After Cabinet met earlier today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that Auckland will move to alert level 3 at 11.59pm Tuesday 21 September. Auckland will be in Level 3 for at least two weeks. The settings will be reviewed on October 4.
The rest of the country will remain in Level 2 while Auckland is in Level 3, however, gatherings in Level 2 will be amended to be a max of 100 people indoors - some good news for hospitality venues.
We are one month and four days in from when we learnt of the first case in this outbreak.
“Delta meant we couldn't take chances,” Ardern said. “Level 4 was the right move and has worked, but Delta has a long hard tail to it.”
In making the decision, Cabinet looked at the details of recent cases. There haven't been widespread issues at worksites. Cases at worksites have been contacts of existing cases who infected colleagues, and of the cases linked, none have been from people accessing essential services. This means masking, distancing and limiting travel has worked and the next stage of the plan must be to keep bubbles tight.
Level 3 still provides the strict rules needed to keep up that important work. But Ardern warned that Level 3 for Auckland means “caution”.
Bubbles remain, you can't visit friends or neighbours. You shouldn't share food, talk across the fence or have kids playing together. You can make minor and small extensions to your bubble to people isolated, like an elderly relative, but bubbles must remain small and exclusive, Ardern said.
The advice for anyone over 65 is to stay home until you're vaccinated. Ardern said this will give an extra layer of protection. A letter was sent to over 65s in Auckland who they had details for. They're now starting an outbound call campaign to support older New Zealanders to be vaccinated. This will average about 8000 calls a day.
Ardern emphasised that older Kiwis should reach out if they’re feeling alone or isolated, resources can be found here.