Rest of NZ likely to stay at L2 while Auckland at high levels

The rest of New Zealand will likely remain at Alert Level 2 for as long as Auckland is at Level 3 or 4, the Prime Minister signalled today. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

However, changes to Alert Level 2 could see an increase to indoor gathering numbers, should Auckland move to Alert Level 3. 

Cabinet is meeting Monday, September 20 to discuss Alert Levels of Auckland and the rest of the country. 

"We all know Delta is more dangerous and difficult and because of that we have adapted our response," Jacinda Ardern said today. 

Alert Level 2 has extra restrictions in light of Delta, with new rules around masks and people limits - but Alert Level 1 will remain the same. 

"We don't believe it needs to change, even with Delta," Ardern said. 

An Alert Level 1 environment would only be considered with there being no risk of Covid community transmission - "when it's outside our border walls, not in it". 

"That means so long as Auckland is at higher Alert Levels of 3 or 4, we believe we will need a greater level of preparedness in the rest of the country."

She said should Auckland move to Level 3, Cabinet would also consider an increase to indoor gathering numbers at Level 2, as it currently sits at 50 for places such as hospitality outlets.  

"We anticipate this will be lifted to 100 people. 

"As Auckland moves down, the rest of New Zealand can ease a little too whilst remaining on high alert."

It was announced on Monday that Auckland would stay at Level 4 for an additional week, with an in-principle decision the city would move down to Level 3 at 11.59pm Tuesday, September 21.

The rest of New Zealand will stay at Level 2 until the same date. Cabinet would meet to review the settings next Monday, September 20. 

Auckland has been in full lockdown for 29 days. The rest of New Zealand has been in 'Delta' Level 2 since September 8, after about a week in Level 3. 

There were 13 new community cases today.