6 Sep 2021

New Zealand, except Auckland, to move to alert level 2 at 11.59pm Tuesday

6:23 pm on 6 September 2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced New Zealand, outside of Auckland, will move to alert level 2 from 11.59pm Tuesday 7 September. Meanwhile, Delta alert level 2 looks different and settings have been changed.

Watch the announcement:

Auckland will stay into level 4 until 11.59pm next Tuesday, 14 September.

Schools will be given 48 hours to reopen from Thursday morning.

"These changes mean that we will have one part of the country level 4, and one part at Level 2," Ardern says, which creates challenges, especially for Northland, cut off from the rest of Level 2.

Essential workers crossing the border will be required to have weekly tests

Bloomfield says essential workers crossing alert level boundaries will be required to undergo weekly testing.

Those people will be expected to have had a test in the last seven days and must show proof of it, he says.

Three thousand people are crossing the border between Auckland and the rest of the country each day.

People who transit between Auckland will need to come through without stopping if they're moving from south of Auckland to Northland.

During the Level 2/4 transition, the message to travellers is "Don't stop in Auckland," Ardern says.

Face coverings mandatory under 'Delta 2' level

Face coverings are now mandatory at level 2 in most public venues, Ardern says.

You can take your mask off in venues like restaurants and cafes, she says.

Staff at public facing businesses in level 2 must wear face coverings.

"To keep it really simple, if you're out at about at indoor venues, please wear a mask," Ardern says.

Masks are "our new normal" at level 2, she says.

Ardern says that masks are not being mandated in schools, and Bloomfield says it is "recommended, but not required".

We want people scanning everywhere they go, Ardern says. It will now be mandatory at bars, restaurants, cinemas, churches, close contact venues like hairdressers. Customers must scan or have record keeping.

"Even in places you are not legally required to scan in, my advice is to do it anyway."

The decisions around masks and scanning were made before the current Delta outbreak, Ardern says, and implemented once it happened.

'Delta 2' level

Additional changes have been made to gathering limits in level 2.

Indoor hospitality venues will have a limit of 50, outdoor venues will have a limit of 100 people.

Second, indoor public facilities like gyms which did not previously have limits on people inside and required one-metre distancing, will require two meter distancing.

"Wear a mask. Scan everywhere you go," Ardern says. "Be patient, be kind, and support local, these are tough times."

"We've done so well to get this outbreak under control. We're in sight of elimination but we cannot drop the ball."

Ardern says that she doesn't want the country to stay in a "Delta 2" for a prolonged period of time.

"We are asking people to be Delta aware."

Asked about the difficulty of enforcing a level 4/ level 2 split, Ardern says that frequent testing will help.

"The most important thing for New Zealand is that anybody can be vaccinated is vaccinated," Ardern says.

Middlemore patient testing positive

Ardern was asked about the patient at Middlemore Hospital who tested positive for Covid-19.

Dr Bloomfield says the link hasn't been found yet but interviews are underway. "I'm confident there will be a link there."

He says the Middlemore patient presented with symptoms that were not typical Covid-19 symptoms, and were admitted to hospital for the symptoms they had.

The patient then had a Covid-19 test the next morning and was isolated when it came back positive.

The patient should "ideally" have been isolated when hospital staff thought they could be infected with Covid-19, Bloomfield says.

He says the hospital will review its procedures.

The person had abdominal pains, Ardern adds, and said that health teams will look at expanding symptoms they ask about in screening in the future.

Only five of the 20 new cases reported today were infectious while in the community, and all new cases were in Auckland.

Asked how long she thinks it might be until the country returns to level 1, Ardern says "it will literally come down to the public health advice we have."

"It all comes down to Auckland," Bloomfield adds.

Asked what kind of improvement she'd like to see to move further down alert levels, Ardern says for Auckland, "we want to see a good case of containment, and that's what we continue to look for".

It's important that none of the cases are "mystery cases," Bloomfield says.

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