Level 1 hopes dashed; level 2 restrictions could ease

If Auckland does move down an alert level next week, the rest of the country will also see some easing of the alert level 2 rules, according to the prime minister.

Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield have given an update on Covid-19 case numbers and the response.

There were 13 new community cases reported today.

Ardern addressed the current alert level system and said as long as Auckland was at alert level 3 or 4, the rest of the country should stay at alert level 2.

She said Cabinet had considered the settings at level 1, and had decided that alert level 1 would remain the same.

"At this level, we remain prepared," she said. "We don't have Covid in the community, and we have pretty ordinary lives."

But alert level 1 has always been for an environment where there has been no risk of community transmission.

"That means so long as Auckland as in the higher alert levels of 3 or 4, we will need a greater level of preparedness in the rest of the country."

Earlier in this outbreak, Cabinet changed the alert level 2 settings because of the Delta variant.

But if Auckland moved to level 3 next week, Cabinet would consider raising the amount of people allowed at gatherings in level 2 to 100 people, she said.

"Our alert level system served us very well over the last year and a-half, but as vaccines become more and more a part of our toolkit, we need to integrate them into our system."

The first vaccination buses are beginning their work this afternoon, while Auckland businesses have been raising concerns about what defines "essential" work as level 3 grows, hopefully, nearer for the city.

Ardern said the country had hit another milestone today in its vaccination programme, with 3 million first doses now delivered nation-wide.

"Thanks to all those who have been vaccinated so far. But we have the capacity to do even more and even faster."

She said the country had the ability to hit 80 percent vaccinated in Auckland this week.

"It's the most important thing you can do to help us as we work together to get out of lockdowns."

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