As it happened: Latest on Parliament protest, COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, February 28

The Ministry of Health has announced a drop in COVID cases with 14,633 new infections and 344 people in hospital on Monday.

The ministry said there are now 17 people identified as having tested positive who were at the anti-mandate protest outside Parliament in Wellington. 

Meanwhile, Monday marks the opening day of stage one of New Zealand's border re-opening where Kiwis can return from Australia.

The difference is now they can now skip managed isolation and quarantine in favour of self-isolating for seven days.

What you need to know:

  • COVID cases in hospital on Monday: total number 344 - 128 are in Middlemore, 100 in Auckland, 53 in North shore, 28 in Waikato, 11 in Tauranga, six in Hutt Valley, five in Northland, four in Canterbury, four in Southern, three in Capital and Coast, one in Taranaki and one in Tairawhiti. 
  • Five cases hospitalised were in ICU on Monday.
  • There was a record day of cases in New Zealand on Monday with 14,633 infections. 
  • Location of new community cases on Monday (PCR & RAT test): 9305 are in Auckland, 1530 in Waikato, 762 in Bay of Plenty, 604 in Capital and Coast, 573 in Canterbury, 372 in Southern, 281 in Hutt Valley, 265 in Lakes, 208 Northland, 178 in Nelson Marlborough, 175 in MidCentral, 138 in Hawke's Bay, 67 in Taranaki, 60 in Tairāwhiti, 52 in Wairarapa, 30 in Whanganui, 24 in South Canterbury, six unknown and three in West Coast.
  • Cabinet has agreed to lift all self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers entering New Zealand from 11:59pm, Wednesday March 2.
  • New Zealand is in Omicron phase 3 where only positive cases and household contacts are considered close contacts. 
  • Anti-mandate protests outside Parliament have entered day 21.
  • There were "at least" 17 positive COVID-19 cases among the Wellington protesters, the Ministry of Health said on Monday.

These live updates have finished.

9pm - ACT leader David Seymour says people currently isolating in MIQ should be released immediately and making them stay until the new rules come into force this week would be the "most extraordinary cruelty".

"I spoke to a young person who arrived from the Netherlands yesterday, a place recording fewer daily cases per capita than New Zealand. He's been tested up the wazoo for the last week of transit and all his results are negative. Arriving in New Zealand he was put on a bus to Rotorua, just as the Prime Minister cancelled MIQ for Kiwis," Seymour says.

"Normally, when the war is over the prisoners get set free. Every person in MIQ right now should be released. Taking up another two to four days of their life when the Government has announced the policy will be gone by the end of the week is insulting. It's the ultimate statement that the Government's values politics and control above all else."

8:25pm - Police have given an update on protest activity at Parliament:

Police are continuing to monitor protest activity at Parliament today.

The number of protesters onsite continues to decrease, with approximately 200 people staying overnight last night.

Since yesterday, Police have made the following arrests:

  • A 33-year-old man for breach of bail last night and appeared in the Wellington District Court today.
  • A 55-year old man charged with wilful trespass last night. He will appear in the Wellington District Court on 3 March.
  • A 53-year-old man charged with possessing an offensive weapon was arrested today and also appeared in the Wellington District Court today.
  • A 33-year-old man was arrested for breach of bail today and is due to appear at the Wellington District Court tomorrow. 

Today, Police have also seized pipes and plywood sheets, that protesters were attempting to carry through the cordon.

Police will continue to have a highly visible presence in and around the perimeter of the protest today. 

Around 20 protestors had gathered outside Piptea Marae today, but they were moved on after Police spoke to them.

Today we have had staff conducting reassurance patrols, particularly between the beginning and end of the work and school day.

This is in addition to our staff who are already highly visible in and around the protest perimeter.

As we continue to return freedom of movement to Wellington, Police will maintain a high-visibility presence throughout the city so everyone feels safe.

7:55pm - Removing self-isolation requirements for fully vaccinated international travellers is the right move by Government, says BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope.

"It is a challenging time at the moment as New Zealanders adapt to Omicron in the community, however international travellers do not add significantly to the risk while the community outbreak is widespread," he says.

"It is good to see the Government responding appropriately to the changing risk profile of COVID, and sending a message to the world that we look forward to welcoming back international skills and talent, and New Zealanders who have been unable to make it home.

"We look forward to Government moving faster on the timelines to be able to bring in non-New Zealand citizens as the next iteration of responding to the current global situation, and recognising that international mobility is critical to New Zealand's economic success."

7:20pm - Waka Kotahi NZTA says the Auckland Harbour Bridge barrier lanes will remain at their standard configuration because staff who operate machinery to move it are impacted by COVID-19. 

The machinery moves the barrier during morning and afternoon peaks to allow for a better flow of traffic. This machinery won't be in operation for the rest of the week.

This means the eight lanes, which are usually reconfigured to accommodate peak traffic times will remain evenly split - four northbound and four southbound, NZTA says.

Staff who have the necessary training and experience to operate the specialised machinery are currently impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lower traffic volumes, due to people working from home or at home isolating, will however minimise the impact on people travelling over the bridge, NZTA says.

They ask for motorists' patience while we support our staff in getting well and returning to work once they can safely do so.

They will advise as soon as the machinery is back in operation.

As it happened: Latest on Parliament protest, COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, February 28
Photo credit: Getty Images

6:30pm - ACT leader David Seymour says the Government has taken "a massive dose of common sense" by removing border restrictions where the costs outweigh the benefits.

"ACT released Move On last week, arguing it's time to move on from fear and move on from rules that don't make sense. Move On is the fourth in our series of our policy documents about COVID-19. So far the Government has adopted more than 15 of our recommendations across the documents," he says.

"The problem is we still have rules that don't make sense at the border. Why, for example, are we waiting until Friday before Kiwis can return from places other than Australia? If it makes sense to let people with a negative test come straight in, then it makes sense everywhere.

"Why are we treating non-citizens differently from citizens? A New Zealand passport does not boost your immunity to COVID-19. Keeping foreigners out makes no sense when they're biologically no different from Kiwis when it comes to COVID. Keeping them out does keep killing tourism while Australia opens up."

Seymour says while ACT is pleased the Prime Minister has changed these rules, there's still more advice they want her to take on.

"The Prime Minister said today she's asked Professor David Skegg and his advisory group to evaluate the other COVID settings. The great news is that ACT has already done that work. We have carried out cost benefit analysis of all of the COVID restrictions," he says. Seymour says this includes:

  • Scanning and contact tracing: Seymour says the requirement for businesses to display codes and have people scan in should be dropped, along with the requirement to contact trace cases, because "it's just not working".
  • Mask requirements: Well-worn and high-quality masks can help prevent spread, he says. Mask-wearing likely has significant benefits for reducing the spread of Omicron, although this is sensitive to mask quality, Seymour adds. "While extremely irritating, it is one of the few current policies where it is reasonable to believe that the benefits outweigh the costs."
  • Boosters: Seymour says getting a booster significantly reduces the likelihood of death and serious illness due to COVID-19. He says boosters are an important way to reduce the costs of the inevitable spread of Omicron through the community, but there is little case for mandating them.
  • Vaccine requirements: Seymour says unless a new requirement for boosters is introduced, mandating is having negligible effect on vaccine uptake and should be dropped immediately.
  • Traffic Light Framework: Seymour says unless the Government can show the benefits of restricting large events in an Omicron environment, in terms of reducing the peak demand on hospital capacity, the Traffic Light System should be dumped immediately so "we can all move on".
  • Ban on importing RATs: He says there are no benefits to the ban, but the costs are considerable. Seymour believes the Government should adopt ACT's policy that New Zealanders can import any test that is approved by authorities in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, or the European Union.

"We should not keep ineffective and costly rules because they make us feel comfortable. If rules are not useful they should go, and it should be up to the Government that imposes them on us to explain why they should stay. It's time to stop the fear and the control. It's time to move on."

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: Getty Images

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.

5:35pm - New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is questioning the timing of the Government's announcement to lift self-isolation requirements.

"Only under severe public pressure the govt has now brought forward the lifting of restrictions and self-isolation for international travellers and allowing Kiwis to come home sooner," he tweeted.

"Why did it take a protest and pressure for the govt to come to their senses?"

5:10pm - Emma Wooster, corporate affairs manager at Foodstuffs NZ, has confirmed that rapid antigen tests (RATs) will be sold at cost price at Pak'NSave, New World, and Four Square stores and could be available in stores as early as next week. 

Foodstuffs will sell the Orient Gene Rapid COVID-19 Self Test 5-pack ($32.99 per pack)

and the Ecotest COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Nasal Pen 2-pack ($19.99 per pack). 

"Rapid antigen testing is also proving a valuable surveillance tool within our co-operatives," Wooster tells Newshub.

"Our teams in supply chain and our distribution centres are taking regular rapid antigen tests which is reducing the risk of transmission at our sites and giving our people extra reassurance we're doing all we can to keep them safe at work."

4:45pm - The Council of Trade Unions says it thanks the frontline workers who have staffed MIQ over the last two years.

"While no country is immune from Omicron and its effects, our frontline workers at MIQ have put in a colossal effort to keep us all safe from COVID-19 over the last few years," says CTU president Richard Wagstaff.

"It hasn't been easy but thanks to their hard work, New Zealand has weathered the storm better than almost any other country. We've had some of the lowest case numbers, the lowest deaths and one of the strongest economic recoveries.

"The workers who have been on the frontlines in MIQ, helping to staff the facilities, clean them and serve food as well as working as security guards, have been the unsung heroes of our collective fight against the virus."

Wagstaff says that having efficient and well-run MIQ facilities in place has meant that hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders have been able to return home during the pandemic, with relatively few cases of the virus escaping into the community.

"It's important that we maintain the capacity to manage the ongoing public health challenges of COVID-19. The skills and expertise of the staff built up through the operation of MIQ remains valuable and should not be lost to New Zealand’s ongoing defence against COVID," he says.

"As the Government announced that with the widespread Omicron outbreak, self-isolation is now no longer needed for vaccinated travellers, it's important that we take a moment to reflect on the huge service that these workers have provided to our country. They have been the ones working hard to hold back the tide, and all of us owe them a debt of thanks."

4:29pm - Ardern has now moved to talking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Any further COVID-related updates from her press conference will be added in here.

4:27pm - Skegg says boosters aren't an "optional extra", but rather a third dose of a vaccine people should get so they're protected.

He adds that he wishes the booster uptake rate was 100 percent.

4:25pm - Ardern says travellers who aren't fully vaccinated will still have to go into isolation.

Whether fully vaccinated means two or three doses, Ardern says she is still considering this.

4:20pm - Asked if this is the end of MIQ, Ardern says MIQ will still be retained and scaled up if needed.

She says they're working through some advice on the nature of the MIQ network and discussing which facilities could stay.

4:18pm - A few planes full of Kiwis returning home are arriving today, but these people won't have to do the full seven days of isolation.

Ardern says no one arriving in the country will have to self-isolate past 11:59pm on Wednesday.

4:15pm - Ardern says welcoming home Kiwis will have a limited impact, but she's wary about thousands and thousands of travellers all arriving at once since Omicron hasn't peaked.

She believes that Omicron will peak in Auckland first.

4:13pm - Here's the full press release from Chris Hipkins on this afternoon's announcement:

Self-isolation requirements removed; Step 2 brought forward

The Government is removing the self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers to New Zealand and enabling Kiwis to come here from the rest of the world sooner, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

Advice from the Strategic COVID-19 Public Health Advisory Group and the Director General of Health is that it is now appropriate to drop the requirement for self-isolation for fully vaccinated travellers after they arrive in New Zealand.

"Cabinet has agreed to lift all self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers entering New Zealand from 11:59pm, Wednesday 2 March. That means that all Kiwis coming home and tourists entering the country will be able to step off the plane and immediately connect with family and friends and enjoy all New Zealand has to offer," Chris Hipkins said.

"Travellers will still be required to have a negative pre-departure test, and undertake two rapid antigen tests on arrival and at day 5/6. If anyone returns a positive result they will be required to report it and isolate for the same period as a community case.

"Returnees are also asked to follow up their positive rapid antigen test with a PCR test, so that we can run whole genome sequencing and determine the variant. This will ensure that we can still keep tabs on any emerging variants and isolate cases as needed.

"Caution has served us well during the past two years and as we continue to move through the Omicron outbreak and peak, we will continue to remove restrictions when advised it is safe to do so - as we always said we would.

"Now that we are two years into the COVID-19 pandemic the risk has shifted from our border, to our community. As the pandemic evolves, we are too. Getting tested is now quicker and easier, requirements for isolation have been simplified to those who share a household, and care in the community is focused towards those most in need of support."

Step 2 brought forward

The Government has also confirmed it will bring forward Step 2 so that New Zealanders from the rest of the world can return from midnight this Friday 4 March. Cabinet will review the timings of the remaining steps in the coming weeks.

"We are able to take these decisions because we have a highly vaccinated population and good public health restrictions through the COVID-19 Protection Framework in place," Chris Hipkins said.

"To the nearly 1 million people who are due their booster, I urge you to get it today. The fact remains that if you are unvaccinated you are much more likely to end up in hospital with COVID-19 than if you are vaccinated and boosted.

"As we progressively open, all vaccinated travellers who test negative for COVID-19 will be able to immediately enjoy New Zealand and all it has to offer. This will be a shot in the arm for our tourism sector, our regional economies and our overall economic recovery from COVID-19.

"Professor Sir David Skegg's advisory group acknowledges that without self-isolation there will be more travellers and therefore cases entering the community. However, as outlined in the advice these numbers will remain a very small proportion of overall cases for the foreseeable future.

Border cases have been decreasing over the past month, both in number and as a proportion of arriving travellers. The seven-day average for border cases at the weekend was 9.4, compared with a seven-day average of around 6,700 for cases in the community.

"The border and MIQ workforce have done a phenomenal job at first keeping COVID-19 out of New Zealand and then slowing the spread once it arrived. Because of this mahi, New Zealand has one of the lowest number of deaths from COVID-19 in the world," Chris Hipkins said.

"Managed isolation will remain for unvaccinated New Zealanders, refugees and some community cases as needed. But it does mean we will begin to scale back some of our managed isolation capacity. I will have more to say on this in the coming weeks."

4:12pm - Ardern says these new rules means some arrivals will be able to get out and about in the country right away.

"As we open, all vaccinated travellers who test negative with a RAT will be able to enjoy New Zealand," she says.

"We can't wait to see you."

4:10pm - The Prime Minister says Kiwis in step two of the border reopening will now be able to arrive from Friday, not mid March as previously indicated.

4:07pm - Cabinet has agreed that from 11:59pm on Wednesday March 2, vaccinated travellers entering New Zealand will no longer need to self-isolate on arrival.

RAT tests will be required on arrival and also on day five. All incoming travellers still need to get a pre-departure test.

4:04pm - Professor David Skegg has joined Ardern virtually.

He's been studying the course of the pandemic both in New Zealand and globally.

He says the pattern of risk from overseas travellers has changed - there are now more cases in the community than those arriving.

Skegg believes now is the time to drop self-isolation requirements for fully vaccinated travellers to New Zealand.

4:02pm - Jacinda Ardern has arrived.

She explains that now we're in phase 3 of Omicron, things like testing, contact tracing, and isolation has changed. Border plans have also changed.

Ardern says they have actively monitored the need for self-isolation for overseas arrivals.

3:50pm - We are about 10 minutes away from the Prime Minister's post-Cabinet press conference.

Jacinda Ardern is expected to discuss the self-isolation for returnees as well as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Earlier, on AM, she said Cabinet would be considering advice on whether to ditch self-isolation requirements for returnees in light of the large number of Omicron cases in the community compared to the few being detected daily at the border.

This page will be updated with any new information, or you can watch the livestream here. It will begin at 4pm.

3:35pm - A public health expert says New Zealand's COVID-19 response is still one of the best in the world, two years after the first case was discovered here.

Two years ago today, the first case of the coronavirus was confirmed in New Zealand, in a recent returnee. The entire country would go into lockdown for the first time less than a month later.

As New Zealand marks two years of living with COVID-19, 14,941 new community cases of the virus were announced yesterday alone and a total of 56 people have died from it.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker said this country still has the lowest death rate from COVID-19 in the OECD by a large margin, however.

"The pandemic is now thought to have killed about 20 million people across the globe," he said.

"And they're mainly in countries where, obviously, they've had limited resources, or they've had very poor leadership from the governments.

"It's interesting to see, in somewhere like Russia, the pandemic has now killed almost 0.8 percent of the entire population."

Read the full story here.

3pm - Labour MP and minister David Parker has tested positive for COVID-19 and says he is isolating at home.

"Some minor symptoms but not feeling too bad," he tweeted.

"Haven't been in the Beehive since Monday, so fortunately not with other MPs or staff while infectious."

2:55pm - The first of five flights from Australia to Auckland since the change in quarantine rules at midnight last night was due to touch down at 2:45pm, but is now expected to arrive around 15 minutes late.

The first is a Qantas flight, QF143 from Sydney, being operated by an Airbus A330 aircraft.

Track the current location of the flight here or watch it land live here.

2:20pm - Pharmac says the access criteria for remdesivir is being temporarily widened to allow hospitals to treat those with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19, who are at high risk of severe disease, as of today.

"We initially purchased remdesivir to treat people hospitalised with moderate to severe COVID‑19," says Pharmac chief medical officer Dr David Hughes.

"It was one of the first treatment options available for COVID-19 in New Zealand, and hospitals have been using it to treat patients who met certain access criteria.

"There is increasing evidence that remdesivir, an infusion treatment, is effective earlier in the course of COVID-19 illness. It is thought to be effective against a range of variants of concern too, including Omicron."

Dr Hughes says Pharmac is aware that as COVID-19 spreads throughout New Zealand, they need to move quickly and have treatments ready for those who are most at risk.

"This is a treatment being used around the world to treat COVID-19 and we were pleased to be able to secure additional remdesivir stock to support earlier use. We are continuing to talk with the supplier, Gilead, about ordering more," he says.

"Our clinical experts have given us advice to inform the eligibility criteria. DHB hospitals can order remdesivir and use it to treat both inpatients and outpatients, with COVID-19 at high risk of severe disease."

Dr Hughes adds that getting vaccinated and boosted is the best defence against COVID-19.

"For those who do become unwell with COVID-19, I want to reassure New Zealanders that Pharmac is working as quickly as possible to assess, and secure access to treatments," he says.

"We are doing this using specific funding allocated by the Government for the purchase of COVID-19 treatments, rather than from the Combined Pharmaceutical Budget."

1:50pm - Surf Life Saving Northern Region (SLSNR) officials say the actions of a COVID-19-positive swimmer rescued at Bethells Beach on Sunday undermine the integrity of the service at a critical time.

SLSNR CEO Matt Williams says for the swimmer to have gone to the beach knowing they had COVID-19 was "an incredibly poor decision".

"It's really disappointing that an individual who knew they were COVID-positive has made the decision to present at a crowded public beach," he says.

"To me, that alone is unacceptable. But for that person to then require rescuing by the Bethells Beach lifeguards, putting those guards and the viability of the service at Bethells itself at significant risk, worsens the situation considerably.

"At phase 3, we continue to have a strong trust requirement with the public we serve. This exposure puts our guards at risk unnecessarily and goes against the grain of working with lifeguards - one of our key messages this summer.

"The consequences of this event could impact the viability of our patrols at Bethells Beach going forward. We ask that anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or who is displaying symptoms, to stay home so this situation is not repeated."

1:27pm - Here is the latest data from the Ministry of Health on the outbreak and vaccination campaign:

COVID-19 vaccine update

Vaccinations administered in New Zealand  

  • Vaccines administered to date: 4,019,345 first doses; 3,959,359 second doses; 33,421 third primary doses; 2,347,710 booster doses: 240,354 paediatric first doses and 3,269 paediatric second doses 
  • Vaccines administered yesterday: 176 first doses; 423 second doses; 7 third primary doses; 13,707 booster doses; 1,175 paediatric first doses and 197 paediatric second doses   

People vaccinated (including those vaccinated overseas)*

  • All Ethnicities (percentage of eligible people aged 12+): 4,062,314 first dose (96.5%); 3,999,932 second dose (95%), 2,306,762 boosted (69.5% of those eligible)*
  • Māori (percentage of eligible people aged 12+): 518,899 first dose (90.9%); 498,008 second dose (87.2%), 194,470 boosted (58.5% of those eligible)
  • Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people aged 12+): 280,531 first dose (97.9%); 274,384 second dose (95.7%), 116,338 boosted (56.3% of those eligible)
  • 5 to 11-year-olds all ethnicities: 236,202 first dose (49.6%); 2,712 second dose (0.6%)
  • 5 to 11-year-olds - Māori: 34,530 first dose (29.9%); 441 second dose (0.4%)
  • 5 to 11-year-olds - Pacific Peoples: 20,520 first dose (41.5%); 371 second dose (0.8%) 

*Note, that the number for “people vaccinated” differs slightly from “vaccines administered” as it includes those that have been vaccinated overseas.

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

  • Northland DHB: first dose (90.3%); second dose (87.8%); boosted (68.2%)
  • Auckland Metro DHB: first dose (97.3%); second dose (96.1%); boosted (66.4%)
  • Waikato DHB: first dose (95.3%); second dose (93.5%); boosted (65.9%)
  • Bay of Plenty DHB: first dose (95.3%); second dose (93.3%); boosted (66.7%)
  • Lakes DHB: first dose (93.6%); second dose (91.4%); boosted (67.3%)
  • MidCentral DHB: first dose (96.8%); second dose (95.1%); boosted (72.1%)
  • Tairāwhiti DHB: first dose (93.4%); second dose (90.7%); boosted (67.9%)
  • Whanganui DHB: first dose (92.4%); second dose (90.4%); boosted (72.7%)
  • Hawke’s Bay DHB: first dose (97.2%); second dose (95.1%); boosted (70.4%)
  • Taranaki DHB: first dose (94.8%); second dose (93.1%); boosted (67%)
  • Wairarapa DHB: first dose (96.7%); second dose (95%); boosted (74.2%)
  • Capital & Coast DHB: first dose (98.7%); second dose (97.8%); boosted (77.2%)
  • Hutt Valley DHB: first dose (96.9%); second dose (95.6%); boosted (73.9%)
  • Nelson Marlborough DHB: first dose (96.8%); second dose (95.3%); boosted (75.6%)
  • West Coast DHB: first dose (93.1%); second dose (91.1%); boosted (73.3%)
  • Canterbury DHB: first dose (99.8%); second dose (98.6%); boosted (71.5%)
  • South Canterbury DHB: first dose (95.4%); second dose (94.1%); boosted (74.5%)
  • Southern DHB: first dose (97.9%); second dose (96.6%); boosted (73.9%) 

**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 344: Northland: 5; North Shore: 53; Middlemore: 128; Auckland: 100; Tauranga: 11; Taranaki: 1; Waikato: 28; Canterbury: 4; Southern: 4; Hutt Valley: 6; Capital and Coast: 3; Tairawhiti: 1.
  • Average age of current hospitalisations: 53
  • Cases in ICU or HDU: 5
  • Vaccination status of current hospitalisations (Northern Region only, excluding Emergency Departments): Unvaccinated or not eligible (36 cases / 14.3%); partially immunised <7 days from second dose or have only received one dose (6 cases / 2.4%); fully vaccinated at least 7 days before being reported as a case (110 cases / 43.7%); unknown (61 cases / 24.2%) 


  • Seven day rolling average of community cases (PCR): 8,398
  • Number of new community cases: 14,633
  • Number of new community cases (PCR): 3,821
  • Number of new community cases (RAT): 10,812
  • Location of new community cases (PCR & RAT): Northland (208), Auckland (9,305), Waikato (1,530), Bay of Plenty (762), Lakes (265), Hawke’s Bay (138), MidCentral (175), Whanganui (30), Taranaki (67), Tairāwhiti (60), Wairarapa (52), Capital and Coast (604), Hutt Valley (281), Nelson Marlborough (178), Canterbury (573), South Canterbury (24), Southern (372), West Coast (3); Unknown (6)
  • Number of new cases identified at the border: 23
  • Number of active community cases (total): 82,105 (cases identified in the past 21 days and not yet classified as recovered) 
  • Confirmed cases (total): 100,352

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 PCR tests total (last 24 hours): 22,742
  • PCR tests rolling average (last 7 days): 28,220
  • Number of Rapid Antigen Tests dispatched: 2.7 million (Please note that this number includes Rapid Antigen Tests dispatched since Friday morning)

1:25pm - The ministry has provided an update on the Rapid Antigen Tests:

Since Friday, 10.8 million Rapid Antigen Tests have arrived in the country. This follows 5.2 million that landed on Thursday.

These new RATs will flow through the supply chain and into Community Testing Centres, GPs, pharmacies and businesses where they can be accessed by anyone who needs one.

The wide-ranging and disruptive impact of COVID-19 on the domestic freight and courier networks has had an impact on distribution and delivery times for RATs in some areas.

We are working hard to ensure there is supply in all communities, including those in remote areas.

From today, the Ministry of Health will report the number of RATs dispatched from its central warehouse, instead of the overall volume (as previously reported), in the daily COVID-19 media statement.

Vaccination and COVID-19 hospitalisations

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases, we are continuing to see a disproportionate number of unvaccinated cases requiring hospital care.

Just 3% of eligible people aged 12 and over in New Zealand have had no doses of the vaccine, however, of the eligible people in Northland and Auckland hospitals with COVID-19, 12% have had no doses of the vaccine.  

Even this early in the Omicron outbreak, the figures show that, based on the data available, unvaccinated people are four times over-represented in the current hospitalisation data.

The numbers send a clear message: getting vaccinated will help to keep you out of hospital if you catch COVID-19, and could save your life.

We know getting a booster dose provides a high level of protection against Omicron. With Omicron spreading quickly, we’re continuing to encourage every remaining eligible person to get boosted as soon as possible.

If you had your second vaccination at least 3 months ago and you’re 18 and over, you can book online at or visit a walk-in or drive-thru vaccination clinic. For a list of vaccinations centres visit Healthpoint.

Protest update

The Ministry of Health remains concerned about the spread of COVID-19 at the protest at Parliament. 

There are now 17 people identified as having tested positive who were at the protest. Due to reluctance by protestors to get a COVID-19 test, the true number of cases linked to the protest is likely to be much higher. 

We advise all those currently at the protest, or who have been at the protest, who are displaying cold and flu symptoms to get a test and isolate until they receive their result.

1:24pm - The Ministry of Health has announced a drop in COVID cases with 14,633 new infections and 344 people in hospital on Monday.

Of the new community infections, 9305 are in Auckland, 1530 in Waikato, 762 in Bay of Plenty, 604 in Capital and Coast, 573 in Canterbury, 372 in Southern, 281 in Hutt Valley, 265 in Lakes, 208 Northland, 178 in Nelson Marlborough, 175 in MidCentral, 138 in Hawke's Bay, 67 in Taranaki, 60 in Tairāwhiti, 52 in Wairarapa, 30 in Whanganui, 24 in South Canterbury, six unknown and three in West Coast. 

The ministry announced there are 344 people in hospital with five in ICU or HDU.

Of the 344 people in hospital: 128 are in Middlemore, 100 in Auckland, 53 in North shore, 28 in Waikato, 11 in Tauranga, six in Hutt Valley, five in Northland, four in Canterbury, four in Southern, three in Capital and Coast, one in Taranaki and one in Tairawhiti. 

There are 23 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.

12:31pm - Kiwis will be able to purchase Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) from the supermarket from next week. 

Foodstuffs North Island chief executive Chris Quin told Newstalk ZB on Monday that there were several hundred thousand RATs on their way and he expects them to be on the shelves next week. 

He said they would cost shoppers $32.99 for a five-pack, which equals out to $6.60 per test. 

"We made a commitment at the beginning to sell these at our cost," Quin told Newstalk ZB.

"We think our customers would really appreciate having them available."

He said supply chain and warehouse teams were feeling quite a bit of pressure, especially in Auckland.

"The guys are working miracles every day to keep up and to keep delivering."

12:05pm - Applications for the COVID-19 Support Payment are open - and to help business owners navigate the rules, we've got answers to frequently asked questions below.

To be eligible for the payment, businesses are required to have a minimum 40 percent drop in revenue, over seven consecutive days during the six weeks prior to February 15, before the shift to phase two of the Government's Omicron plan.

The payment is available to help businesses in sectors most likely to experience a drop in revenue as a result of Omicron, a Treasury spokesperson told Newshub.

Examples of these businesses include those operating in hospitality, arts and recreation, private transport, and retail.

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson, and Inland Revenue answer basic questions below about how to apply, what information is required, and whether there is any flexibility on the 40 percent revenue loss threshold.

Read the full story here.

11:54am - In Victoria, they have seen a rise in COVID cases with 5852 new infections in the past 24 hours. 

Victoria Health said that there were three coronavirus deaths in the last reporting period.  

Hospitalisations have slightly increased with currently 283 people in hospital, up from 274 on Sunday with 42 people in ICU and seven on a ventilator. 

There are currently 41,205 active cases in Victoria.

11:46am - Over in Australia, New South Wales has seen a drop in COVID cases with 5856 new infections in the past 24 hours. 

The drop in cases for the 5th straight day comes after NSW recorded 6014 infections on Sunday.

NSW Health said that there were six coronavirus deaths in the last reporting period. 

 Hospitalisations have slightly decreased with currently 1136 people in hospital, down from 1146 on Sunday, with 55 in ICU.

10:55am - The SPCA is urging pet owners to take extra precautions when using or disposing of used COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), as some may contain a substance that can be toxic to animals. 

The warning comes after Australia's Animal Poison Helpline experienced an increase in calls from concerned pet owners whose animals, particularly dogs, had ingested the substance. 

Some RATs contain the chemical sodium azide, which is added as a preservative. Although sodium azide is highly toxic, each test contains a very small amount. While the tests pose no real risk to humans, smaller animals or pets that ingest the contents of multiple tests are at greater risk.  

While RATs are only just beginning to be more widely used in New Zealand, SPCA is asking pet owners not to leave the tests where their animals may be able to reach them. 

"Many pet owners will know how easy it can be for our animals to get into things they're not supposed to, which is why it's important for us to make sure we dispose of these tests properly and responsibly," says SPCA scientific officer Dr Alison Vaughan. 

"Sodium azide is toxic and small animals, or those who ingest multiple tests, could be at risk of poisoning. While sodium azide is likely to cause only mild, self-limiting symptoms such as hypotension (low blood pressure) in larger dogs, smaller animals may experience more serious symptoms."

Anyone who is concerned that their pet may have accidentally swallowed or chewed one of these vials should contact their vet or the Pet Poison Helpline (0800 869 738) immediately.

10:50am - A leading epidemiologist says two years on from New Zealand recording its first case of COVID-19, we still have one of the best responses worldwide. 

It comes after the Ministry of Health announced a record 14,941 new community COVID cases and 305 people in hospital on Sunday.  

New Zealand also currently has one of the highest R-values in the world, a COVID-19 modeller says. 

According to Rako Science, as of Sunday morning, New Zealand has an R-value of 3.74, meaning a person who tests positive for COVID-19 will on average pass it on to more than three people. 

Out of more than 180 countries, New Zealand currently has the highest R-value, with Myanmar coming in second with a value of 3.19.

Two years ago today, the first case of the coronavirus was confirmed in New Zealand, in a recent returnee.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker said despite having six people die with COVID-19 in the past three days, New Zealand still has the lowest death rate from coronavirus in the OECD by a large margin.

"The pandemic is now thought to have killed about 20 million people across the globe," Baker told RNZ.

"And they're mainly in countries where, obviously, they've had limited resources, or they've had very poor leadership from the governments.

"It's interesting to see, in somewhere like Russia, the pandemic has now killed almost 0.8 percent of the entire population."

Baker told RNZ by delaying the arrival of Omicron in New Zealand, meant we were able to meet the virus with "a lot of anti-bodies."

"By delaying the arrival of the Omicron variant, it's given us a good opportunity to get highly vaccinated and boosted," he said.

"And also, we have what is called peak immunity, because we've had our vaccine doses and boosters very recently and that means we're ready to meet this virus with a lot of anti-bodies."

10:20am - ACT is calling on the Government to scrap the isolation rules and open the borders to everyone. 

ACT Party leader David Seymour says the rules are "ineffective" and "it's time to reconnect with the rest of the world".

Here is the full statement: 

"By keeping the isolation and MIQ rules in place for people entering New Zealand, we are reducing case numbers by less than 0.2 per cent," says ACT Leader David Seymour.

"If 10,000 people arrived in New Zealand tomorrow, they would add 0.2 per cent to the New Zealand population. If they had as much COVID as New Zealand, they would add 0.2 per cent to daily cases. If they have to return a negative test before flying, almost none of them will have COVID. We are now keeping the borders closed to reduce our daily case numbers by a fraction of 0.2 per cent.

"We have more than 67,000 active cases in the community and just a handful daily at the border. Meanwhile, families are separated, businesses are desperate for staff and our tourism industry is collapsing.

"The rules for someone entering New Zealand should be the same as the rules for everyone else - and not just Kiwis in Australia. It's time to reconnect with the rest of the world.

"The Prime Minister needs to explain why Kiwis in Australia are biologically different from Kiwis in, say, California. Why are Aussies in Australia biologically different from Kiwis in Australia? Why are we making these odd distinctions?

"With 67,000 active cases in the community, the rest of the world will be looking at New Zealand and wondering why it's us locking them out.

"Even Ashley Bloomfield and the Ministry of Health now agree that the risk from the border is lower than the risk in the community.

"ACT believes it's time to move on from fear and take back control of our lives from unending government restrictions.

"We should not keep ineffective and costly rules because they make us feel comfortable. If rules are not useful they should go, and it should be up to the Government that imposes them on us to explain why they should stay. It's time to stop the fear and the control. It's time to move on."

10:05am - Air New Zealand says five flights will arrive from Australia on Monday on the first day of New Zealand's border re-opening.

Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty says emotions will be running high today.

Here is the full statement:

After 246 days since the travel bubble paused, Air New Zealand is thrilled to be bringing New Zealand citizens and permanent residents home from Australia to reconnect with their friends and whānau once again.

The airline has five flights arriving from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, with the first service arriving from Sydney into Auckland at 5:15pm this afternoon.  

"Emotions will be running high today as New Zealand citizens and permanent residents who have been waiting to come home from Aussie board their flight," Geraghty says. 

"Having the certainty they will be touching down on home soil and reuniting with friends and whānau in just a few short hours will come as a relief.

"This day signals the first step in reconnecting New Zealand with the world. We are incredibly humbled to play a small part in such a special day for many Kiwis and look forward to reuniting more families with Aotearoa over the coming months.

"We expect to have more than 300 flights available between New Zealand and Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast for the month of March alone. 

"Once we have a clearer view as to the level of demand, we will adjust the schedule accordingly, but we're confident there will be seats available."

In line with the Government's requirements, all customers will need to provide evidence of a negative PCR test 48 hours before departure or a supervised RAT or LAMP test 24 hours before departure and must complete a period of home isolation upon arrival into New Zealand.

The airline's international vaccination policy came into effect on 1 February with all passengers travelling on Air New Zealand's international network now required to show proof of full vaccination.

The easiest way for eligible customers to do this is by securely sharing their vaccination status and test results with Air New Zealand using the IATA Travel Pass app. The app will also guide travellers through what they need to know and do before departure.  

"We've kept our operation ready for this. In the last few months, it's been great to bring back some of our pilots, with some cabin crew returning to training from today, as we anticipate a return to global travel," Geraghty says. 

"We're looking forward to welcoming the tens of thousands of Kiwis who will be making plans to board our aircraft soon."

9:35am - The Prime Minister has hinted there's a chance New Zealanders returning from Australia on Monday may not have to self-isolate for the full seven days and the requirement could be scrapped.

From midnight, New Zealanders fully vaccinated have been allowed to return from Australia without the need to go through managed isolation and quarantine. Currently, however, they do have to undergo seven days of self-isolation.

But with high levels of COVID in New Zealand's community, the Government has been under increasing pressure to ditch the precautionary measure. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says an update on the matter can be expected later on Monday.

"What we've always said is we'd base the decisions on the number of cases we had at the time," Ardern told AM.

9:16am - Chair of Greater Wellington Daran Ponter says Wellingtonians can't have confidence that normal life will resume soon when anti-mandate protesters are building structures like toilets without challenge. 

"As Chair of Greater Wellington, I have asked the Police to review how and why the protesters were able to build such facilities without challenge," Ponter says. 

"Environmental impacts aside, when protesters start building permanent structures like this it doesn't give the schools, universities and businesses affected much confidence that normal life will be resuming soon."

8:49am - Iwi leaders are uniting to bring a message of peace from the Pipitea Marae as they hope for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing anti-mandate protest outside Parliament that has stretched into a 21st day. 

Here is the full statement:

The leaders of Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngā Iwi o Taranaki - with the tautoko of the Kiingitanga from Turangawaewae Marae - conducted a dawn ceremony at Pipitea Marae this morning to bring a message of peace and unity to the ongoing protest on their tupuna whenua (ancestral lands) in central Wellington.

As ahi kaa of the whenua, the iwi says their role is to provide protection to people and the environment in their takiwā (tribal area).

"This morning, we have laid down Te Kahu o Te Raukura - a cloak of aroha and peace over the Parliament grounds and our surrounding ancestral sites," says Pipitea chair Kura Moeahu.

"Te Raukura contains the three feathers representing honour, peace, and goodwill - the same symbol used at Parihaka."

Moeahu said Te Kahu o Te Raukura will stay as a form of cultural protection over their ancestral whenua - including Parliament until the dispute is ended.

He says the iwi acknowledge the hurt and upset of the protestors and also the effect on local residents and businesses.

"This raruraru (dispute) has gone on for too long and we urge the parties to find a way forward so we can begin the process of healing."

Chair of Taranaki based Te Kotahitanga o Te Ātiawa Liana Poutu participated in this morning's karakia along with leadership from around Taranaki Maunga.

Poutu said Ngā Iwi o Taranaki supported the calls of their Wellington-based whānau for a peaceful resolution.

"We tautoko Te Kahu o Te Raukura and the desire of our whanaunga for calm and resolution to the current situation."

Kiingitanga spokesperson Rahui Papa said the Kiingitanga unites with Taranaki Whānui and Ngā Iwi o Taranaki at this time.

"For generations we have worked together and prayed together with ngaa kiiwai o te kete. This morning we do that as an expression of deep tautoko Taranaki and all iwi of the motu to bring peace and kotahitanga."

Taranaki Whānui Chair Kara Puketapu-Dentice says iwi leaders across the motu have joined the call for a peaceful outcome.

"There has been a lot of hurt and it's time to find a way forward to unite the nation again.

"We need to look to the future when we will be able to move freely and without fear of the sickness that covid has brought.

"Until then, we need to hang tough and respect our whenua, our moana, our marae, our raukura and each other."

8:30am - Newshub's Australian correspondent Emma Cropper told AM on Monday that Air New Zealand is expecting around 9000 Kiwis to return home this week. 

"There will be just six flights leaving Australia today, the first one will take off from Sydney in just four hours," she said. 

"Air New Zealand is expecting that 9000 Kiwis will cross the Tasman over the coming week. 

"They will be people that need to get home, the Kiwis who have been kicked out of countries from all over the world and have been hunkering down here in Australia because of those close ties Australia has with New Zealand and those who need to get home for emergency reasons. 

"The rest will be waiting for that home isolation to be shortened but incredible, today as New Zealand starts to relax its international border, it was on this day two years ago we recorded our first case of COVID-19.       

8:18am - Tourism operators are urging the Government to ditch the seven days home isolation requirement for anyone arriving in New Zealand from overseas.

Monday is the first day of the Government's five-step border re-opening plan, which sees fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents in Australia being able to return home without going into MIQ. But they still have to do seven days of self-isolation when they arrive. 

Love Taupo general manager Jane Wilson told AM on Monday the Government needs to review the self-isolation requirements "as soon as possible". 

"The delay will impact us. I was just looking at figures yesterday, there were almost 15,000 community cases and only 41 at the border," she says. 

"What I think our industry is really struggling with is to really reconcile the risk mitigations strategy that the Government have on what is really happening on the ground and it's is absolutely critical that they review this as soon as possible."

Wilson said Taupo tourism operators have had a good three weeks of summer business but that won't get them through the year.

She says even with some tourists able to return in July, with self-isolation requirements no tourists will come to New Zealand. 

"I think for our industry who are holding on by a thread, I suppose in Taupo we can be grateful that we had a relatively good summer so far but three weeks of a summer period doesn't really help to keep a business alive for the whole year," Wilson told AM. 

"Traditionally, having those international visitors here over that summer period, they travel outside of school holidays, they travel mid-week and really extend that summer peak from three to four weeks to three to four months. 

"So I think for our industry, they have been holding on with the promise that the borders will re-open at some point but I think the big thing that is missing here and the Government and the ministers have been talking about, yes we are allowing international visitors in July but really they just won't come. 

"Our international offshore agents are telling us that no one will travel if they have to self-isolate, they'll take another option and head to Australia or other countries where they have open borders and can make the most of their holiday time."

Wilson said the first two steps of the border re-opening which is focused on allowing Kiwis back into the country won't help tourism operators.   

"No, I think that the Kiwis that are returning here have been shut out of the country for two years and they are absolutely coming home to visit friends and family," she said. 

"Hopefully many of them will meet in the middle and come to Taupo and do that but generally the key for them is coming home to see friends and family."

8:06am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that they have asked for advice about self-isolation requirements as new cases coming in from the border "don't have as much impact". 

"What we have already said at the beginning of February, once you get cases at a certain point it actually comes to the point that cases at the border don't have as much impact because of what you have in the community," she told AM. 

"We have asked for that advice because obviously we are at that place for consideration but what we want to think about is the scale of extra cases we are bringing in. 

"We have to think about when we open up to everybody, at the moment we are expecting this week 6000 people to come, but when you start opening up to tourists again, it's tens of thousands and we do have to think about that as we sequence our opening across the next few months."

7:48am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told AM that Cabinet will be discussing self-isolation requirements today.

She said they will make an announcement on their decision this afternoon.

"We will be discussing that very question this afternoon at Cabinet," she said.

"We've always said that we wanted when we made these decisions they were based on the best possible advice.

"We had our expert advisory committee report to us just late yesterday so we are moving very quickly to consider that as a cabinet and will be making announcements this afternoon."

7:20am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is under increasing pressure to ditch the home isolation requirement for people arriving in New Zealand. 

Monday is the first day of the Government's five-step border re-opening plan, which sees fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents in Australia being able to return home without going into MIQ. 

Ardern will be on AM at about 7:40am today and you can watch the interview on Three on here.

6:44am - Newshub's Australian correspondent Emma Cropper told AM on Monday that Sydney International Airport is very quiet with only a "handful" of flights scheduled to fly to New Zealand on Monday. 

"We are actually the only ones standing inside a very large Sydney International Airport and that isn't unexpected," she says. 

"The first flight will take off to New Zealand in just a few hours and it will only be followed by a handful of others throughout the day. 

"These flights will be carrying Kiwis that need to get home, the ones that have been stuck here in Australia or I've even been speaking to people that have been stuck overseas and have flown into Australia to stay here for a few weeks waiting for the international border to open. 

"The rest will wait until that seven days home isolation has been scrapped before they return for a visit."

6:20am - Speaking to AM on Monday, reporter Perry Wilton said that Auckland Airport had an "airy" feel to it on the opening day of stage one of New Zealand's border re-opening. 

"It is a bit airy here, there is hardly anybody here just yet and that's because most of the action will be kicking off this afternoon when 910 people will be coming through these doors [arrivals] right here from Australia," he told AM. 

"They won't have to come through MIQ, they won't have to do that two-week stint but they are going to do one-week self-isolation at home which is why we are not seeing that huge surge in demand just yet. 

There are only five flights coming in from Australia today, the first of which is touching down at around 2:30pm from Sydney, the last of which from Melbourne at around 9:30pm.

6:15am - Kia ora, good morning, and welcome to Newshub's live coverage of the COVID-19 Omicron outbreak and the Parliament protest for Monday, February 28.