After nearly two weeks at level 3, Cabinet is set to make its decision on when to move New Zealand down to level 2 - with the last release of public data before their big call continuing a promising streak of single-digit daily coronavirus cases. Get all the important news and read the full stories in the links below.
Key developments in NZ
• After weeks of Kiwis being urged to stay home, stay safe and wash their hands, the Cabinet will have its own hands full with a final piece of the Covid data jigsaw revealed today. There are just two new cases of Covid-19 - continuing the single-digit daily cases of the past three weeks – in what is the final release of public data before Cabinet's big decision tomorrow on when to move down to level 2. There are just two people in hospital, in Auckland's Middlemore and North Shore, and only 102 active cases, but one of today's two cases, a woman in her 20s, only just tested positive for Covid-19 despite flying back to New Zealand more than two weeks ago.
• Health Minister David Clark has rejected claims he and other Government ministers have been "gagged", as he fronted today to announce a $160 million boost to Pharmac health spending - which would help ensure that it, and the country's district health boards, have access to more medicines and vaccines. If a Covid-19 vaccine became available, the Government would ensure Pharmac had the money to get hold of it, Clark promised.
• Police fear bars will be "swamped" when the country finally drops to level 2. Under level 2, bars and other public venues will be able to reopen if they meet key conditions. As the nation waits on the announcement, the head of Auckland police's alcohol and harm prevention unit, Senior Sergeant Morgan de la Rue, has spoken of potential pitfalls of the reopening.
Listen live to Newstalk ZB's coronavirus coverage
• Australians and New Zealanders who are desperate to escape to each other's countries could soon have their wish, but passengers would need to adhere to strict travel safety protocols. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison formally agreed to begin work on a transtasman Covid-19 safe travel zone. Here's what a transtasman bubble could look like.
• Mother's Day marks a milestone in one rest home's coronavirus recovery, with treats and gifts from families on the outside allowed in for the holed-up loved ones. Kurt Bayer looks at the cluster at George Manning Lifecare & Village.
• A small number of teachers around the country have expanded their bubbles by going into the classroom under level 3 to educate youngsters whose parents can't keep them at home. They have opened up to the Herald about the highs and lows including dealing with student anxiety, controlling the rigorous sanitising processes, and the pain of not being able to give a worried 5-year-old a hug.
• If New Zealand does come out of lockdown next week it will be a fortnight earlier than the best-case scenario presented by Treasury in its forecasts last month. That would be something to celebrate – in a week that Liam Dann argues is shaping up as one of the biggest in New Zealand's economic history.
• On the day a global pandemic was declared, our Government mulled advice that closing borders long-term would hurt the economy far worse than containing clusters of Covid-19 cases as they arose. Officials presented a lengthy "keep it out" approach, which New Zealand and many other countries ultimately opted for, as the most economically damaging.
• Covid-19 might be a blessing in a very good disguise for many New Zealand businesses, writes Haydn Kerr. Lockdown is forcing businesses all over the country to evolve and give consumers the experience they always wanted - and this is preparing New Zealand businesses for the ultimate crisis that's coming their way.
Around the world
• South Korea's capital closed down more than 2100 bars and other nightspots because of a new cluster of coronavirus infections, Germany scrambled to contain fresh outbreaks at slaughterhouses, and Italian authorities worried that people were getting too friendly at cocktail hour during the country's first weekend of eased restrictions. The new flare-ups — and fears of a second wave of contagion — underscored the dilemma authorities face as they try to reopen their economies.
• Former US President Barack Obama has harshly criticised President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic as an "absolute chaotic disaster" during a conversation with ex-members of his administration.
• Next week's Budget is expected to reveal details of a third-phase sports funding package that includes targeted investment for the vulnerable women's sector. Fears have been made clear that a generation of female athletes could be lost unless targeted Government funding is immediately provided, but Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson told the Herald that there would be a rolling maul of initiatives, with women in sport firmly top of mind.