Coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern rules out move to COVID-19 alert level 4, says edge of Auckland cluster is in sight

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is ruling out a move to COVID-19 alert level 4 and says the edge of the Auckland cluster is in sight - which bodes well for a move down the alert levels.

Six new cases were announced on Wednesday, five of which were from the community.

"Today's results are encouraging," Ardern told reporters.

With no surge in cases and no more beyond the cluster, things are looking up for a shift down alert levels. Cabinet will decide on Friday whether the country is ready for a move. 

Auckland and the rest of New Zealand could move down alert levels as soon as Monday, though it'll more likely be Wednesday.

But there definitely won't be a shift up to a stricter lockdown.

"Of course we will continue to see cases, but no, absolutely no intention to escalate nor any need to," Ardern said.

While an alert level 4 lockdown is off the table, Aucklanders Newshub spoke to are still a bit nervous about lifting restrictions completely.

"There are too many people with the virus right now and it's not really safe," one said.

"Wouldn't want to jump into anything that quickly," another added.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photo credit: Getty Images

But if most of New Zealand is liberated to alert level 1, it won't be exactly as people remember.

"There will be some things we'll have to routinely do, even at alert level 1, that we weren't doing before," Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.

These changes are using the COVID Tracer app regularly, wearing masks in some settings like public transport or supermarkets, and physically distancing around strangers.

"Want we want to do is to maintain the sorts of [the] wide range of activities we were able to do in alert level 1 when we go back down," Dr Bloomfield said.

To get there, the Auckland community cluster needs to be cordoned off, but the Prime Minister said that is in sight. 

"We're seeing the perimeter of the cluster," she said. "A way to go yet, but there are early signs of the management of this cluster."

If most of the country moves to level 1 next week, it's unlikely Auckland would too.

To date, whole alert levels haven't been skipped and alert level 2 is about checking things are under control.

If wider New Zealand does move down to alert level 1, Auckland could expect to be at level 2 for a couple of weeks before returning to a new normal.