The government has announced the current Covid-19 alert level 3 response in parts of Waikato and Northland will remain for another five days.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced the decision at the daily 1pm briefing today.
Watch the announcement here:
The areas will remain at the current level until at least Monday. Auckland continues to remain at step 1 of level 3.
There were 55 new cases in the community today, including two from a single household in Waikato that have not yet been linked to earlier cases.
Both regions had tougher restrictions imposed in the past week because of positive Covid-19 cases with links to Auckland's Delta outbreak.
In Northland, there have been no reported cases since two women travelled there from Auckland and tested positive for the virus. However, authorities had been struggling with contact-tracing and a lack of places of interest, due to one of the women's refusal to co-operate.
The second woman, who was located in West Auckland this week, has been co-operating.
Hipkins today thanked the communities in Waikato and Northland for getting out and getting the vaccine.
"In Northland, there have been 19,691 vaccinations in the last seven days, that's more than double the rate of vaccinations delivered in the previous week," Hipkins said.
"We still don't have confidence that we've got a full enough picture of the situation in Northland."
Hipkins said information was being gathered at a slow pace from the two people who tested positive after visiting Northland.
He urged everyone in Northland with slight symptoms to also get a test.
Hipkins said the government is always looking at ways to tighten the Auckland boundary, "but it isn't possible just to have no movement in and out of Auckland".
"It's just not feasible for us to completely isolate Auckland from the rest of the country," Hipkins said, adding that goods and people needed to be able to move across.
Dr Bloomfield said the testing regime to cross the boundary was helping pick up cases. But he said the Ministry was also looking at whether essential workers who cross the boundary regularly would need to be vaccinated.
Hipkins said in Northland, people may be reluctant to get a test, but "any information obtained through Covid-19 contact tracing or testing will only be used for purposes of stamping out Covid-19. It will not be used for any other purpose".
"We are anxious about the risk that could be associated with people not coming forward to be tested."
Dr Bloomfield said Northland wastewater test results are expected later today.
South Island remains in alert level 2
Christchurch's council-run promotions agency wants to see greater transparency around alert level decisions following the cancellation of another event.
The South Island remains in alert level 2 which limits large gatherings, despite the lack of a Covid-19 case for over 300 days.
The South Island Moon Festival, previously known as the Lantern Festival, is the latest event to be canned due to Covid, following on from the Canterbury A and P Show and what was going to be the city's first hosting of a Sail GP race.
Christchurch NZ head Jo Norris says more information around alert level changes would give increased confidence to businesses and events.