Coronavirus: New Zealand's yo-yoing between alert levels draws criticism from Opposition MPs

New Zealand's yo-yoing between alert levels has left Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wide open to criticism that the Government was too quick to relax the rules last week.

Several MPs, including at least one minister, found out there was a lockdown coming as they were watching Saturday night's fight between heavyweights Joseph Parker and Junior Fa at Auckland's Spark Arena. 

Labour's Willie Jackson was at the fight, and he popped out to Zoom into the urgent, secret Cabinet meeting.

After he learnt there was going to be a lockdown, he went straight back in to watch the fight.

"I did not have an individual conversation with every member of my team or Cabinet about what their individual movements could or should be for the remainder of the evening," Ardern says.

But ACT leader David Seymour took a different view.

"He [Jackson] probably noticed that David Clark when mountain biking in the middle of a lockdown. David Clark was still a minister, why would this guy expect consequences from Jacinda Ardern. The difficulty is that it sends a signal to the whole community and that's why we have trouble right now," he says.

Joseph Parker's proud and doting aunty, National Party leader Judith Collins, was ringside too. She got the heads-up from Ardern there was going to be a lockdown.

"I considered going home early, but having spoken to the Prime Minister and she said if I go home early then everyone else should be going home early. And the other thing is I'm no more special than anyone," she says.

Opposition politicians are questioning whether this whole mess could've been avoided.

"They should've kept us at level 3. They didn't know if they'd contained the outbreak, they just winged it," Seymour says.

"In hindsight, people, I feel, probably will be wondering whether or not we came out early, partly considering we had tests where the results hadn't come back," Collins says.

Right or wrong, Ardern won't be taking that risk again. Auckland is now in lockdown for at least the full week.

"I think one of the things we're feeling quite cautious about is the fact that this particular variant does seem to be suggesting that it does have a longer tail," Ardern says.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says they are seeing more "unpredictability" with the United Kingdom variant, which is what the infected people have.

The problem is that 'unpredictability' and a 'long tail' bolsters the argument to have stayed at higher levels last week. 

You'll never hear the Government admit it's made a mistake, but it can redeem itself with action.

The major U-turn to prioritise south Auckland for vaccinations is a start, which means it's listening to the public.

But there still major issues around enforcing isolation, better mask-wearing, mandatory QR scanning, and better, more extensive testing.