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New Zealand moves up Alert Levels after Covid-19 community transmission confirmed

Auckland has moved into Covid-19 Alert Level 3 and the rest of New Zealand moved into Alert Level 2 from midday today.

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That means all schools, non-essential services and businesses in the region will be closed. Source: Breakfast

Late last night, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced there are four new cases of community transmission in New Zealand following 102 days without.

As a result Auckland will be returning to Alert Level 3 lockdown as of noon today for three days until midnight Friday. The rest of New Zealand will move to Alert Level 2 for the same period of time.

What we know so far: 

- On Tuesday four new cases of Covid-19 through community transmission were announced in New Zealand, all were from the same household in Auckland
- Contact tracing has begun but there is not yet an "immediate link" to overseas travel or a managed isolation facility
- Aucklanders are asked to stay home to stop potential spread of Covid-19
- Auckland will go into Alert Level 3 at noon. The rest of New Zealand will go into Alert Level 2 at noon
- Covid-19 testing centres are being boosted in Auckland. Here's where to go to get tested

This live articles update is now finished. The latest updates can be found online here.

12.15pm: Dozens of people are already queuing to be tested at a pop-up facility in Rotorua, after it was revealed two of the confirmed Covid-19 cases had been there over the weekend.

They had visited some family and tourist attractions before testing positive.

1 NEWS reporter Sam Kelway says there's a "good stream of people" waiting to be tested, to rule out further spread. He estimates around 50 to 60 people are waiting at the moment.

12.00pm: Auckland is now official in Alert Level 3, and the rest of New Zealand has entered Level 2 restrictions. Here's a recap of what you need to know.

11.58am: People with severe respiratory conditions in Auckland are warned to stay home and self-isolate as the city enters Alert Level 3.

Letitia Harding, chief executive of the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation, says people should check in with their GP to see whether their condition is moderate or severe, and if they fall into a high-risk category. 

Around the rest of the country, she suggests people with respiratory conditions should take care, maintain social distancing and wear a face mask when out and about.

11.52am: A Mt Albert Primary student who lives with the confirmed cases went to a recent open day at Kowhai Intermediate, where students from other schools were present.

The student has tested negative in the first Covid-19 test so far.

According to the principal of Mt Eden Normal Primary School, the students at the open day aren't being considered possible contacts at this stage.

The letter, seen by 1 NEWS, was sent to "help ensure rumors don't overtake the facts", the principal wrote.

11.44am: Around 100,000 people downloaded the official Covid-19 Tracer app last night, Dr Bloomfield says. Before yesterday's announcement, it had around 648,000 registered users.

Dr Bloomfield says they're working on ways to require businesses to create and display QR codes.

He was interrupted by Ms Ardern, who says more details will be confirmed at the 4pm press conference after they've had a chance to speak to some representatives of those who'd be impacted.

11.38am: Police will be setting up nine checkpoints around Auckland to stop people from coming into or leaving the city during the lockdown.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says it's similar to the checkpoints they ran during the long weekends when the country was at Level 3.

"We will be stopping vehicles and questioning drivers, but as has been our approach through the Covid-19 response, our first focus will be on educating people and ensuring they are aware of the new restrictions."

11.30am: Ms Ardern clarifies one adult and one child who tested positive for Covid-19 had been in Rotorua last weekend for a trip.

11.19am: Ms Ardern has fired back at claims the Government knew of the cases earlier than they said, saying: "There is no reason why we would ever do that."

"And I hope that you'll hear from the timeline we set out, that we've moved very quickly, including informing the public. I do worry that those kind of theories do nothing to support what needs to be collective action from all of us."

11.05am: The dissolution of Parliament is being pushed back to at least Monday. A decision hasn't been made on whether the election will be delayed.

11.04am: More than 5 million face masks are being released from the Government's central supply as the Prime Minister recommends all Aucklanders wear a mask if they're leaving their homes.

It's not yet mandatory, but Ms Ardern says it's something they're strongly recommending. People in other parts of the country are recommended to wear masks if they're unable to social distance, such as being on public transport.

She stressed that supermarkets still have a solid supply of face masks available for sale.

11.02am: Healthline has been swamped with calls since yesterday, with more than 2000 calls since last night's announcement.

Ms Ardern asks anyone with general questions look at the covid19.govt.nz website first, to see if they can find their answer there before calling.

Staffing is being ramped up to try and cope with the demand.

10:57am: Dr Bloomfield says there's capacity to test more than 12,000 people a day, but Ms Ardern says they need to make sure they're testing the right people.

She says they don't want to test everyone across Auckland who has no symptoms and no connection to the border or managed isolation facilities.

"That runs the risk of creating longer queues, more tests to process, without us being able to hone in on those we need to test the most."

If Healthline or a medical staff member recommends a test, then get tested, Ms Ardern says.

10.50am: None of the workplaces with risk are public-facing, Dr Bloomfield says.

There are 130 close contacts from the central Auckland workplace, a finance company, which has been shut down. 

At the other workplace, in South Auckland but with four sites around the Auckland, there are 160 close contacts. Three are symptomatic and already being tested.

Work is underway to test all the close contacts, Dr Bloomfield says.

10.47am: Dr Bloomfield says the family are still in "strict isolation" at home but are considering going into the quarantine facility in Auckland.

One of the cases, a woman in her 20s, travelled to Rotorua last Saturday while symptomatic. 

10.46am: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield are addressing media - watch live with 1 NEWS on TVNZ1, on 1NEWS.co.nz, or on the 1 NEWS Facebook page.

10.44am: Police are asking people to avoid unnecessary travel around the testing stations at Northcote and Henderson, due to significant congestion. 

People impacted by the congestion are asked to be patient.

10.35am: The Prime Minister is running slightly late for the press conference but in the meantime...

McDonald's has cancelled its free chicken nuggets promotion this morning. It had planned to give away 1 million nuggets across the country as part of a promotional deal.

It's cancelled the promo due to the Covid-19 restrictions, apologising to "nuggie fans" in a message.

10.25am: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield are about to address media - watch live with 1 NEWS on TVNZ1, on 1NEWS.co.nz, or on the 1 NEWS Facebook page.

10.17am: All rest homes have been advised to move into a full three-day lockdown until midnight on Friday, the Aged Care Association confirmed to 1 NEWS.

"That means no visits and no staff moving between facilities."

10.06am: Ryman, NZ's largest retirement village operator, is closed to all visitors, except for those seeing people in palliative or end of life care. They must wear PPE. 

9.59am More on what's happening at the Beehive: 1NEWS understands the dissolution of Parliament has been delayed following the latest COVID-19 outbreak. New Zealand’s 52nd Parliament was due to be dissolved this morning but there’s been calls to delay that. The dissolution brings a Parliamentary term to an end and marks the first step towards holding the general election. The 2020 election is scheduled for September 19.

9.43am: 1 NEWS understands the dissolution of Parliament has been delayed.

New Zealand’s 52nd Parliament was due to be dissolved this morning

9.46am: There are reports of long queues at testing stations around the Auckland region. One person has spoken of waiting for over two hours at Northcote on the North Shore. 

9.28am: Pakilau Manase Lua, head of the Pacific Island response team, says the Pasifika community in South Auckland is concerned about the cases.

“The community are hugely disappointed in what’s happened, there is widespread concern given that it’s right here in our homes and our area where we live," he told Breakfast.

“We have concern for the family as well involved, they are victims so we ask that we be kind and compassionate to them." 

He's encouraging people to get tested, listen to the official announcements and stay up to date with contact tracing.

9.05am: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield have scheduled a press conference for 10.30am with the latest details on the Covid-19 community transmission cases. A second update is scheduled for 4pm.

Both will be aired live as part of a 1 NEWS special on TVNZ1, and the full press conferences will also be available to stream online at 1NEWS.co.nz and on the 1 NEWS Facebook page.

8.42am: Air New Zealand will be making all passengers on flights leaving Auckland wear masks from today. People can bring their own, otherwise they'll be provided on-board, the airline says.

It's also closing its lounges and valet parking in Auckland from 12pm, when Alert Level 3 takes effect.

Cabin crews and front-of-house staff will be wearing masks and gloves, while pilots will wear masks when interacting with customers or heading through the terminal, Air NZ says.

Passengers on other flights are recommended to wear masks but it's not mandatory, according to Air NZ.

8.28am: Aucklanders, get ready to mask up: Health Minister Chris Hipkins says they're working on making face masks mandatory in the city.

It's currently highly recommended for Aucklanders to wear face masks when out in public, but it's not yet a rule.

If you're looking at making your own reusable mask, the Ministry of Health recommends following the World Health Organization guidelines - a three-layer fabric mask with a cotton interior, filter pocket and hydrophobic exterior like polyester.

Read More
Masks likely to become compulsory for Aucklanders - Health Minister

8.22am: People are turning out in force to get tested at the community facilities, according to the boss of Breakfast.

Executive producer Jono Williams appeared on the show this morning from his car, where he was waiting in a queue to get a Covid-19 test after developing a cough and sore throat when returning from Queenstown.

After more than an hour in the queue, he reckons he's still at least 30 or 40 cars away "from getting anywhere near" the testing facility.

To try and curb the demand, staff at the testing facility have been turning away people without symptoms, Williams says.

Anyone concerned is urged to call Healthline and get tested, but Healthline is also swamped with demand, with wait times of more than an hour.

8.04am: ACT leader David Seymour says he wrote to Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard last night, asking for the dissolution of Parliament to be delayed.

In a letter he shared on Twitter this morning, Mr Seymour wrote that he "strongly urges" the planned dissolution today to be postponed until at least next Wednesday.

"It is possible that the election will now need to be delayed. If that is the case, I believe the people would want to have Parliament available for an epidemic response committee or perhaps sittings," he wrote.

7.59am: Parliament is set to officially dissolve at 11am today ahead of the election, but it's up to the Prime Minister and Governor General as to whether that's delayed.

If it's delayed, it'll mean the Government can pass laws with the proper Parliamentary scrutiny, 1 NEWS political editor Jessica Mutch McKay says.

Without it, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would be reliant on the Civil Defence Act.

Delaying the dissolution of Parliament would also mean Ms Ardern could delay the election if she deems it necessary. After Parliament is dissolved, it would be up to the Electoral Commission to shift the election date.

The last possible date for the election would be November 21. It's currently set down for September 19, with special voting starting on September 3.

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The four cases are the first community transmission here in 102 days. Source: 1 NEWS

7.50am: The 50-year-old father who tested positive for Covid-19 works at a business with three sites across Auckland, with links to the airport.

Three of his colleagues are also symptomatic and awaiting their Covid-19 test results, 1 NEWS Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver says.

Four members of the family of six have tested positive for Covid-19.

7.42am: Moving Auckland to Alert Level 3 was the right thing to do, but is expected to have a "devastating" impact on businesses, National leader Judith Collins says.

Speaking to Breakfast, she said she's concerned the Government has "no idea" where the new case came from.

"It doesn't just manifest after 100 days of no community transmission, it has to have come from somewhere," she says.

Ms Collins called the shift to Level 3 "the right thing to do", but calls it a "very devastating time for people in business and their employees".

A decision whether to move Auckland to Level 4 or 2 is expected to be made on Friday, according to Ms Collins. See the full Breakfast interview with the National leader here.

7.31am: Breakfast's hosts are encouraging people to stay calm, be careful, and think about what they're saying around other people, especially children.

Jenny-May Clarkson says people should consider the type of language they're using around the home if they have children, regardless of their age.

"It may be affecting us in different ways but they're around, they can hear it, and they can feel it," she says.

"So just think about those little people when you're having those conversations around your home."

Hayley Holt added: "This is serious and the quicker we get on top of it, the quicker we can go back to having our normal life here in our New Zealand bubble."

7.20am: People who were meant to be flying domestically on Air New Zealand within the week will be able to hold their fare in credit.

For flights scheduled to depart before 11.59pm on Sunday, people can change their flight or trade it for credit online.

Air New Zealand says for people who can't change their booking online and don't want to travel on their planned flight, they don't need to get in touch immediately.

"We can assist you at a later date to find an alternative flight option, or provide you with a credit note."

7.15am: Community testing facilities have been boosted across Auckland, expected to face high demand today.

An hour before it's due to open, a line of cars are already waiting at the testing centre at Whanāu Ora Community Clinic, in Wiri.

Two pop-up centres will open from 9am in the Ōtara Town Centre carpark, and at Health New Lynn.

Other testing facilities are available at 16-18 College Rd, Northcote; 112 New North Rd, Eden Terrace; Whānau House, Henderson; and Whānau Ora Community Clinic, Wiri.

Find out more information here.

7.04am: The family who have tested positive are a Pasifika family based in South Auckland, 1 NEWS's Barbara Dreaver says, with connections across the city.

The father, a man in his 50s, works the night shift at a facility in South Auckland; three of his colleagues are currently awaiting their Covid-19 test results.

His wife works in a central Auckland suburb and was tested for Covid-19 at a GP in West Auckland, which has closed its doors.

Their daughter goes to a primary school in Mt Albert.

6.50am: Health Minister Chris Hipkins says the new cases are a "puzzle" and they're working hard to figure out how the family contracted Covid-19.

Four family members in one household have tested positive. The other two tested negative, Mr Hipkins told Breakfast this morning. 

"It''s not obvious where [the first case] may have picked this case up from."

He's urging people to stay calm, get tested if they're offered a test, and if they have any information, come forward.

"A culture of blame and fear is not what we're encouraging at the moment," he says. Watch the full interview with Mr Hipkins here.

Queues of people gathered at Countdown Greenlane in Auckland at around 6am, after Level 3 was announced. Source: 1 NEWS

6.36am: A long queue of shoppers have already gathered at supermarkets this morning.

At Countdown Greenlane, people have been gathered for more than an hour, beating the sunrise to get their goods.

The message is clear from authorities: supermarkets will stay open, supply chains are robust, and there are no fears of a shortage.

6.31am: Jury trials around the country are suspended today as the courts prepare for life at Levels 2 and 3 again.

All jury trials in progress in Auckland are being pushed back to Monday, the Chief Justice confirmed.

Jury trials in the rest of the country are suspended for 24 hours while the courts re-establish their public safety measures for Level 2.

Jurors will be contacted today to let them know the plan, Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann says.

6.27am: Despite pleas from Jacinda Ardern for people to shop normally, there was a massive rush on supermarkets in Auckland last night.

Shoppers told 1 NEWS they were looking for essentials, including meat and toilet paper.

Under Level 3 restrictions, supermarkets will remain open with social distancing requirements.

Takeaway stores are allowed to stay open for delivery and distanced pick-up.

6.14am: All schools and early childhood centres in Auckland are now closed for the rest of the week, while Auckland University has also shut its doors.

Parents who are essential workers are exempt and still allowed to drop their children at schools or ECEs.

Auckland University says the university is closed, but people who need to pick up equipment can do so before midday.

At Mt Albert Primary, staff and parents have been sent an email from authorities telling them a child at the school lives in a household with people who have tested positive for Covid-19.

The child has been tested but it's not clear whether their test result has returned yet, or whether it was positive or negative.

An investigation is underway to determine the potential exposure to staff and students.