Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pushes back on 'continuous lockdowns' query during Facebook Live

It seems lockdown fatigue is setting in for some Kiwis, after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked during a Facebook Live if she's "going to lock us down for the next three years". 

"No, no, definitely not," Ardern responded with a smile, during one of her routine Q&A sessions with her Facebook followers on Monday evening. "No one wants to be in this position."

It came after Ardern announced that Alert Level 4 restrictions would remain in place for the entire country until at least Friday, while Auckland - where the majority of community cases of COVID-19 have been detected - will be in lockdown until at least Tuesday. 

"Elimination has been good for New Zealand in every respect because relative to other countries, like the UK or United States, we've had a smaller number of days with restrictions, compared to them," Ardern said in her Facebook Live. 

"We've had fewer cases, we've had fewer deaths, our economy has done better. No one in the world has come out of this period without an effect; everyone's had some impact in some way, but in so many ways, the impact on us has been smaller."

Ardern said that's "not to diminish how hard" it's been on New Zealanders. 

"What I want very much for all of us is, over the next period of time through to the end of the year, is that we eliminate COVID again and that we get as many people as possible vaccinated, and then we look in the New Year - with all of the research and evidence we have - as to what the new strategy is from there. 

"But for now, elimination, vaccination - those are the two really important points."

The Government signalled earlier this month plans to slowly start opening up New Zealand to the rest of the world, but whether that means dropping our COVID-19 elimination strategy is still to be decided. 

From next year, travellers deemed "low-risk" will be able to enter New Zealand if they are fully vaccinated. The Government is also running a self-isolation trial for vaccinated Kiwis later this year, though experts have warned it could be "quite challenging" to control. 

A change in the Government's COVID-19 strategy was evident earlier this year with the February Valentine's outbreak, when heavy Alert Level 4 restrictions were set aside and contact tracing was ramped up. 

But the Delta variant is more transmissible and proving too quick to rely on contact tracing alone, hence the Government's decision to bring back Alert Level 4. 

Overseas, commentators have been brutal about the Government's decision to lock down the country over a handful of cases, with New Zealand described as "the land of panic".  

Ardern defended the Government's elimination strategy during her Facebook Live when a follower asked "how we'll manage with continuous lockdowns". 

"The great thing is, we haven't had continuous lockdowns," Ardern responded. 

"In fact, we were, I believe, the last country in the OECD to have Delta reach us, so there you go. And we have seen countries where it is possible to get rid of it. So, that continues to be our goal."

But not all of the questions from followers were so thorny. Some just wanted to know how Ardern is coping, "running a country through these weird times". 

"That's very nice of you to ask, thank you," Ardern said. 

"No one around the world, I think, will have run for office thinking that they might find themselves managing during a pandemic. But there will always be issues that you don't anticipate, whether it's a natural disaster or a pandemic, and you just have to be prepared for that. 

"In terms of how our family is doing, really well, thank you. I consider us to be very lucky as a family, so thank you for asking after us."