This is long – but important | Message from PM Jacinda Ardern

As parts of the country prepare to move down alert levels this week, I want to send a quick reminder of the Alert Level 3 rules to ensure that together, we can stamp out COVID-19 once more.

First though, I want to share a message for everyone in Auckland. As you may have heard, yesterday we confirmed that Auckland will remain at Alert Level 4 until at least Tuesday 14 September, as we continue to clamp down on Delta.

I know this isn’t the news some of you were hoping for, but it’s a step that will save lives. Delta is more infectious than the original virus, and it moves faster. We have to be extra cautious and ensure we do all we can to stop the spread and keep our community safe.

While we know this is the best approach to stopping the virus, we also know that life at Alert Level 4 can be tough, especially as the rest of the country moves to Alert Level 3. Throughout the pandemic, Auckland has done a lot of the heavy lifting, and has worked hard to keep the rest of New Zealand safe. So to those of you in Auckland: from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I know that, like me, the whole team of five million is incredibly grateful for your ongoing hard work.

The extreme weather and flooding that hit parts of Auckland overnight is another challenge for the region, so for those of you affected, please do look after each other and take care. Keep an eye on Auckland Emergency Management’s Facebook for updates, and if you need accommodation or food, you can call the team on 0800 22 22 00.

The rest of the country is now getting ready for Alert Level 3. To recap, Northland will move to Alert Level 3 from 11:59pm on Thursday, provided additional wastewater and contact testing comes back clear, while the rest of New Zealand will make the move from 11:59pm tonight. With this in mind, here’s a quick overview of what we all need to do to keep safe at Alert Level 3.

Alert Level 3 is still high alert – we all need to continue staying home. At Alert Level 3, you should continue to work from home if you can, and children should learn from home. You can leave home to get groceries or pick up items you’ve ordered over the phone or through click and collect, get a COVID test or vaccine, access healthcare or get exercise, but remember to keep it local. It’s a good idea to wear a face covering whenever you leave home – it’s required at places like supermarkets.

We need to stick to our bubbles. If you need to, you can expand your bubble a small amount to bring in close family, isolated people or caregivers, but the key is to keep it exclusive, and as small as possible. You can find further guidance on this here.

More businesses can operate, but most can only do so with contactless delivery or pick up. Employers also have to ensure workers can do their job safely, through measures like physical distancing and face coverings. You can find more information about doing business at Alert Level 3 here.

Keep scanning in. To ensure contact tracing can happen quickly, everyone should keep a record of where they’ve been. If you can, use the COVID Tracer app to do this (and don’t forget to turn on Bluetooth!). If you can’t access the app, you can download a free booklet to help you track your visits here.

You can get vaccinated, but stay home if you’re unwell or waiting for a test result. From tomorrow, everyone aged 12 and over will be able to book their appointment, as our vaccine rollout continues to ramp up. If you’re already eligible and haven’t yet reserved your spot, it’s really easy to book – you can call 0800 28 29 26 or you can book online right now.

That’s a really quick rundown of the golden rules at Alert Level 3, but if you’re still unsure about what’s allowed when the alert level changes, I’d recommend checking out the COVID-19 website. You can find comprehensive guidance on what Alert Level 3 means for you, your whānau and your workplace, along with more information on where to go if you need financial support or help with your mental health.

I’ll be back in touch again soon with another update on our COVID response. Until then, we all need to keep playing our part to stop Delta spreading. We’ve worked hard to stamp out COVID over the past 18 months, and I know that by working together, we can beat the virus once more. We just need to keep going.

Stay home and stay safe,
Jacinda Ardern