Ashley Bloomfield and PM give update on lockdown, Covid-19 cases

One of the new Covid cases travelled to Rotorua while she showed virus symptoms.

The Ministry of Health is working to establish where they visited in Rotorua. People in Rotorua will need to be vigilant, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said.

If there is another case in Rotorua a nationwide response will be necessary. The woman, in her 20s, travelled out of Auckland last weekend.

None of the people who tested positive the community needed hospital-level care, Bloomfield said.

"I know that the virus remerging in our community has caused alarm and the unknown is scary. That causes anxiety for many of us," Bloomfield said.

The family who is positive is still in isolation at home in south Auckland and a decision hasn't been made about whether they will be moved to a quarantine facility, he said.

"We are working hard to put together the pieces of the puzzle as to how this family got the virus. We are testing all close and casual contacts," he said.

130 colleagues of positive case isolating in Auckland

One hundred and thirty people who work with the man who tested positive in a finance company are considered close contacts.

Three of the husband's contacts are symptomatic and isolating at home.

"None of the workplaces where there is a risk are public-facing," he said.

One hundred and forty people are standing by to support Auckland Regional Public Health with contact tracing. Healthline is very busy and has additional staff on, he said.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to be tested over the coming days.

Bloomfield said the public health department wanted to see if the environment of the workplaces contributed in any way to any spread of the virus.

"The best thing we can all do now is face this together ... to comply with key public health messages ... and we are also recommending the use of masks, particularly in Auckland," he said

We have seen in other countries and jurisdictions where a resurgence occurs that it is incredibly important to act early," Bloomfield said

When to get a test - PM's plea

"If you have any symptoms then do get tested. But, if you have no symptoms and you don't work in [managed isolation facilities] or at the border and you're perfectly healthy then don't," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Extra precautions are needed to look after elderly Kiwis so all aged care facilities will close their doors, she said.

Staff won't work across multiple sites, Ardern said.

"i realise how incredibly difficult this will be for people who have loved ones living in these facilities," Ardern said.

"We are taking a rapid response to break the chain of transmission," Ardern said.

"We have the systems in place to stamp out the virus and stop it spreading."

The fact the family visited Rotorua reinforces why the whole country has moved to alert level 2, Ardern said.

Ardern said it's primarily casual contacts being assessed in Rotorua at this stage.

"In order for us to trace where this outbreak stems from it is really important we increase the number of people being tested, but that doesn't mean we want to test people across Auckland who have no symptoms," Ardern said.

The rules for Aucklanders under alert level 3

Aucklanders should continue to stay in their household bubbles. Only the children of essential workers can go to school. Visitors can't be invited into homes. Physical distancing must be used when out on essential trips like to pharmacies or supermarkets.

Businesses can trade without physical contact with customers, but customers can't enter premises.

Supermarkets, dairies, petrol stations can have customers. Retail is possible through delivery or click and collect

Lockdown for Auckland looms

Aucklanders are scrambling to prepare for the looming level 3 lockdown from midday today, with lengthy queues forming outside supermarkets and Covid-19 testing centres.

Police road blocks will be set up at entrances to the Auckland region - and the Government confirmed this morning it was working with lawyers on a legal notice to make masks mandatory for Aucklanders to wear while out and about in public.

Supermarkets are rationing essential items to avoid stockpiling and Air NZ will require all travellers flying from Auckland to wear masks.

Economists are warning that at least another three days of lockdown will be devastating for businesses: an estimated 28 per cent of Auckland's workforce cannot operate under level three - that's about 250,000 jobs.

Last night Ardern and Bloomfield announced a man in his 50s tested positive for the virus and they couldn't immediately find a connection to the border or managed isolation facilities.

Three others in the man's household have also tested positive. The family are isolating and have been offered a move to a quarantine hotel.

Auckland will move to alert level 3 at midday today until midnight on Friday, while the rest of the country will move to alert level 2 for the same period.

This morning Health Minister Chris Hipkins said the Government would be testing about 50,000 people by the end of the week.

"We will know a lot more in 72 hours than we do now," said Hipkins.

Hipkins told RNZ that the Government was working with lawyers on a notice to make masks mandatory for Aucklanders which will be issued at midday.

He also confirmed work colleagues of one of the family members are also showing symptoms. There are reports at least two colleagues are affected so far.

He said it was a "relatively small" workforce affected.

One of the children in the family attends Mt Albert Primary School - the school is closed for 72 hours and the child has been tested, according to a health notice. Officials are awaiting the test results.

Level 3

Ardern told media at a hastily arranged press conference last night: "We are asking people in Auckland to stay home to prevent the spread.

"We have done it before and we can all do it again."

It comes after four cases of community transmission from the same family were confirmed yesterday - the first such cases in 102 days. The source of infection is unknown.

Level 3 means public facilities, businesses, restaurants and cafes will shut - as will schools unless they have students whose parents are essential workers - and most people will be required to work from home.

The area covered by level 3 is the Super City - from Wellsford in the north to Pukekohe in the south.

For more information visit covid19.govt.nz.

Previous rules for alert levels

Alert Level 4 — Lockdown

Likely that the disease is not contained and community transmission is occurring.

• Range of measures that can be applied locally or nationally

• People instructed to stay at home in their bubble other than for essential personal movement.

• Safe recreational activity is allowed in the local area.

• Travel is severely limited.

• All gatherings cancelled and all public venues closed.

• Businesses closed except for essential services, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics, petrol stations and lifeline utilities.

• Educational facilities closed.

• Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities possible.

• Reprioritisation of healthcare services.

Alert Level 3 — Restrict

Community transmission might be happening.

• Range of measures that can be applied locally or nationally.

• People instructed to stay home in their bubble other than for essential personal movement — including to go to work, school if they have to or for local recreation.

• Physical distancing of 2 metres outside home including on public transport, or 1 metre in controlled environments like schools and workplaces.

• Bubbles must stay within their immediate household bubble but can expand this to reconnect with close family/whānau, or bring in caregivers or support isolated people. This extended bubble should remain exclusive.

• Schools between years 1 to 10 and Early Childhood Education centres can safely open but will have limited capacity. Children should learn at home if possible.

• People must work from home unless that is not possible.

• Businesses can open premises, but cannot physically interact with customers.

• Low-risk local recreation activities are allowed.

• Public venues are closed. This includes libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds, markets.

• Gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed but only for wedding services, funerals and tangihanga. Physical distancing and public health measures must be maintained.

• Healthcare services use virtual, non-contact consultations where possible.

• Inter-regional travel is highly limited to, for example, essential workers, with limited exemptions for others.

• People at high risk of severe illness such as older people and those with existing medical conditions are encouraged to stay at home where possible, and take additional precautions when leaving home. They may choose to work.

Alert Level 2 — Reduce

The disease is contained, but the risk of community transmission remains. Risk assessment. Household transmission could be occurring. Single or isolated cluster outbreaks.

• People can reconnect with friends and family, and socialise in groups of up to 100, go shopping or travel domestically if following public health guidance.

• Keep physical distancing of 2 metres from people you don't know when out in public or in retail stores. Keep 1 metre physical distancing in controlled environments like workplaces, where practical.

• No more than 100 people at gatherings, including weddings, birthdays, funerals and tangihanga.

• Businesses can open to the public if following public health guidance including physical distancing and record keeping. Alternative ways of working are encouraged where possible.

• Hospitality businesses must keep groups of customers separated, seated and served by a single person.

• Maximum of 100 people at a time in a defined space.

• Sport and recreation activities are allowed, subject to conditions on gatherings, record keeping, and physical distancing where practical.

• Public venues such as museums, libraries and pools can open if they comply with public health measures and ensure 1 metre physical distancing and record keeping.

• Event facilities, including cinemas, stadiums, concert venues and casinos can have more than 100 people at a time, provided there are no more than 100 in a defined space, and the groups do not mix.

• Health and disability care services operate as normally as possible.

• It is safe to send your children to schools, early learning services and tertiary education. There will be appropriate measures in place.

• People at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, for example those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled, and older people, are encouraged to take additional precautions when leaving home. They may work if they agree with their employer that they can do so safely.

Alert Level 1 — Prepare

The disease is contained in New Zealand. COVID-19 is uncontrolled overseas.

• Isolated household transmission could be occurring in New Zealand.

• Range of measures that can be applied locally or nationally

• Border entry measures to minimise risk of importing COVID-19 cases.

• Intensive testing for COVID-19.

• Rapid contact tracing of any positive case.

• Self-isolation and quarantine required.

• Schools and workplaces open, and must operate safely.

• No restrictions on personal movement but people are encouraged to maintain a record of where they have been.

• No restrictions on gatherings but organisers encouraged to maintain records to enable contact tracing.

• Stay home if you're sick, report flu-like symptoms.

• Wash and dry your hands, cough into your elbow, don't touch your face.

• No restrictions on domestic transport — avoid public transport or travel if you're sick.

• No restrictions on workplaces or services but they are encouraged to maintain records to enable contact tracing.

 This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.