Leaving Auckland in level 3 until Sunday was expected, given what a lurch back into lockdown before October 17 would mean for Jacinda Ardern's re-election chances.
It was also understandable in light of the ongoing uncertainty about the perimeter of the outbreak and the mystery cases still being investigated.
Not moving the rest of the country to level 1 seemed less defendable. All the current community cases are either in Auckland, or are linked to the cluster and contained.
And the justification for it casts a cloud on when Aucklanders - and all Kiwis - might taste level 1 freedoms again.
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The health reasons for a blanket level 2 from next week are reasonable.
Aucklanders are more likely to have been in contact with Covid-19, but from Monday they can travel outside the city under level 2. If the rest of the country was at level 1, they could attend an indoor event with hundreds of people and no physical distancing.
Trying to keep Aucklanders from doing this by checking everyone's reasons for leaving the city would be, in Ardern's words, "unworkable".
There remains an inconsistency with Aucklanders next week having a 10-person limit on social gatherings, but a 100-person limit if they're outside the city.
But at least physical distancing rules will be country-wide, which is also a line of defence for those travelling to Auckland who risk picking up Covid-19 and taking it back home.
The alternative was to keep alert level differences and continue limiting travel in and out of Auckland. Would this have been too cruel on a city already taking one for Team Five Million?
Cabinet's decision effectively means the rest of the country is also taking a hit by staying at a higher alert level so people can travel in and out of Auckland.
But it's a kick in the guts for non-Auckland bars, clubs and event planners that would thrive much more under level 1.
At level 2 dance floors are empty, stadiums and cinemas outside Auckland can only have 100 people, bar patrons are all seated at a table, and tables are all separated and have a single server.
It's a heavy burden on those businesses, and how long it will last is unclear.
Several weeks at level 2?
Cabinet will reassess the settings on September 6, meaning the earliest New Zealand could be at level 1 is still 13 days away.
But Ardern's justification yesterday is just as valid for Cabinet's future decisions on level 1.
That could mean the whole country may only see level 1 when Auckland, too, is safe enough for dance floors to be raucously full once more.
When will that be?
The last time Cabinet decided it was time for level 1 - on June 8 - there were no active cases in New Zealand, no positive cases for 17 days, and no one in hospital because of Covid-19 for 12 days.
There had been no community transmission for 40 days and 22 days had passed since the last such case finished their isolation.
In the current outbreak, today there were seven new locally-acquired cases.
Cases still under investigation went into isolation as recently as Friday. Genomic sequencing has linked one of the cases to the cluster, but how they got infected remains a mystery.
That means we are in the dark about how many links there are in the chain between them and a cluster case.
Compared to June's numbers, this all points to several weeks before a move to level 1.
The difference between now and June is the vast improvement in public health measures that have been on display in the past fortnight - mass testing, contact-tracing and genome sequencing.
Border protections are also being beefed up, with 500 more Defence Force personnel, a Covid Card for all workers at managed isolation and quarantine facilities, and - finally - regular testing of border-facing workers.
This means the chains of transmission don't need to be as fully stamped out as they were last time, so level 1 could happen even as new cases continue to pop up. A staged move - ongoing physical distancing, for example - could also see restrictions being eased sooner.
The red flags will be those cases where the links in the infection chain remain a puzzle.
Aucklanders will be watching out for any such cases for clues about when more freedoms might be forthcoming.
As will the rest of the country, in particular beleaguered hospitality and events businesses longing for level 1.