Govt still taking an aggressive approach to Covid outbreak - PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government is still taking an aggressive approach to the Covid outbreak, in light of Monday's roadmap announcement which saw Level 3 remain but some restrictions loosen for Auckland

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

On the feedback that Monday's plan was confusing, Ardern said what they had set out, and what she thought people were looking for, was - 'what's next'?

"We've presented the 'what next', but ultimately the very important piece of information for Aucklanders is that they are still at Alert Level 3.

"There are three changes within that, but we will not be moving beyond that until we continue to access both the outbreak and vaccination rates.

"We're not asking anyone to do anything different from those things," she said, referring to phase one. They remain at Alert Level 3 because we are still working very hard to control that outbreak and vaccinate people."

The Government received criticism for Monday's roadmap announcement, including from microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles , who said she was gutted. 

"Partly because I thought this would be a step we'd be taking some time next year when we had vaccines available for all of our children and better treatment," Wiles said. 

Ardern said they would rely on public advice "on every single decision we make", including any possible move to Level 2. 

"What we acknowledged... after seven weeks of some of the toughest restrictions that are applied globally, we haven't been able to get to zero at this point. 

"My job is to set out what that means."

She said New Zealand would continue to take a very "aggressive" approach to Covid, and would take into account the role vaccines could play. 

"There always have been competing desires from everyone - those who are in the middle of restrictions, those who live outside of them. The job we have is the same, and it is to keep people safe. 

"Yes, we've made some small changes... but they are deemed by our public health experts, the ones we've relied on all along, to be the lowest risk options to continue to support and sustain Aucklanders as they continue with what are some of the restrictions in the world."

The plan saw criticism from all sides of the House

ACT's David Seymour sung a lyric of a Talking Heads song to 1News, adding in the word 'map' to 'Road to Nowhere'.

"Sadly, the truth," he said after. 

National's Judith Collins said Monday's move "pleased effectively nobody except those who may want to have a picnic on the beach". 

"I was staggered to find out that it's now fine to go hunting in Auckland, given there's not many places that you could go hunting in Auckland and in the meantime we've got businesses, hospitality, physiotherapy businesses unable to operate and going broke."

There was also confusion on the phase one rules. 

Earlier today, the Covid website said camping overnight was permitted under phase one of Auckland's roadmap in Level 3. Jacinda Ardern was asked about overnight stays during today's Covid briefing and said it was currently not allowed. Shortly after the press conference, overnight camping was removed as a permitted activity from the Covid-19 website. 

Yesterday, 1News was told the use of playgrounds was permitted under phase one. This was questioned today by Auckland Council, who had not received any clarification around changes to playground rules as of almost midday, and said as far as they were aware, playgrounds remained closed.

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet then told 1News that playgrounds are able to open in Auckland under the Step 1 guidelines and Auckland Council were informed later that afternoon.