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New Zealand will stay in lockdown until 11.59pm on Tuesday - and Auckland will likely remain at level-4 for a fortnight after that, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.
The Government is taking a cautious approach and will extend the nationwide lockdown - due to expire at 11.59pm tonight - for another four days.
The additional time gives health experts a full 14-day cycle of data and information since the country went into lockdown on Tuesday night last week.
All going to plan, all of the country - except Auckland and Northland - would then drop to level 3 at 11.59pm next Tuesday, August 31.
Auckland will likely be at level-four for another two weeks after that, Ardern said.
Friday saw a new record number of daily cases declared, with 70 recorded on Friday, bringing the total number of cases in this outbreak to 347. Nineteen people are in hospital in Auckland.
The decision to keep Northland in level four has been made, partly due to a positive case in Warkworth, Ardern said.
When Auckland settings are confirmed on Monday, an update for Northland will be provided.
Ardern, who announced the alert level plans with Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield, said caution is still required as we reach the peak of case numbers.
Case numbers could be expected to increase as more household contacts were infected, she said.
"I'm also told that compliance [with lockdown rules] is really high...the question now is how long everyone stays [in lockdown]," she said.
The three reasons keeping the rest of the country in level four for a few more days are because it will provide a full two-week cycle, there are cases in Wellington and the positive wastewater result in Christchurch.
More refined wastewater tests are underway.
No regional travel is allowed through level four regions, except those who need to travel for work or someone with an exemption.
Police will enforce boundaries and check on exemptions when south of Auckland moves to level 3. The same boundary used in February will be used again.
MBIE will be open for applications from Sunday for people who need exemptions to cross boundaries for work.
What level 3 means
Level three allows us to give businesses and others more freedoms but contact with others needs to remain limited, she said.
"We want you to limit contact as much as possible," Ardern said.
She said takeaways can only be operated through contactless methods.
"We want you to limit contact as much as possible."
Public venues remain closed. Groups of 10 for weddings, funerals and tangi are allowed.
Masks are still mandatory on all public transport and it is encouraged to wear one in public spaces as you can.
PM says lockdown is working
"What I would say to Auckland and all of New Zealand is what you are doing is working", Ardern said.
"Already we are seeing those signs of what a difference lockdown is working."
Bloomfield said we won't necessarily need to see zero cases in order to consider moving Auckland down a level.
"We feel like we need to give as much clarity around our thinking as we can," Ardern said, but she noted more information around alert levels would be provided on Monday.
More MIQ space
Ardern said there are 274 rooms designated for quarantine across the country.
She said family members are giving each other Covid when they are asymptomatic.
Extra MIQ facilities have needed to be brought on for contacts of Covid cases in Auckland.
Bloomfield said it didn't present any further risk for people to be isolating from home.
However, he said bigger families were prioritised to be moved to other facilities as it was harder for them to isolate in the same house.
Positive worker at Warkworth rest home
Asked about the rest home positive case in Warkworth, Ardern said the worker was fully vaccinated and those facilities were prioritised for testing.
The staff member at the Amberlea Home and Hospital Care Facility in Warkworth worked two shifts while infectious in the facility's dementia ward.
However, that staff member is fully vaccinated and adhered to strict Infection, Prevention and Control protocol, including wearing face coverings and other PPE.
Bloomfield said the relevant DHB went into the rest home three times to conduct vaccinations.
She said this case was the reason that workforce was prioristised for the jab.
Bloomfield said there were mechanisms, including primary care, through which new rest home residents were quickly vaccinated.
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