Auckland residents would currently be wearing masks at work and school and still be unable to leave the city under a Covid-19 "alert level 2.5" if a team of public health experts had their way.
And as well as alert level 1, the trio has proposed a halfway house of "alert level 1.5", which would bring stricter limits on the size of gatherings.
It comes as the Prime Minister and Cabinet meet today to discuss the next move for restrictions for Auckland and the rest of the country.
The group from the University of Otago has called for the current alert level systems to be revised to take in the latest research from overseas.
Professor Nick Wilson, Professor Michael Baker and Dr Amanda Kvalsig said this could help New Zealand eliminate the virus again and potentially tackle any future outbreak in cases without the need to resort to a level 4 lockdown.
Key among the trio's recommendations was introducing a more graduated alert level system that included level 2.5 and 1.5 restrictions.
Under the proposed level 2.5 restriction, masks would become mandatory in nearly all public settings.
That included at workplaces, high schools and social gatherings. Primary schools and home would be the only exemptions.
Travel outside of any outbreak region would also not be permitted, while all social gatherings, including funerals and tangihanga, would be limited to 10 people.
Under the proposed new alert level 2, masks would be required on public transport and in health and aged care facilities, while social gatherings would be limited to 50 for funerals and tangihanga or 20 otherwise.
LISTEN LIVE TO NEWSTALK ZB
7.35am: Winston Peters
People would also not be permitted to travel between the North and South Island if one of the islands was subject to an outbreak.
The new alert level 1.5 would mirror alert level 2, except public gatherings would be raised to a limit of 50, while 100 mourners would be allowed at funerals and tangihanga.
Alert level 1 would then have no restrictions, except possibly for aged care homes. Gatherings of more than 100 people would also need to have contact tracing systems in place.
The authors said New Zealand had made good progress controlling the current outbreak and in adopting the use of face masks on public transport.
However, there was still inadequate use of "mass masking" and the country had a fairly crude alert level system that lacked nuance, they said.
Growing evidence was increasingly pointing to "mass masking" being an effective, low-cost intervention in reducing Covid-19 transmission, they said.
"NZ is also still not making fast progress with digital technologies to boost manual contact tracing."
Wilson told Newstalk ZB today that if more people wore masks it would help businesses because it could mean less need for physical distancing.
It could also speed up a return to an alert level 1.
Wilson also said he didn't expect Cabinet to lower the alert level to 1 from Sunday - but he did not think it would be too far off.
"We are not really seeing enough evidence yet of really good control ... we still get cases every day in the community. To be really confident, we should be waiting to see days where there's no new cases," he told Mike Hosking.
Wilson and his colleagues said ideally there would be adequate community consultation before any new alert system was brought in.
"Unfortunately, there is not time for these processes while there is the urgency associated with an outbreak in Auckland and so we urge the Government to consider acting immediately on revising the alert level system," they said.
"Then when all NZ is back to level 1, there should be detailed research to optimise the alert level system further in case a future border control failure occurs before an effective vaccine arrives."