Alert Levels to be reduced on Sunday

Following a Cabinet meeting today the Prime Minister has announced that at 6am on Sunday Auckland will have its Alert Level changed to Level 2 and the rest of New Zealand will enter Alert Level 1.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the alert-level changes after five days of zero cases of community transmission.

But it came after an eventful day in New Zealand, with three major earthquakes in the Pacific, numerous tsunami warnings that were eventually lifted - and the Cabinet meeting to determine Covid alert levels.

"Bugger it," said Ardern, when asked how she felt dealing with a pandemic and the 7.3 earthquake that struck off New Zealand at 2.27am on Friday.

She had felt the quake and texted Emergency Management Minister Kiri Allan at 2.29am.

"Bugger it, pretty much what everyone else thought at that time, but as the Minister has said we are the Shaky Isles."

Auckland will move to level 2 at 6am Sunday and is likely to remain there for five days, after which Cabinet will review whether to move to level 1 at the start of the following weekend.

There had been no new cases for five days in a row which was "good news", Ardern said.

"It is still not business as usual," the PM added, urging people to keep social distancing.

The restriction of 100 people would still be applied to church services in Auckland at level 2 this Sunday morning, Ardern said.

"An elimination strategy can still feel like hard work... thank you for pushing through," Ardern said.

Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said as the country moved down alert levels, some people would have to stay in isolation.

Bloomfield said under a new Section 70 order, any person who attended City Fitness Hunters Plaza - on February 20 between 11.15am and 1.45pm, or February 26 between 3.25pm and 4.30pm - as well as anyone who is a close, close-plus or casual contacts was required to:
* Isolate at your usual home;
* Report for testing at a specified time;
* Accept testing and isolate until you are told officially that you no longer need to.

Ardern said there were still 10 people for who the Ministry of Health did not have results from the original City Fitness location of interest.

Eight of these people had had a test. Two haven't - but those are from the visit on February 20 - this was before the person with Covid became symptomatic.

Ardern said they were still trying hard to find the two people from the February 20 gym visit.

Bloomfield said he was "confident" people would do what they were asked, despite the powers to comply of a medical officer of health under section 70 notice of the health act.

Ardern said most of the level restriction requirements were "very well understood" by the population.

She did not believe people had intentionally broken isolation restrictions in relation to the latest lockdown.

"The most important principles for our Covid management have been sticking together and not turning on each other," Ardern said.

Bloomfield said the South Auckland community had shown great leadership in the Valentines Day cluster, and those who broke isolation requirements did not do so intentionally.







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