12 Mar 2021

Covid-19: Auckland moves to alert level 1 from noon today - PM

11:59 am on 12 March 2021

Auckland will move to alert level 1 from midday today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced.

Missed the announcement? Watch it back here:

In a media conference at 11.30am today, Ardern said Cabinet met last night to make a preliminary decision on the alert levels.

"In order to confirm our decision today, we wanted three important things to occur - first there were no new community cases overnight," she said.

The announcement follows six days of alert level 2.

All of the 15 cases from the February cluster are either in quarantine or recovered, Ardern said.

She thanked Aucklanders.

"Covid requires a team effort. If you're not actively scanning in, please. Turn on bluetooth if you're not using it... businesses... please make QR codes highly visible."

"Look after one another and enjoy your weekend."

It has been 14 days since the last community case - a whole transmission cycle, Ardern said.

Ardern said waiting for more information was why Auckland did not shift alert levels on Thursday.

"We've actually done something a little unusual. Normally we lift an order at midnight."

That order she's referring to is a legal order.

Hopefully moving at midday "showed some confidence we are moving as fast as possible".

The decision yesterday was in principle and depended on today's test results, Ardern said.

Ardern expected that for the most part, the public would appreciate the work the government had done.

"If there had been cases today, the government would have had to review its decision making.

"For us, it was about seeing the hard data.

"What we're being criticised for is this assumption that we made a decision and didn't act on it. In fact, what we did was try and maximise as much as possible, the ability to move early for businesses."

Ardern denied that the timing had anything to do with her schedule.

Answering questions from the media, Ardern said her partner Clarke Gayford wasn't made privy to Cabinet's alert level decision before the public.

This follows a tweet he posted that said a decision had been made in principle, but it depended on final test results today.

She said she has not breached the Cabinet manual.

"We have always taken a cautious approach ... if we had taken a decision last night without having gone the full 14 days as we intended and without having those day 12 test results come through and we had an issue, I'm sure we would have had a lot of commentary about that.

"I would rather have that assurance, I'm sure the public would as well."

Meanwhile, Auckland's hospitality industry was left on tenterhooks last night on the eve of three big days of America's Cup racing.

It's a busy sporting weekend for the city with America's Cup events and a Super Rugby Aotearoa match between the Blues and Highlanders at Eden Park scheduled for Sunday.

The Auckland Arts Festival also has dozens of shows and events planned through until 21 March.

A move to alert level 1 would make a lot of difference, especially for retail and hospitality businesses in the CBD, chief executive Nick Hill of Auckland Unlimited, the city council's economic and cultural agency said.

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