Team effort needed to ensure Christmas gatherings - Ardern

Source: 1News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has warned that a collective effort will be required for restrictions to be eased in time for families to gather for Christmas and enjoy their summer.

Ardern said Auckland was on target to hit the 90 per cent double vaccination threshold before the holiday period that is expected to allow residents to join up with their families for Christmas.

She said restrictions will be eased when the threshold is met in the city, even if daily cases continue to rise.

"We cannot have a situation where we have high vaccination rates across areas and suburbs and don't ease restrictions," she said at Monday's post-Cabinet address.

"We need to move in a way that is careful and considered."

Christmas tree on beach (file picture).

However, while Auckland is on track to have restrictions eased by Christmas, other DHBs may not be near the 90 per cent target, which Ardern said could complicate things.

"What will give us greater certainty will be all of us driving in the same way Auckland has towards high vaccination rates. At the moment they [Auckland] could be in the position of having greater certainty than some other parts of the country, so if I could implore that this matters for everyone, not just Auckland," Ardern said.

The prime minister also remained coy on when exactly New Zealand could move to the traffic light system.

At present, major population centres such as Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin are on track to reach the 90 per cent double vaccinated target in December.

However, small DHBs such as Tairāwhiti and Northland are not expected to reach the threshold until at least mid-January.

When asked if the majority of the country would be forced to wait for those smaller DHBs to reach the target, Ardern said it would be up to the rest of the country to lend a helping hand.

"It's incumbent on all of us to not just leave that vaccination job up to individual DHBs but to come in with as much support as we can," Ardern said.

In the meantime, Auckland will move to step two of Alert Level 3 at 11.59pm next Tuesday, November 9. This will allow retail to open and public facilities such as libraries, museums, pools and zoos to also open their doors. Outdoor gathering numbers are also increased to a maximum of 25 people.

Parts of the Waikato under level 3 will move to step two at 11.59pm on Tuesday, November 2.