- Auckland is moving to alert level 3 from midday today, as four cases of community transmission of Covid-19 were announced last night.
- Outside of Auckland, the rest of New Zealand will move to level 2 from midday.
- The restrictions will last three days until midnight Friday.
* The level 3 and 2 rules - all you need to know and what you can and can't do
* Motorways, supermarkets busy as Aucklanders prepare for new lockdown
* Schools in Auckland advised to close immediately
* 'NZ's worst nightmare' - how world media reacted to country's return to lockdown
* Virus expert: Covid may already be circulating across Auckland
* What the new levels mean for sport
* Pupil from infected family attended Auckland primary school
Auckland is moving to alert level 3 from midday today, as four cases of community transmission of Covid-19 were announced last night.
Outside of Auckland, the rest of New Zealand will move to level 2 from midday.
The restrictions will last three days until midnight Friday.
'We've got this'
Tauranga-based Labour list MP Jan Tinetti said, like everyone else, she was disappointed with the move back to alert level 2 but was confident the community would handle the situation.
"We've got to face what's in front of us, we've done this before and we've got this. We can do this again and I'm really delighted and proud that as a country we are going into the alert levels we are going into because the strong health response means we can beat this quickly.
"No one wants to see us go back into a situation like we've seen happen in Australia, we want to get on top of this right away. From what I've seen this morning, a lot of people are really supportive and they want to work as a team to beat this."
Health board prepared
Bay of Plenty District Health Board incident controller Dr Joe Bourne said he was confident in the board's planning and preparedness, as the country moved into changing alert levels.
"We have spent our time during alert level 1 preparing resurgence plans to ensure the readiness of our hospitals and community providers to respond to an outbreak.
"Whilst we had scaled down our response during the last two months, we've continued to have our emergency operations centre active to ensure that we are prepared to respond."
The community should remain vigilant and calm, Bourne said. He confirmed there were no suspected cases of Covid-19 in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board region.
"People only need to get tested if they are unwell, unless they have been contacted by public health and been advised that they are a close or casual contact.
"We will be monitoring the numbers of people presenting for testing and will increase capacity as needed."
The health board had ample supplies of PPE, Bourne said.
Increased safety precautions at supermarkets
A Foodstuffs spokeswoman said there would be increased sanitisation and safety measures for customers to follow in the supermarkets which would initially be in place from midday today until midnight on Friday but this "may be extended depending on the advice received from Government over the coming days".
"While we truly hoped it wouldn't happen, as a business we just had to plan that another outbreak could occur, and the teams have been prepared for some time should we need to reinstate previous alert level protocols."
She said Foodstuffs had good stocks of PPE and hand sanitiser, and teams were familiar with what was required to keep themselves and customers safe.
"We would like to reassure customers that, just like before, our supply chain is robust. We are working hard to make sure all the grocery items New Zealand households might need are on the shelf and readily available."
She reinforced the need to shop normally which was the best way to ensure there was no pressure on the supply chain.
Foodstuffs is the operator of Pak'nSave, New World and Four Square supermarkets, among others.
Countdown's health and safety general manager Kiri Hannifin said there would physical distancing measures in stores, queue control, extra cleaning, and limits on customer numbers and certain products.
There would be a limit of one mask per customer.
There would be a limit of three on flour, bags of rice, dry pasta, canned baked beans and spaghetti, UHT milk, frozen vegetables, toilet paper, paper towels, personal wash, hand sanitiser, paracetamol, household cleaner, sanitary items, baby formula.
There will also be a limit of six on wine and beer.
Further spread of Covid-19 would be "utterly devastating" for the economy
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said he was "gutted" to see Covid back in the community.
"You can just see by how the Ministry of Health are scrambling to try and find where those individual cases have been and who they've been in contact with – I suspect it's going to get worse yet.
"In a context of the Bay of Plenty, we're holding our breath to see whether it can be contained to a small number in south Auckland or whether it expands further. Particularly those small businesses who are about to be confronted with their worst horror, that really worries me.
"Obviously, if it expands further it will be utterly devastating for this country from an economic and social perspective and for us as a community."
He said the further spread of Covid-19 would be "more than a setback".
"There are huge numbers of families and particularly businesses that are hanging on by a thread. They were slowly getting their cash flow and balance sheet back to something which meant they might be able to survive.
"They simply have no resilience for anything that happens again and that's the real challenge. That's when you really impact communities, when businesses have to fold up.
"You have to always follow the advice of the Ministry of Health in terms of keeping yourself and your loved ones safe, social distancing and staying tuned to the evolving situation."
The queue to enter Pak'nSave in Pāpāmoa is stretching around the corner of the store as entries are limited once again.
Staff were dishing out pumps of hand sanitiser and a handful of people were wearing masks.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last night pharmacies and supermarkets would remain open, and said there was no reason to panic buy.
Shoppers the Bay of Plenty Times spoke to said they were doing their normal shopping but had not anticipated the queues. Mary Townhill of Arataki said she normally shopped on a Wednesday.
"I'm not stocking up, just getting what I need. Hopefully this won't get any worse."
There was a similar scene at Countdown over the road at Papamoa Plaza with a queue out the door.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the sudden announcements came as a surprise.
"There will be a sense of frustration particularly among business owners who were hardest hit from the initial lockdown.
"The businesses who were hardest hit by the initial lockdown are already low on reserves and cashflow margins. This makes them more vulnerable to future lockdowns."
Other businesses, he said, were made stronger because of the initial lockdown.
"They have the tools and they know what they need to do to survive."
Cowley said moving into level 2 reinforced every business needed to be adaptable over the next 12 months.
"Many businesses have been preparing for this event in their risk planning," he said.
"It is a reminder that the world is in the middle of a global pandemic. We all need to follow the rules so we can get back to level 1 as soon as possible."
His advice to businesses if the country moves further into lockdown was to be prepared for more cases like this over the next year.
"New Zealand's main defence against the virus is our border controls, so it was more of a matter of when this would occur. Businesses who are most adaptable to sudden changes will be better off."
Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty regional manager Alan Sciascia said the sudden nature of Tuesday's announcement came as a surprise to everyone and businesses were still working out the various implications involved.
"For BOP businesses there could be advantages and disadvantages," he said.
"Those who would have otherwise have travelled to Auckland will now be making other plans, which could potentially bring people to the BOP who may have gone elsewhere.
"However, the uncertainty of everything could result in people sitting tight until more details are known."
For bars and restaurants, it was back to the three Ss meaning customers must be seated, separated and served by a single server - and contact tracing.
"It's all very much a moving feast and we do expect government guidelines to change, just as they did through the previous alert levels."
Impact on mourning families feared
Elliotts Funeral Services manager Neil Gedge feared the impact would be on mourning families and the funeral industry should the alert level be raised from 2.
"It's going to be devastating, we know the effects it had the last time."
He said they had already received calls this morning but was comforted at the moment by the fact they would still be able to hold services up to 100 people.
There were two memorials planned in the coming week and one would need to be postponed as it was "going to be huge".
Retailers must maintain social distancing
Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said Bay retailers were still able to open but were advised to maintain a minimum social distancing of 2m.
"This means one person in-store for every four square metres of space. Businesses should also be displaying the official Covid-19 Tracer App QR code for customers to use."
Harford said Tuesday's announcement was really bad news for retailers both in the Bay and throughout New Zealand.
"Retail NZ is hoping that the situation can be brought under control quickly, but there is a real risk that we will see the level 3 lockdown extended to other parts of the country."
Harford said the move to level 2 in the Bay will dent consumer confidence and will likely have a significant chilling effect on retail spending.
"Businesses have been struggling to recover from the previous lockdown, and the increase in alert level will make it even more challenging for those businesses to get through.
"There's significant concern from retailers about the impacts of the new restrictions, and some will likely need additional Government support in order to survive."
His advice was to plan ahead and think about how to manage if further restrictions are introduced.
"Businesses will want to be thinking about whether they need to set up an online presence, and what provisions they can make for click and collect.
"If you haven't already switched on contactless payments, now is a good time to do so – it shouldn't cost the Earth but it is important to make sure you're on the right kind price of planning."
Changes will affect most vulnerable
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said level 2 will largely effect hospitality and retail businesses who were most vulnerable after lockdown.
"Covid-19 will hang over us for a long time, and instances like this should not be unexpected over the next year or two.
"How we react is important, let's support our local businesses in this tough time."
Bay of Plenty's mayors react
Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber said it was critical to note that the district was not like Auckland, "yet".
"But if we put our foot off the accelerator, that's a real possibility."
Webber said it was essential people followed guidelines with social distancing, washing hands "and making sure we know where we have been".
"We might have taken a deep breath and thought that it has missed us but unfortunately these things don't ever go away."
Webber said the council was incredibly prepared.
Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell said "it's really disappointing to be in this position again."
"I think we're learning now that Covid is something we just have to live with and manage as a part of our daily lives."
Powell said there was a lot of travel between Auckland and the Bay of Plenty but now more then ever it was important to reiterate to support local business.
He had already received a number of calls from people who were upset about the announcement and it was important to not panic, look after one another, check in on neighbours, and tighten up on personal hygiene and maintain social distancing.
"In the back of everyone's mind, we knew there was a possibility of this happening."
"We've been here before, we know we can do it. Let's do it again."
Under alert level 2, Tauranga City Council services and facilities will remain open, with physical distancing measures in place.
Transfer stations:Transfer stations will continue with regular services.
Mauao:Mauao is open. However, it is a Covid-19 high-risk area due to the number of visitors, the inability for them to maintain safe physical distancing, and an inability to contact trace all users.
Matapihi rail bridge:The rail bridge is open. However, it is also a Covid-19 high-risk area due to the narrowness of the bridge and users' inability to maintain safe physical distancing when someone is coming the other way.
To protect yourself and others, please consider using an alternative route.
Parks and reserves:Parks and reserves will be open, including Oropi Mountain Bike Park and McLaren Falls Park.
The McLaren Falls Campground will be closed while at Alert Level 2.
Playgrounds:Playgrounds will remain open, however, council ask everyone to follow the government guidelines.
Contacting the Council:There will be a limit on the number of people allowed in the customer service centre at any one time.
Libraries: All Tauranga city libraries will remain open. However, programmes and events are postponed until further notice.
This includes individual lessons and justice of the peace (JP) services.
To reduce the time of visits, customers can also re-order books online. There will be no charge for holds.
Bay Venues:Public venues and programmes will remain open with strict health and safety practices in place, including contact-tracing to record who is coming into our venues and when.
More to come.
What does level 2 mean?
If you are outside of Auckland, under level 2, it is recommended you stay at home to be safe.
Under alert level 2, mass gatherings will be limited to 100 people.
You can exercise at parks or beaches within your region, but the closer to home the better. Activities must be safe – keep 2m away from anyone not in your bubble - and make minimal trips.
Also, don't even think about picking up a new hobby and trying to surf for the first time. This could put you and others at risk, so stick with going for a quick dip and stay within your comfort levels.
Can I go to the supermarket?
Yes, supermarkets will remain open at all levels. Do not panic buy - food and medicines will be available at all levels.
Can I still go to work?
Aucklanders must work from home unless they are essential workers.
If that's not possible, staff have to make sure they keep 2m apart, record who they interact with, have good hygiene practices and make sure surfaces are disinfected.
New Zealanders are urged to prepare for an imminent second wave of Covid-19, the country's top health official is demonstrating how to correctly use a face mask on social media this morning.
But if businesses involve face-to-face contact, they'll have to keep the doors closed. That includes gyms, house cleaners, hairdressers, sales people and masseuses. These, however, will be able to open under alert level 2 with the right measures.
"Customers cannot come on to your premises," Ardern said. "Unless you are a supermarket, dairy, petrol station, pharmacy or permitted health service.
"Your business must be contactless. Your customers can pay online, over the phone or in a contactless way. Delivery or pick-up must also be contactless."
Testing on the rise
Covid-19 testing has increased in the Rotorua Lakes District amid calls by health officials for people to be "ever-vigilant" to the risk.
A Lakes District Health Board spokeswoman said 148 people were swab tested at the two testing clinics in Rotorua and Taupo last week, which included 102 in Rotorua.
The week before, 58 tests were carried out in Rotorua and 33 in Taupō.
"There have been occasional queues of three or four cars at the testing clinics, but usually, people will be tested within 30 minutes of arriving," the spokeswoman said.
Across the two Lakes District Health Board testing clinics, 7511 people had been swab tested since March.
Meanwhile, between August 3-7, 655 Covid-19 tests were carried out in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board zone, compared to 532 tests the previous week - a 23 per cent increase.
Bay of Plenty District Health Board incident controller Dr Joe Bourne said the number of people presenting to general practices had increased in the past two weeks.
"But the numbers are manageable," he said.
"There was an increase in testing last week, but we think this is driven more by the general messaging encouraging people to continue to get tested if they have symptoms.
"By spreading the testing across all 55 general practices in the Bay of Plenty, and by also supporting testing by referral to Pathlab offices, we are able to share the load and avoid long queues."
He said the vast majority of Pathlab results were available within 24 hours.