As it happened: Two new community COVID cases, Auckland going to alert level 3 for seven days, rest of country going to level 2

The Prime Minister announced the alert level changes on Saturday night.
The Prime Minister announced the alert level changes on Saturday night. Photo credit: Getty.

Auckland will move to alert level 3 and the rest of New Zealand to level 2 starting 6am on Sunday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced.

It comes after the Ministry of Health announced on Saturday evening that there is a new case of COVID-19 in the community - Case M, the older sibling of a Papatoetoe High School student. Their mother has also tested positive.

It's still unclear how Case M became infected, and due to the lack of a lack of clear epidemiological link and the long time period they could have been infectious for, Ardern has instituted another strict lockdown.

11:20pm - A statement from police:

Police will re-establish road checkpoints in and out of the Auckland region when Alert Level 3 restrictions come into effect tomorrow morning.

The checkpoints on the outskirts of Auckland will be stopping vehicles and questioning drivers, ensuring there is no non-essential movement through the region.

From tomorrow morning, anyone attempting to travel across the regional boundaries should expect to be stopped and asked for proof of essential travel.

The exemption process will run the same way as it has previously.

More information is available on the COVID-19 website (

Police will also be highly visible across the region to provide reassurance and to educate people and ensure they are aware of the restrictions in place.

All front counters in Tāmaki Makaurau will be closed to the public except for Henderson (Waitematā), College Hill (Auckland City) and the Counties Manukau Hub, which are all open 24/7 but with restricted access.

North Shore Policing Centre will also be open 7am to 10pm, seven days a week, with restricted access.

Where possible, members of the public are asked to visit us online.

You can report non-emergency situations online at or call 111 if it’s an emergency.

The rest of the country outside of Auckland will be at Level 2 from 6am tomorrow.

Our Alert Level 2 safety measures focus on physical distancing, hygiene standards, and contact registers.

For the latest information and updates on the Alert Level restrictions visit

11:15pm - A statement from the Restaurant Association: 

The announcement of a return to levels 2 and 3, is a major blow for an industry already struggling for survival says Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois.

"This is another major blow for our industry who are already struggling to recover from the compounded impact of changes to alert levels and border closures. With borders closed, our revenues continue to suffer and these changes of alert levels are incredibly difficult to manage.

"Sunday is a big day for hospo and our businesses will have stocked up on food for the days ahead incurring wastage costs on top of significantly reduced revenues. Whilst it’s good to see that the wage subsidy has been confirmed this time, we cannot stress enough the urgent need for the government to respond with a tailored financial package for our industry."

11:10pm - The Manukau Institute of Technology - which we now know one of Saturday's cases attends - told Newshub that 10 students from Papatoetoe High School attended a trades course at the institute earlier this week. 

"This was after MIT had been informed by the principal they had all self-isolated for the previous week while the school was closed and returned negative tests for COVID-19.

"This information was communicated to all staff working with these learners on Sunday evening.

"Three MIT staff oversaw the progress of the students on these days."

11pm - Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles also says Saturday's cases are concerning. 

"Once again we have an unclear chain of transmission that led to case M. We know that they are a sibling of a student at Papatoetoe High who has already returned three negative tests and has not had any symptoms. Though it would be highly unusual, it is still a possibility this could be the source of case M's infection. 

"The serology testing may help shed some light on this as will the genome sequencing. We also have the fact that the case has been infectious in the community for as long as the last week and has visited a number of locations. Moving Auckland to Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country to Alert Level 2 puts us in the best position to get on top of this outbreak as quickly as possible.

"It is absolutely vital that everyone, regardless of where they are in New Zealand, keeps an eye out for symptoms and if they have any, quickly contacts Healthline or their GP to arrange to get tested. 

"Symptoms can include feeling tired and achy, loss of sense of taste and/or smell, fever, or respiratory symptoms like a running nose. People should also be wearing masks, and using the COVID Tracer app, including making sure Bluetooth is enabled in the app."

10:50pm - University of Auckland modeller Shaun Hendy says there are a "number of concerns" with the latest case.

"One of the cases developed symptoms on Tuesday, which means that may have been infectious for the whole of last week. This may mean that there are downstream cases currently in the community that are also infectious. 

"Secondly, although it is possible that the chain of infection leads directly back to the cluster of cases at the school, the school pupil in the family tested negative three times and has not had symptoms. It is not impossible for someone to test negative three times, but it is unusual. Thus it is possible that the infection came via another route and that may mean there is another cluster of cases in the community, linked to the school or otherwise. 

"Finally, assuming the whole genome sequencing does establish a link to the cluster at the high school, these new cases have shown us the limitations of our contact tracing system when people are not able or willing to cooperate. Officials will need to take a look at how they can ensure people who need to isolate both understand the need to do so and are able to. New Zealand has been among the best in world in handling COVID-19 but these latest cases should be a reminder that we are all in this together."

10:45pm - Foodstuffs says it has "swung into action" after the latest alert level announcement.

"Our focus continues to be the health and safety of our teams and customers, and ensuring every New Zealander has access to grocery essentials," says Chris Quin, CEO of Foodstuffs North Island.

"I want to let our customers know that we continue to have heightened best practice hygiene and cleaning protocols in store, and we are working very closely with our supplier partners to meet customers’ needs."

10:40pm - New Zealanders have taken to social media to share messages of hope and support for Aucklanders who will enter alert level 3 lockdown from midnight on Saturday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced the alert level change on Saturday evening.

Read more here.

10:35pm - The ACT Party's David Seymour has released a statement: 

"Unfortunately ACT predicted tonight's plunge back into Level 3 lockdown for Auckland and the rest of New Zealand into Level 2," says ACT Leader David Seymour.

"I said yesterday the South Auckland cluster wasn't under control. It wasn't. There have been too many cases popping up randomly for the Government to be as confident as it was. We were a sitting duck, praying for luck. 

"Since August ACT has been regularly calling for a complete re-set of our approach to tackling coronavirus. Instead, the Government was busy congratulating itself. It has an attitude problem.

"There has been no significant improvement to our defences since the second lockdown, but the impact of this fourth lockdown will be so much worse.

"Despite the many support packages in place the disruption of lockdown cripples businesses. Cafes that just got going after the third lockdown will have to dump several days stock, because they got only nine hours' notice of the fourth.

"It didn't need to be this way.

"Ordering mandatory use of the official COVID Tracer app, which ACT called for on January 12, would have changed New Zealand's culture around keeping the virus at bay.

"Implementing daily saliva tests for border and MIQ staff may have picked up the source of the outbreak we're now battling.

"If the Government had gone hard and early on negotiating to get vaccines instead of boasting we didn't need one, we might not be in this position. 

"If the Government had put in place a multi-disciplinary, public and private sector Epidemic Response Unit, like Taiwan's, instead of relying on the Ministry of Health, we might not be in this position.

"These things weren't only within the Government's ability to implement, they were recommended by the Simpson Roche Report. The Government has failed because it had an attitude problem.

"The Government must stop being complacent, and get started on continuous improvement. 

"Ignoring that advice has got us where we are tonight, yo-yo-ing in and out of lockdown – the very thing the Prime Minister promised we would avoid on her watch."

10:30pm - The Ministry of Health has released a statement noting that we have recorded two new community cases on Saturday. The latest case - the mother in the household - is currently asymptomatic. All other household contacts have tested negative, but continue to isolate. 

Case M, the sibling of a Papatoetoe High School student, is a student at the Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) and also works part-time, one day a week, at Kerry Logistics (Oceania) Limited.

"Affected MIT students have been emailed this evening," the ministry says.

There are a number of other locations of interest, including a gym the case visited after receiving a test. More information can be found here

"Additional community testing centres are available in Auckland this weekend, many with extended hours. These are in Otara, Botany, Pakuranga Heights, Balmoral, Henderson and Northcote," the ministry says.

"In east Auckland, a CTC at Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pakuranga Heights, will be open from 8am – 4pm Sunday. The Botany CTC at Golflands will be open from 9am - 5pm Sunday."

For up-to-date information on testing locations in Auckland, visit and all testing locations nationwide, visit the Healthpoint website.

10:20pm - Newshub Nation will air a special episode at 10am on Sunday morning with the latest on the developing COVID-19 situation. 

10:15pm - A statement from National's Judith Collins:

The new lockdown in Auckland and Level 2 for the rest of the country will be disappointing for all, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

"No one wants to be yo-yoing in and out lockdown.

"National said the decision to go out of Level 3 on February 17 was a bold and ambitious call.

"At the time we still didn’t know the source of the original case, there were two new community cases of the more transmissible strain that day, and not all of the high school students had been tested.

"Now Auckland is back in lockdown with all the consequences that brings.

"We need to consider tougher penalties against those who are not following public health advice around isolation and testing.

"All New Zealanders will be frustrated at the level of non-compliance. Relying on people to do the right thing looks to have reached its limits and we may need tougher penalties to make sure everyone follows the rules.

"We urge Aucklanders affected by isolation measures and requests for testing to follow public health advice and orders."

10:10pm - COVID-19 modeller Michael Plank has given his thoughts on Saturday's developments. 

"There were two key factors contributing to the decision to move Auckland to alert level 3. One is that there is currently no established link between the new case and the existing Papatoetoe cluster," he says.

"The second is that the new case has likely been infectious since 21 February and has visited a number of popular locations in the community. Together these two factors mean there’s a high chance there are other cases we don’t know yet about, and they have potentially been out in the community for some time."

10pm - The Prime Minister says Auckland will move back into COVID-19 alert level 3 and the rest of New Zealand to level 2 after the emergence of a new community case.

The alert level changes take place at 6am on Sunday and will last for at least seven days. 

Find out more about what alert level 3 and alert level 2 means for you here.

9:55pm - An emergency alert has been sent out to mobile phones notifying Kiwis about the change in alert levels.

As it happened: Two new community COVID cases, Auckland going to alert level 3 for seven days, rest of country going to level 2

9:45pm - A statement from Auckland Mayor Phil Goff:

Another case of COVID-19 in the community was not the news anyone wanted to hear on a Saturday evening, Mayor Goff said tonight.

"I understand Aucklanders’ frustration at having to return to Level 3 lockdown, with the disruption it causes to everyone’s lives and the impact it has on businesses, many of which are already struggling," he said.

"However, the consequences of letting the virus spread would be far more disruptive and would put people’s lives at risk.

"No one wants to be in lockdown, but it is the most effective means by which to stop a potential new outbreak, especially given the increased transmissibility of the new variant of the disease,” he said.

"We are in a much better place than almost any other country in the world because of our strong collective response so far, so we need to keep it up.

"Aucklanders are old hands at this now. We know what to do to beat the virus and we will get on and do it.

"Please keep following all the Ministry of Health guidelines around physical distancing, scanning the app and maintaining good hygiene practices.

"If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, or you were at a location of interest as advised by health authorities, please contact Healthline and ask about getting tested. If you do get a test, please follow the instructions of health authorities, including isolating while you wait for results."

9:40pm - Finance Minister Grant Robertson says because Auckland's alert level 3 will last for seven days, the wage subsidy scheme has been triggered nationwide. 

We have got through lockdowns in the past by employers and employees working together.

Robertson confirms that Cabinet began its meeting at 7:45pm.

9:35pm - Jacinda Ardern says the virus is the problem and we can't vilify people or they may not come forward to get tested.

Dr Bloomfield says it is very unlikely any of the student's negative tests were false-negatives.

No thought has been given to enforcement action against the rule-breakers, Ardern tells reporters. The focus has been on getting information about the new case.

9:30pm - A new release from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment:

Businesses with workers needing to cross the Alert Level boundary near Auckland will need evidence of permitted activity or an exemption. Travel documents that were issued earlier this month remain valid.

Any business with workers that have lost their documents, or where they need to add or remove a staff member, should log back in to the system to make the changes or re-download the documents at

Any business’s exemption request that was still in progress at the end of the last Alert Level 2/3 will remain active. Assessment will be carried out against the new criteria and businesses will receive a notification once a decision is made.

It is important that businesses log in and remove workers that don’t need to travel any more, or no longer work for the business as it will deactivate the QR code.

Workers should have the printed copy, or an electronic copy on their phone so police can verify the document to make travel across the Alert Level boundary as quick as possible.

9:25pm - Dr Bloomfield says the new case went to the gym after getting a test.

Breaches of self-isolation rules, high exposure events and the lack of information about how the infection came about makes this situation concerning, the Prime Minister says.

The cases should have been acting as if they were at alert level 4, she says.

Cabinet will have 'check-ins' over coming days, Ardern tells media. During the lack lockdown, there was a review of alert levels every 24 hours. She expects we will be alert level 3 for the full seven days.

9:20pm - The PM says there is financial support for people needing to self-isolate or get tested. Unfortunately, still people have been heading to work, she says. 

For the most part, the school community has done well. The PM hasn't asked for large events currently underway in Auckland to stop immediately. You need to provide some lead-in time to the lockdown, she says. The 6am lockdown will affect church services and events on Sunday.

Ardern advises people act on Saturday night as if they are at alert level 3.

9:15pm - Dr Bloomfield is now speaking about the new case. The new case's sibling from the high school had returned three negative tests.

Tests of other household members return three negatives results. One additional family member, the mother, has a positive test result. This indicates early infection.

Information on locations of interest can be found here

The case, a 21-year-old man, got advice after symptoms emerged.

9:10pm - Auckland is going to alert level 3 for seven days. The rest of the country will go to alert level 2. This reflects the significance of the situation and the lack of information about how the infection came about.

Ardern is detailing the normal measures applicable under alert level 3. The Auckland Round the Bays will be cancelled, she says. Inter-regional travel will be highly limited.

The lockdown comes into effect at 6am on Sunday morning.

Ardern says that some people have not followed the rules in the past.

9:05pm - Jacinda Ardern says she was advised of the case on Saturday afternoon, the sibling of a Papatoetoe High School. That could provide a straight-forward explanation for the infection, but in this case, it has not, she says as the student has tested negative three times.

Genome sequencing is now underway.

She says if the person-to-person link cannot be made, that is a "significant issue".  This case has not been in isolation and has been infectious for possibly up to a week. They have been to several sites with many people, such as a supermarket.

We may well have close contacts who are already infected, she says.

9pm - In case you missed it, there are four new locations of interest: Hunter Plaza, Burger King Highland Park, Your Health Pharmacy, and Pak n Sav Manukau. You can get the latest information here

8:50am - Welcome to Newshub's live updates. What was an ordinary Saturday evening has suddenly been turned on its head with news of a new community COVID-19 case.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield will address the nation at 9pm.