20 Apr 2020

Covid-19 alert level 3: What you need to know

6:29 pm on 20 April 2020

The national alert level 4 response to the Covid-19 coronavirus began at 11.59pm Wednesday, 25 March and is due to end at 11.59pm on Monday, 27 April.

Police check motorists going on motorway in Auckland the day before the Easter long weekend begins.

Travel restrictions will become regional but not local when the country moves to alert level 3, but police will act against those breaking the rules. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today the level four lockdown would continue for a further five days beyond when it was originally expected to end.

After that however, New Zealand will enter level 3 for at least two weeks.

The alert level 3 response to the pandemic will mean lockdown restrictions being eased, but as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern emphasised this would still involve significant curtailment of normal activities for New Zealanders.

The basic principle of alert level 3 will again be to restrict contact with others, requiring people to remain at home in their bubble as much as possible.

Public health remains paramount but the new arrangement would allow certain activities, lessening financial hardships and positioning the economy for recovery.

Health officials have emphasised that level 3 will demand continued personal accountability and vigilance as testing, contact tracing and strict border control measures attempt to stamp out the virus in New Zealand.

Work and business

Some people can return to work and businesses can reopen, if safe.

People must work from home if they can, but where that is not possible businesses may re-open if they comply with health and safety requirements for physical distancing and contactless engagement with customers.

Distancing rules apply, but for some businesses 1m distancing is considered adequate.

Businesses accessed by the public such as retail, hardware stores and restaurants can open but only for online or phone purchases and contactless delivery or click and collect.

Businesses only accessed by staff and without a customer-facing function - such as building and construction or forestry - can open under strict health, safety and physical distancing rules.

Builders and tradespeople can attend homes to carry out work under these rules.

Expanded bubbles

Maintaining existing household bubbles is requested but some expansion is permissible.

For example, if you need a caregiver, if your children are in shared care, if a de facto partner is caring for others, or you're a single person who wants the company of a sibling, you can extend your bubble.

However, people should exercise prudence and caution when expanding their bubble to include people over 70 under alert level 3, as they are at risk of being severely affected by the virus.

Good hygiene and physical distancing will be even more important during level 3 as bubbles expand.


The public will be able to swim, surf and fish from the shore.

However, boating and jet-skiing remain off limits.

Gyms remain closed during level 3.

Partial reopening of education

Early childhood centres and schools will be available up to Year 10 only, but attendance is purely voluntary.

Those who need to attend school can start on 29 April, with a teacher-only day on 28 April to prepare.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asked parents to keep their children learning from home if they could. For children who are able, distance learning is still recommended as the best option.

Tertiary education will mostly be through distance learning. These arrangements remain open to review by the government.

Public playgrounds remain closed.


Travel restrictions remain but move from local to regional. You cannot travel to another region for recreation or work unless you are an essential worker.

Funerals and weddings

Mass gatherings remain banned.

Funerals (including tangi) and weddings will be able to go ahead, but limited to services only, with a maximum of 10 people.

No meals, food or receptions can take place.

The social distancing 2m rule still applies.

Contingent situation

Level 3 will be a period of consolidating gains made containing the spread of Covid-19 during level 4 restrictions.

The discovery of new clusters or a significant rise in detection of community transmissions will likely see New Zealand's national response swiftly revert back to full level-4 lockdown.

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