Coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern provides official COVID-19 alert level 2 guidelines for New Zealand

'Bubbles' can cease, domestic travel will recommence, businesses will reopen, and kids can go back to school, when New Zealand shifts into COVID-19 alert level 2.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has provided the official guidelines for alert level 2 in preparation for Cabinet's decision next week about shifting the nation out of level 3.

All businesses will be able to reopen, but they must have good hygiene practices in place, and the Prime Minister is encouraging Kiwis to work from home where they can.

  • businesses can restart for staff and customers
  • 'bubbles' can cease
  • domestic travel recommences 
  • schools and early learning centres can open
  • gatherings both indoors and outdoors are limited to 100 people
  • public places reopen
  • sport and recreation comes back, including professional sports competitions
  • home gatherings must be kept small
  • hospitality must follow the three S's: seated, separated, single-server

At alert level 2, cafes, restaurants and bars will be able to reopen. But customers must be seated, because crowds of strangers with no physical distancing will make it too difficult for contact tracing.

Kiwis must be separated as much as possible, and every table must have a single server.

Retail stores must practice physical distancing, while shopping malls must follow the rules that supermarkets adhere to, such as having customers line up outside when the venue gets too populated.

You will finally be able to get a haircut, but hairdressers must wear personal protective equipment (PPR) because of how close they get to their clients.  

The maximum gathering limit under level 2 will be 100 and it will be the same for outdoor events. The Prime Minister said it is just too risky to allow so many people to congregate.

New Zealanders will no longer have to stick to their 'bubble' at alert level 2, and you will be able to travel around the country, which the Prime Minister noted will be welcomed by the tourism industry.

But the international border will remain closed except for returning Kiwis. 

Schools, universities, and learning centres will reopen under alert level 2, but Ardern said schools will open the week after the announcement is made.

Public health measures will remain unchanged: if you are sick or have any symptoms you must stay home, Ardern said, reminding the country to continue to wash all surfaces regularly.

The Prime Minister urged Kiwis to keep a distance from strangers at alert level 2, just to be safe, but you will be able to interact more closely with someone you know.  

The Ministry of Health reported just one new case of coronavirus in New Zealand on Thursday, and earlier this week we had two consecutive days with no new cases - promising results compared to some other developed nations. 

Out of 3.8 million cases of the virus worldwide, 1.2 million of them have been in the United States, and of the global death toll of more than 265,000, more than 74,000 have been in the US. 

Ardern said while New Zealand's results have been promising, "it doesn't mean the war is over". 

She said alert level 2 has been designed to get as many people back to work as possible and the economy back up and running in a safe way. 

The prospect of entering level 2 has been "made possible only by our collective actions at levels 4 and 3", Ardern added, "to beat the virus and break the chain of transmission". 

"There is a much higher level of individual responsibly required at Level 2 to prevent the spread of the virus," she said.

"Even though the economy will be significantly opened up we still need everyone to remain vigilant and continue to act like you and those around you have the virus."

She said Cabinet's decision about whether to shift the country out of level 3 will take into consideration the impact of restrictions, "and ensuring we don't put at risk all of the gains we have made". 

The announcement will be made on Monday, May 11.