown over them by protestors. 

Deliberately infecting someone with disease is a serious offence punishable by 14 years imprisonment.

Likewise attempting to do so attracts a significant penalty.

Police will be investigating and will hold to account those identified as responsible for these actions. 

We invite anyone with information about who is responsible to come forward.

Local residents and pedestrians will be able to move freely through the roadblocks. 

Protest vehicles will not be permitted through the barriers but are able to leave, and Police can confirm that several vehicles did leave the protest area following this morning’s operation. 

Police will continue to have a highly visible presence in and around the protest area, particularly at the start and finish of each school/work day.

Anyone abusing or intimidating members of the public can expect to be arrested, removed and face charges. 

1:40pm - ACT leader David Seymour says it is "absurd" that the Government has stopped a school importing 2000 Australian government-approved RAT tests at the border and Customs has now confirmed the tests will not be released.

"These tests are superior to the Ministry of Health's standards and are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia, where these tests are widely available. What's more, the Government has had three days to think about it and came back saying they're definitely confiscating them," Seymour says.

"The tests have been approved in Australia but not New Zealand. They have an accuracy rate of 90 percent, higher than the Government’s standard of 80 percent. They were purchased for cheaper than the tests the Government is using, at $8 a test.

"A competent Government would have asked officials, 'is it true these tests meet Australian standards, is it true they meet our standards, and if so why are you detaining them?' Even when an absurdity is publicly reported, the Minister does nothing. It is doctrinaire contempt and ham-fisted incompetence from this Government that they have not intervened."

Seymour says the Ministry of Health has questions it needs to answer, such as what will happen to these and other imported tests now, will it approve them and commandeer them for its own use, will it send them back to where they were imported from for another country to use, why is it stopping a school that took the initiative to secure its own tests, will it ensure Grammar has access to other tests, and will it refund Grammar for the tests?

"This level of bureaucracy and control is truly ridiculous," Seymour says.

"As ACT has said, the Government should legalise any test that can be used in Australia for immediate importation. At present Australia allows 26 different types of home use test and 67 Point of Care Tests, we should simply say tomorrow that New Zealanders are free to import any type of test approved in Australia.

"The Ministry of Health and the Government needs to stop the absurdity and control and let New Zealanders source their own RATs."

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub.

1:19pm - Ministry of Health have announced one new location of interest. 

The locations is:

  • Air New Zealand Flight NZ681 Wellington to Dunedin - Tuesday, 15 February from 9:02am to 10:03am  

The ministry said if you were on the flight, you are a close contact if you were seated in rows 21, 22, 23, 24, 25.

The ministry asks if you are a close contact to "self-isolate for 7 days, test on day 5 after you were exposed at this location of interest. Monitor symptoms for 10 days. Test again if you feel unwell."

For the relevant dates, times and public health advice - and updates to existing locations of interest - click here.

1:06pm - Here is the latest data from the Ministry of Health on the outbreak and vaccination campaign:

COVID-19 vaccine update** 

  • Vaccines administered to date (percentage of eligible people aged 12 and over): 4,244,738 first doses (96%); 3,954,111 second doses (95%); 2,169,906 booster doses (66%). 
  • Vaccines administered yesterday:1,338 first doses; 649 second doses; 1,122 paediatric doses; 15,441 booster doses. 
  • Māori (percentage of eligible people aged 12+): 517,718 first doses (91%); 495,766 second doses (87%); 180,429 booster doses (56%)
  • Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people aged 12+): 279,944 first doses (98%); 273,482 second doses (95%); 108,242 booster doses (53%)
  • Paediatric vaccines administered to date (percentage of 5-11-year-olds): 228,182 first doses (48%).  
  • Māori (percentage of eligible people aged 5-11): 32,698 first doses (28%).   
  • Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people aged 5-11): 19,454 first doses (39%). 

Vaccination rates for all DHBs (percentage of eligible people aged 12 +)

  • Northland DHB: first doses (90%); second doses (88%); booster doses (66%)
  • Auckland Metro DHB: first doses (97%); second doses (96%); booster doses (63%)
  • Waikato DHB: first doses (95%); second doses (93%); booster doses (63%)  
  • Bay of Plenty DHB: first doses (95%); second doses (93%); booster doses (64%) 
  • Lakes DHB: first doses (94%); second doses (91%); booster doses (65%)  
  • MidCentral DHB: first doses (97%); second doses (95%); booster doses (69%)  
  • Tairāwhiti DHB: first doses (93%); second doses (90%); booster doses (66%)  
  • Whanganui DHB: first doses (92%); second doses (90%); booster doses (70%)  
  • Hawke’s Bay DHB: first doses (97%); second doses (95%); booster doses (68%) 
  • Taranaki DHB: first doses (95%); second doses (93%); booster doses (64%)  
  • Wairarapa DHB: first doses (97%); second doses (95%); booster doses (72%)  
  • Capital and Coast DHB: first doses (99%); second doses (98%); booster doses (73%)
  • Hutt Valley DHB: first doses (97%); second doses (96%); booster doses (71%)   
  • Nelson Marlborough DHB: first doses (97%); second doses (95%); booster doses (74%)  
  • West Coast DHB: first doses (93%); second doses (91%); booster doses (70%)  
  • Canterbury DHB: first doses (>99%); second doses (98%); booster doses (67%)  
  • South Canterbury DHB: first doses (95%); second doses (94%); booster doses (71%)
  • Southern DHB: first doses (98%); second doses (96%); booster doses (71%)

**First and second dose percentages are for those 12+. Booster dose percentages are for 18+ who have become eligible three months after having their second dose.


  • Cases in hospital: total number 116: Northland: 1; North Shore: 20; Middlemore: 34; Auckland: 47; Tauranga: 1; Waikato: 12; Tairāwhiti: 1
  • Average age of current hospitalisations: 58
  • Cases in ICU or HDU: 1
  • Vaccination status of current hospitalisations (Northern Region only, excluding Emergency Departments): Unvaccinated or not eligible (14 cases / 14.6%); partially immunised <7 days from second dose or have only received one dose (3 cases / 3.1%); fully vaccinated at least 7 days before being reported as a case (78 cases / 81.2%); unknown (one case / 1%). 


  • Seven day rolling average of community cases: 1,667
  • Seven day rolling average of border cases: 11
  • Number of new community cases: 2,365
  • Location of new community cases*: Northland (50), Auckland (1,692), Waikato (136), Bay of Plenty (42), Lakes (24), Hawke’s Bay (23), MidCentral (14), Whanganui (5), Taranaki (4), Tairāwhiti (9), Wairarapa (8), Capital and Coast (89), Hutt Valley (19), Nelson Marlborough (58), Canterbury (105), South Canterbury (1), Southern (86).
  • Number of new cases identified at the border: 12 
  • Location of origin of border cases: Full travel history not obtained (12).
  • Number of active community cases (total): 15,928 (cases identified in the past 21 days and not yet classified as recovered) 
  • Confirmed cases (total): 32,927

* Please note, the Ministry of Health’s daily reported cases may differ slightly from those reported at a DHB or local public health unit level. This is because of different reporting cut off times and the assignment of cases between regions, for example when a case is tested outside their usual region of residence. Total numbers will always be the formal daily case tally as reported to the WHO.


  • Number of tests total (last 24 hours): 27,109
  • Tests rolling average (last 7 days): 28,567
  • Number of Rapid Antigen Tests stock available in New Zealand: 7.3 million

1:05pm - The ministry has provided an update on Rapid Antigen Testing:

More than 2.1 million booster shots have now been given nationally, with more than 15,000 administered on Sunday.

Getting the booster dose greatly reduces your chances of getting severely ill and requiring hospital care if you test positive for COVID-19, so if it’s been three months since your last dose, please book your booster today.

Additionally, 90% of Māori in Counties Manukau DHB have now received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Omicron has spread to all DHBs across the North and South Islands, but all of us can play our part to slow the spread of the virus, help protect our most vulnerable people from being infected, and ensure our health system is able to manage extra demand for services.

As always, anyone with any cold or flu symptoms that could be COVID-19 is asked to get a test and isolate at home until a negative result is returned and they are feeling well. Regardless of your test result, it is still important that anyone who is unwell stays home to reduce the spread of other viruses.

The most common early symptom of the Omicron variant is a cough, followed by a sore throat and/or runny nose.

Rapid Antigen Testing in Auckland

From this morning, rapid antigen tests are now available at Auckland Community Testing Centres only to those who fit the appropriate clinical criteria. The site will determine which test (PCR or a rapid antigen test) is best for you.

Access to rapid antigen tests will be expanded further during the coming week.  At this time, please do not visit your GP for a RAT test or call them for guidance on RAT eligibility at Community Testing Centres. We will be providing further updates on the rollout throughout this week.

As the outbreak grows, more people will have COVID-19 and there will be more close contacts we need to test. As planned, we will now increase the use of RATs in phase 2 and phase 3 of our response in order to relieve pressure on the PCR testing and reserve it for those most likely to have COVID-19.

Remember, only those with symptoms or who have been identified as close contacts of a case, or directed by a health professional to get tested, should be turning up at testing sites.

People who are directed to have a rapid antigen test will be given advice on what to do if they have a positive result. At the current time, they will likely be advised that they need to have a PCR test to confirm the positive result.

For a list of all Community Testing Centres in Auckland, please visit

Testing reminder

As this demand has grown, some COVID-19 test results for Auckland and Waikato are currently taking longer to process at laboratories. The use of rapid antigen testing, alongside PCR testing, will improve this process at a time of exceptional demand in Phase 2, provided the Community Testing Centre queues are freely available for those who really need a test.

We are anticipating continued high demand at our COVID-19 testing sites, so our request is to, please, be patient. Our frontline staff across the health sector are doing the best they can to help in a timely way.

For a full list of testing sites nationwide, visit the Healthpoint website.

COVID-19 related deaths*

Sadly, we are today reporting the death of a patient at Middlemore Hospital.

The family has requested that no further details be released and, out of respect for those wishes, we will be making no further comment.

Additionally, we are also saddened to report the death of a patient in their 70s at Auckland City Hospital following a diagnosis of COVID-19.

Our thoughts and condolences are with both patients’ family and friends.

*These two deaths are not yet reflected in the data reported on the Ministry’s website, which will be updated accordingly.

1:04pm - The Ministry of Health has announced a slight drop in cases with 2365 new infections and 116 people in hospital on Monday.

The ministry also announced two people had died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. 

"Sadly, we are today reporting the death of a patient at Middlemore Hospital," the ministry said.

"The family has requested that no further details be released and, out of respect for those wishes, we will be making no further comment.

"Additionally, we are also saddened to report the death of a patient in their 70s at Auckland City Hospital following a diagnosis of COVID-19."

Of the new community infections, 1692 are in Auckland, 136 in Waikato, 105 in Canterbury, 89 in Capital and Coast, 86 in Southern, 58 in Nelson Marlborough, 50 in Northland, 42 in Bay of Plenty, 24 in Lakes, 23 in Hawke’s Bay, 19 in Hutt Valley, 14 in MidCentral, nine in Tairāwhiti, eight in Wairarapa, five in Whanganui, four in Taranaki and one South Canterbury.

The ministry announced another record day of hospitalisations with 116 people in hospital with one in ICU or HDU.

Of the 116 people in hospital: 47 are in Auckland, 34 in Middlemore, 20 in North Shore, 12 in Waikato, one in Northland, one in Tauranga and one in Tairāwhiti.

There are 12 new COVID cases recorded at the border in Managed Isolation and Quarantine.

12:40pm -  As usual, the Ministry of Health will release its daily statement with the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak at around 1pm.

Stay tuned, as we will publish the newest developments live as soon as the statement is available.

12:30pm - As the Parliament protest enters its third week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has dropped a hint that COVID-19 rules could ease after Omicron's peak. 

"We constantly discuss every single layer of protection we have and it's a constant discussion because we don't want any restrictions to stay in longer than they're needed," Ardern told AM on Monday.

"But again, what we're very clear on - and you'll see from the experts that have already been in the media discussing issues like mandates - is that when we're moving through what will eventually be a peak, now is not the time to remove them. 

"But for what the future looks like, I am going to talk a bit more about that this afternoon."

Protesters opposed to vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions clashed with police in the early hours on Monday as concrete barriers were installed at eight streets surrounding Parliament to prevent more vehicles from joining the protest and to maintain access for residents, businesses and emergency vehicles. 

Read the full story here.

12:15pm - The Ministry of Health has announced two new 'high risk' locations of interest. 

The locations are:

  • Air New Zealand Flight NZ8303 Wellington to Nelson - Saturday, 12 February from 8:43am to 9:10am 

  • Air New Zealand Flight NZ401 Auckland to Wellington - Tuesday, 15 February from 6:39 am to 7:30am

The ministry said if you were on the Wellington to Nelson flight, you are a close contact if you were seated in rows 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. 

If you were on the Auckland to Wellington flight, you are a close contact if you were seated in rows 19, 20, 21, 22, 23. 

The ministry said if you are a close contact to "self-isolate for 7 days, test on day 5 after you were exposed at this location of interest. Monitor symptoms for 10 days. Test again if you feel unwell".

For the relevant dates, times and public health advice - and updates to existing locations of interest - click here.

12:10pm - ACT has called student isolation in university hostels cruel and unusual and shows how "absurdly unbalanced our COVID response has become".

Here is the full statement:

"The requirement for students in university hostels to isolate, unable to leave their rooms shows how absurdly unbalanced our COVID response has become," says ACT Leader David Seymour.

"I am hearing from parents of students being effectively imprisoned for 24 hours, unable to go out even to exercise due to being contacts of COVID cases. This is occurring at multiple hostels at different universities, and is apparently due to hostel managers following Ministry of Health guidelines.

"I am also hearing from students at halls such as University Hall, Tupānuku and College House at the University of Canterbury that students are only allowed to leave their room to go to the bathroom, for seven days. If they test positive or there is another contact then the period can be extended further.

"Other students report, 'people are refusing to get tested because they don't want to get locked up, they are losing faith in the system.'

"These students are being forced to miss their first week of university while on lockdown, often they are young people living away from home for the first time. It is a deeply distressing situation that the Government needs to justify on the grounds of demonstrable public health benefits.

"Once again there seems to be no cost benefit analysis on these rules. How much will forcing these people to isolate slow the spread? What effect will isolating 17 and 18 year olds, who are at low risk as an age group, have on hospitalisation? What goals is the Government seeking to achieve with these policies?

"The isolation rules are no different to those faced by all New Zealanders who are deemed close contacts. However, they are felt acutely by students in university hostels because they live close together and are isolated to small rooms. Some are forced to isolate in conditions that would be illegal if they were convicted criminals in prison, who are alllowed out for an hour's exercise each day. Others are required to isolate on their floor for a week.

"One thing that would help is the widespread availability of Rapid Antigen Tests. ACT says if you test negative you should be free to go, but with the Government having first banned Rapid Antigen Tests, then letting select people import them, then confiscated those that were allowed, Rapid Antigen Tests are scarcely available.

"The Government needs to front and at the very least modify the rules so that these students can leave the building to exercise or, better still, change the isolation rules for everyone."

12pm - Photos posted online show anti-mandate protesters holding signs comparing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to the March 15 Christchurch gunmen. 

Aya Al-Umari, whose brother died in the Christchurch terrorist attack, shared a photo of the sign saying, "This has just gone a whole other level".

"What do you even say to that , the amount of things I wrote and deleted . Lord have mercy , I pity them all and anyone of the "good " ones  standing beside that and the death threats."

11:51am - The Ministry of Health has announced three new 'high risk' locations of interest. 

The locations are: 

  • Zephyr -Sunday,  13 February from 3am to 4am 

  • Subway Whanganui - Thursday, 17 February from 7pm to 7:30pm 

  • Amberley Fitness Centre - Thursday, 17 February from 8:45pm to 9:30pm 

The ministry asks if you are a close contact to "self-isolate for 7 days, test on day 5 after you were exposed at this location of interest. Monitor symptoms for 10 days. Test again if you feel unwell". 

For the relevant dates, times and public health advice - and updates to existing locations of interest - click here.

11:46am - In Victoria, they have recorded a jump in cases with 5611 new COVID infections on Monday. 

The jump in cases comes after Victoria recorded 4867 new infections on Sunday.

Victoria Health said that there had been three coronavirus deaths in the previous reporting period down from nine recorded on Sunday.  

Hospitalisations have slightly increased with currently 361 people in hospital, up from 358 on Sunday, with 49 in ICU and 11 on a ventilator. 

There are currently 45,278 active infections in Victoria.

11:40am - Over in Australia, New South Wales has seen another day of a drop in COVID cases recording 4916 new infections in the past 24 hours. 

Monday's announcement of the drop in cases is the fifth straight day New South Wales has seen infections drop. 

New South Wales Health said there had been seven coronavirus deaths on Monday, down from 21 on Sunday. 

There are currently 1288 people in hospital with 74 in ICU.

11:01am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has told AM on Monday that vaccine mandates will not be forever but it's currently not the right time to remove them.

"They are one of the restrictions that are not forever, I've been saying that for some time," she said. 

"You will be already seeing the proof that we are moving away from things like lockdowns, we've changed isolation periods, we are opening our borders as it's safe to do so, we will move away from those measures. 

"All of those measures have the broad support of most New Zealanders because we are right at the front end of a peak, not coming off it. So this is not the time to pull off all of our armour, right when the enemy [Omicron] has arrived on the doorstep."

Ardern told AM it was a "constant discussion" about every layer of protection as they don't want any to stay "longer than they are needed".

"My point is we constantly discuss every single layer of protection we have and that's a constant discussion because we don't want any restriction to stay in longer than they are needed but again what we are very clear on and you will see from the experts who have already been in the media discussing mandates, it's not the time now as we are moving through what will be a peak, now is not the time to remove them."

10:46am - Masks and other public health measures are playing critically important roles amid the Omicron outbreak, as schools continue to grapple with growing COVID cases, the Auckland Primary Principals' Association (APPA) says. 

In Auckland, a "significant number" of school children are already in isolation at home due to the outbreak. Auckland alone reported nearly 1800 of Sunday's 2522 new cases of COVID-19.

APPA president Stephen Lethbridge says schools are trying to make the learning experience as normal as possible for children amid the outbreak while also keeping them safe.

"I was wandering around the perimeters of classrooms last week and I was listening to the learning that was going on - listening to the happiness and seeing smiling eyes," he told AM. "It is important for the kids to be back at school."

Read the full story here. 

10am - Here is footage of the face-off between police and protesters on Monday morning when officers conducted their traffic management operation. 

Police said they installed hard concrete barriers at key roads around the perimeter of Parliament, containing protest activity in Wellington’s CBD.

A "handful" of protesters were arrested during the face-off. 

9:35am -  Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is refusing to condemn two of her senior ministers' comments likening Parliament's anti-mandate protests to a "river of filth" and "ferals".

For 14 days, protesters have camped outside Parliament demanding an end to COVID-vaccine mandates and other coronavirus restrictions. Police and protesters faced off in the early hours of Monday - the 14th day of the occupation.

Last Wednesday, Labour MP Michael Wood - the Deputy Leader of the House - noted some of the protesters were hurt and lashing out, "but underneath all of that, there is a river of filth… There is a river of violence and menace. There is a river of anti-Semitism. There is a river of Islamophobia. There is a river of threats to people who work in this place and our staff", he told fellow MPs.

On the same day, House Speaker Trevor Mallard described demonstrators as "the biggest collection of ferals that I've seen" in an interview with the NZ Herald.

Ardern on Monday was asked by AM host Ryan Bridge if she condoned those comments.

"I don't condone the illegal activity outside," she responded.

Read the full story here.

9:16am - ACT is calling on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to provide clarity around what advice she has received on whether vaccine mandates should continue. 

On Sunday, ACT Leader David Seymour said the Government should "move on from Government vaccine mandates". 

"Vaccination rates are making little difference to infection rates under Omicron, which means it's time to ask if the benefits of vaccine rules are still worth the costs to individuals, and social cohesion overall," Seymour said. 

"Based on new evidence, it may be time to move on from Government vaccine mandates."

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins hit back at Seymours demand on Sunday for the Government to ditch vaccine mandates. 

Hipkins said Seymour had "flip-flopped" on mandates over the past 12 months. 

"It's hard to know what ACT is aiming to achieve here. It looks like a dog-whistle to anti-vaxxers," Hipkins says. 

"Seymour has flip flopped on mandates. In October 2021, he was one of the strongest advocates for them and was urging the Government to bring them in. "

Here is ACT's full statement:

"Jacinda needs to start answering questions about what advice she has received about whether mandates should continue," Seymour says.

"Jacinda Ardern has always been the master of avoiding questions and answering with waffle, but she took that to the next level, even for her, on AM this morning.

"She avoided questions about modelling on mandates, comments made by her senior ministers and whether she has confidence in the Police Commissioner. There was not a single straight answer.

"Government policy should always be made based on evidence. What New Zealanders want to know is whether the evidence still supports having mandates in place, or whether Omicron has been a game changer and the rules should change with it.

"We deserve to know what advice the Government has received, whether it still applies in an Omicron world and whether our response should change.

"It's a debate we need to have to glue back together our little country, what we need is hope and healing.

"Only when this Government starts to act like the "most open and transparent ever" will the healing begin and we can move on."

9:08am - Northern Region Health Coordination Centre Operations Director Matt Hannant told AM on Monday that demand is really high for testing on the opening day of Aucklanders getting access to Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs). 

On Sunday the Ministry of Health announced that Aucklanders who meet certain requirements will be offered a rapid antigen test (RAT) at testing sites from Monday.

The Ministry of Health says testing sites will determine whether a RAT or PCR is best. Access to RATs will also expand further over the coming week.

"What we are seeing is really high demand for testing across Auckland, so our rolling average is 27,000 tests per day," Hannant said. 

"If you come down to one of our community testing sites, our teams will ask you a series of questions and will make a determination, so some people with get a PCR and some people will get a RAT. 

"Just to remind people you only need to come for a test if you are symptomatic, if you're a close contact or you have been told to get a test by a health professional. So typically people who might get a RAT are close contacts but not symptomatic and some other exceptions that we are looking at.

"What we are having is some flexibility on the sites so we can balance the needs and make sure we are targeting the right people.

"The people that need it will get a PCR test, so if you come on down here and typically if you have had a positive RAT result we will give you a PCR. If you are symptomatic and a close contact you will get a PCR most other people will get a RAT test."

The Balmoral testing centre is being inundated with cars on Monday morning and Hannant told AM that even though demand is high they have enough RATs to meet that demand. 

"The focus at the moment is on symptomatic people, people who are close contacts, people who are high risk," he said. 

"As we are in Phase 2 it's really about protecting the vulnerable in the community and making sure the system has the protection it needs and we don't overwhelm our resources so the testing strategy has been designed to meet that. 

"We know that the majority of people that contract Omicron it will be a milder illness and we also know that if you are vaccinated and you are asymptomatic you are less likely to pass it on to other people. 

"So that is why we are really focusing on those who are most at risk and making sure we are protecting those high-risk vulnerable settings as well."

8:38am - Police have provided an update on their traffic management operation on Monday morning that saw a standoff between officers and protesters.

Here is the full statement from police: 

"Police have this morning installed hard concrete barriers at key roads around the perimeter of Parliament, containing protest activity in Wellington’s CBD," police said.

"At around 3:30am staff began installing the barriers at eight locations around Parliament. The operation, involving approximately 300 staff and large-scale equipment to install the barriers, will enable Police to prevent further growth in vehicles within the area of the protest, and to maintain access for residents, businesses and emergency vehicles. 

"A handful of protesters were arrested while the operation was underway. However, Police were able to install the barriers with minimal disruption. 

"Several road closures and detours are in place for vehicle traffic in the vicinity of Parliament. We ask that commuters allow extra travel time to allow for any traffic delays. 

"Pedestrians will still be able to move in and out of the area. Police officers will be stationed at each road block to facilitate legitimate vehicle access. Protestors’ vehicles will be allowed to leave the area but will not be able to go back in once they have left. 

"We will continue to maintain a highly visible, reassurance presence on site, and staff are engaging with the public and protestors to provide advice and, where necessary, take enforcement action. 

"Anyone abusing or intimidating members of the public can expect to be arrested, removed and face charges. Police will continue to work with key protest leaders to resolve any issues." 

The locations of the barriers are:

  • Hill Street 
  • Rear end of Parliament on Ballantrae Place 
  • Molesworth Street near Pipitea Street 
  • Murphy Street / Aitken Street 
  • Kate Sheppard Place 
  • Bunny Street near the railway station 
  • Corner of Whitmore Street and Lambton Quay, at the bottom of Bowen Street 
  • Lambton Quay / Mulgrave St

8:24am - Queen Elizebeth has tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning (NZ time) just a week after her son Prince Charles also contracted the virus.

AM Europe Reporter Emily Cooper said this news is what "many people feared? during the pandemic". 

"It is what many people have feared during the pandemic and it was announced by Buckingham Palace just a few hours ago that the Queen has contracted COVID," Cooper told AM on Monday. 

"The Palace has said she will continue light duties but what that entails is not yet certain and she is experiencing mild symptoms but she is 95-years-old. 

"It comes a week after her son and his wife Camilla tested positive for the virus and he came into contact just two days before he tested positive. 

"She is currently at Windsor Castle, which is just outside of London and there are reports that several people at Windsor Castle have tested positive for the virus. 

"Now, this all comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson will go to Parliament tomorrow to discuss the lifting of all virus restrictions including people won't have to legally self-isolate if they contract the virus."

8:05am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has told the protesters it is "now time to go home".

Ardern told AM on Monday the disruption from protests has been "enormous" to bsuinesses and schools in the area. 

"What I have been advised by police is that they have put in place barricades and they have staff that stationed at each of those sites predominantly at those intersections or areas where cars are already up to the edge," she said. 

"The intent I'm told is to ensure they don't see any further growth and the disruption has been obvious.

"I can't see the aerial photographs but I can certainly see from the area I work, the disruption has been enormous to businesses, there are schools within the location of the protest and students are now being escorted to school because of the intimidation and harassment.

"Ultimately the point I would make is all of this would be resolved if protesters accepted they have made their point and it is now time to go home."

Ardern said the police and the commissioner have her full support.

"I do have confidence in the police and the commissioner but what I will say is they do a very hard job," she told AM. 

"You know I'm a daughter of a police officer, so I consider myself to be a member of the police family for a number of years, so I support them and the work they do. 

"Do I always agree with every single operational decision they make not necessarily but they have my support."

7:50am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has told the AM she is fed up with the protest outside Parliament. 

"They have made their point and it is now time to go home," Ardern told AM.

Ardern said the disruption from protests has been "enourmous".

7:49am - Speaking to AM, reporter Ashleigh McCaul said protesters had been 'very vocal" this morning but tensions have started to deescalate outside Parliament after police conducted a traffic management operation on Monday.

"Things aren't as intense as they were earlier. A moment ago we saw hundred officers form a human barrier aroundLambton Quay and Bowen street," McCaul told AM.

"Quite a large number of protester were seen at that police line. We could hear them yelling out "hold the line" and "keep the peace" while police brought in a forklift who put in concrete barricades to block off Lambton Quay. Things were already quite heightened between police and protesters before this even started."

7:39am - Auckland Primary Principals association president Stephen Lethbridge has said there is a "significant number" of kids currently self-isolating because they are a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

"We don't have any idea of numbers of students isolating at home, what we do know is that with 1700 plus cases yesterday alone in the Auckland region, those numbers will be reflected in kids isolating from school but there are a significant number," Lethbridge told AM on Monday. 

Schools are still learning how to deal with COVID-19 when it strikes a classroom and Lethbridge said students coming in and out of schools will be like a "rolling carousel".  

"What we are finding is like a rolling carousel of children coming in and out of isolation, so schools have put together things like remote learning packs, they have online learning portals children can access.

"What we will find is if a whole class or a whole learning hub has to isolate then all of the learning will move into a remote learning phase. 

"It's also really important to have kids at school. I was wandering around the perimeter of classrooms last week listening to the learnings going on, listening to the happiness and seeing the smiling eyes so it is important for kids to be back at school." 

Lethbridge told AM that the safest way to protect students is through ventilation, so opening doors and windows will be key. 

"The best form of protection is open windows, open doors and trying to generate a cross breeze coming through classrooms," he said. 

"We have all been sent these wonderful carbon-dioxide monitors by the Ministry of Education, so principals and senior leaders around the region will be going into classrooms checking on CO2 levels just reminding people to open doors. 

"The other thing is the mask mandate from year 4 upwards, that is significantly important. It is super crucial that kids from year 4 up are masked up and schools are trying to maintain distancing. 

"Some of them will have split break times so not all of them will be together at the same time. So there are many, many ways they are trying to mitigate the risk.  

"We are gathering data on which rooms are poorly ventilated and we are working with the Ministry of Education around rectifying that. 

"We have a few months left before that winter kicks in. We have had really good conversations with the ministry around making sure we have what we need in order to deal with the challenges we face."

7:15am - Police have installed concrete barriers on multiple streets around Parliament on Monday morning in what police have called a traffic management operation. The concrete barriers are in place to stop more vehicles from turning up and parking illegally near Parliamanet. 

Barries can be seen in place at Kate Sheppard Pl and the entrance to the Wellington railway station bus terminal. 

Concrete blocks can also be seen on Aitken St and Mulgrave St and also on Hill St above Parliament.

6:53am - Live shots can be seen of trucks carrying concrete blocks that have arrived on Lambton Quay. A forklift carrying the blocks are putting them in on Lambton Quay to protect gains made by police.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak, Parliament protest - Monday, February 21
Photo credit: Newshub

6:49am - The police traffic management operation currently in progress has seen a large number of officers assemble themselves at the top of Lambton Quay near the Supreme Court. 

Police have formed a barricade to block the protesters in closer to Parliament and to block off the rest of Lambton Quay. 

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak, Parliament protest - Monday, February 21
Photo credit: Newshub

6:40am - Police say there is currently a traffic management operation underway around Parliament. Police posted two messages on Twitter on Monday morning informing the public about the traffic operation. 

The first tweet said: "A police traffic management operation is currently underway in Wellington city near the protest area. Police will provide an update later this morning."

The second tweet said: "Commuters are advised to expect road closures for vehicles only around the vicinity of Parliament and to consider alternative travel routes. The train station remains open. Pedestrian foot traffic is not effected."

6:33am - Speaking to AM, reporter Ashleigh McCaul said there have been tensions overnight between police and protesters. 

"So far overnight tensions have flared between police and protesters. A resident nearby Parliament sent in this photo which were taken just after 4am," McCaul told AM on Monday.

"These pictures show forming a barrier in the middle of Aitken Street. He said he could hear a bit of towing action going on as protesters ran towards the barrier yelling out 'hold the line', 'keep the peace and 'save the bus stop'. 

"Police have increased their presence here and this really is evident on our way here, we definitely saw many more officers around the grounds of Parliament. 

"Police said they are now going to take a zero-tolerance approach to any violence, intimidation or abuse from anti mandate protesters to members of the public. 

"We have only been here a short time but these protesters are being quite vocal. So it's going to be quite interesting to hear how the rest of the day pans out with things already kicking off at around 4am this morning." 

Police and protesters face off on Monday morning.
Police and protesters face off on Monday morning. Photo credit: Newshub

6:20am - Kia ora, good morning, and welcome to Newshub's live coverage of the COVID-19 Omicron outbreak and the Parliament protest for Monday, February 21.