11 Oct 2021

Alert levels remain unchanged, NZ at one of 'most challenging moments' in pandemic

11:20 pm on 11 October 2021

Auckland will remain in alert level 3, step 1, for at least one more week while Waikato and Northland will stay in level 3 until 11.59pm on Thursday.

Watch the media briefing here:

Auckland will remain in alert level 3, as restrictions stand, for at least one more week.

Waikato and Northland will stay in alert level 3 until 11.59pm on Thursday 14 October.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Waikato shows that the tried and true method of stamping out the virus is working.

"One final point on the Waikato," Ardern says, "thank you for getting vaccinated. We've seen the largest increase in vaccinations of any region in New Zealand last week".

"New Zealand is at one of the trickiest and most challenging moments in the Covid-19 pandemic so far," Ardern says.

"However, there is a clear path forward in the coming months in which New Zealanders should be able to move to living with fewer restrictions and more freedoms as a result of higher levels of vaccination."

We've now surpassed the United States, Australia and Germany on first doses, Ardern says.

"But we are not there yet and. over the next few weeks, while we lift those levels of vaccination for everyone, we need to maintain restrictions to stop the virus spreading both in Auckland and to other parts of the country."

The government will be doing two things this week to drive vaccination rates up.

"The first is Super Saturday where, across the country, we'll be pulling out the stops to increase vaccination rates. It is also an opportunity to get your second vaccine if you're three weeks since your first.

"Getting fully vaccinated as soon as possible means we can be in a stronger position to ease restrictions."

The second thing they are doing to strengthen their response is to make vaccination mandatory for large numbers of the health and education workforces.

"The reason we are stepping up our vaccination requirements is because Delta is a different and more difficult opponent. We have seen all around the world that is the case," Ardern says.

"No one yet has eliminated a Delta outbreak."

Ardern says restrictions are extremely important in controlling the virus while we get the population vaccinated.

"These measures, when followed, make all the difference."

She says the r-value has crept up meaning that cases are likely to grow in the coming days.

"If followed, our alert level restrictions can help control that spread."

Ardern says people want more certainty than the government can provide at the moment.

"Our goal remains the same, even if the approach to achieving it changes. We have a pathway forward, we remain in a very strong position to make the transition from lockdown restrictions to the individual armour of vaccines while maintaining our world leading position on case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths as well as delivering a strong economy and low unemployment."

Covid-19 Reponse Minister Chris Hipkins says they're expecting a busy week ahead for vaccinations

"Vaccination remains our strongest and most effective to protect against infection and disease and we need as many people as possible to be vaccinated to allow all of our sectors to respond to the pandemic whilst continuing to deliver everyday services with as little disruption as possible."

He says making vaccination mandatory for some workers wasn't an easy decision, "but we need to have the people who work with vulnerable communities, who haven't been vaccinated, to now take this extra step".

Auckland schools to remain closed

Ardern says the advice about schools being able to reopen for term 4 was initial advice which has now changed. "Today, the public health team have advised us that the state of the outbreak in Auckland has highlighted the need for robust safety measures to be in place before schools reopen."

School and early learning staff and support people who have contact with children and students will need to be fully vaccinated by 1 January, 2022.

If parents are involved in their child's school any more than "pick ups and drop offs" they will also need to be fully vaccinated, the prime minister says.

Masks are required at secondary schools around the country.


Ardern says they're relying on high community rates of testing to give them confidence there isn't any Covid-19 in the area.

"This is an incredibly frustrating situation, the likes of which we've seen very rarely in our Covid response before. Given how extraordinary it is, I have asked Health to consider all of the options available to them as they and the police work with the individuals involved.

"The two most important things Northlanders can do in the meantime is to please get tested and also get vaccinated. We need the confidence provided by testing to reduce restrictions," she says.

Bloomfield says police are confident that the woman they cannot locate in Northland is not travelling around at the moment.

Ardern says if the person is watching, "the absolute easiest option for you right now is to come forward, allow a test to be undertaken so that we can ensure that we are protecting those that have been around you and that may include your family and friends. That is by far the simplest path forward from here."

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