The Government has revealed what life will be like for New Zealanders at alert level 2, as confidence grows that the country is on track for the move next week. Get all the important news and read the full stories in the links below.
Key developments in NZ
• The Government has revealed what life will look like when the country moves to alert level 2 - we can leave our bubbles to see our families and friends, and bars, malls, hairdressers and schools will reopen, with precautions. After six weeks in an unprecedented state of lockdown, New Zealand could move to the less restrictive alert regime as soon as Wednesday next week. Cabinet will decide on Monday whether the country is ready to move down from level 3, but today's announcement is designed to give people and businesses clarity around the next step – here are the rules for level 2.
• Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says New Zealand is still on track for a move to level 2, with no cases of recent community transmission and a vast improvement in contact tracing. He added that masks will not be compulsory at level 2 and, while physical distancing will be more important than ever, people should be able to give their friends and family a "quick hug". His comments come as just one new coronavirus case was revealed today.
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• All health and disability care services will operate as normal where possible under level 2, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says, though like level 3 and 4, GP and community service consultations should be done over the phone or via video call if possible. More non-urgent surgeries will be able to take place in both private and public hospitals. At the same time, urgent and semi-urgent elective surgeries will resume.
• A stocktake in the Health Ministry's handling of personal protective equipment has found initial teething issues have now been resolved, according to Health Minister David Clark. The stocktake was ordered following repeated stories about frontline health and community workers and their frustrations about access to PPE and the implementation around guidelines for its use. Clark said that there was confidence all 20 DHBs had "appropriate processes in place to distribute PPE to all their community-based providers".
• Finance Minister Grant Robertson has revealed the Government will be running deficits for an "extended period" of time and its debt levels will reach an all-time high. He says some of the Government's major previously mooted Budget plans have been "put on ice" as it fights to pump life into the post-Covid economy.
• There aren't many bright spots in the economy at the moment but one of them is mānuka honey - so why are companies involved in that sector applying for support from the Government's wage subsidy scheme? Jamie Gray investigates.
• Moves to relax rules on domestic leisure travel will be lapped up by the industry and while too late for some businesses, are a beacon for many operators. When New Zealand does move to level 2 Kiwis will be able to move around the country, and while international visitors are still banned, the announcement means the $23 billion a year domestic tourist industry can kick back into life.
Around the world
• A survey of citizens from 23 countries has found most nations are unimpressed with their leaders' Covid-19 response. New Zealand is a notable exception.
• As Europe and the US loosen their lockdowns, health experts are expressing growing dread over what they say is an all-but-certain second wave of deaths and infections that could force governments to clamp back down in a drawn-out, two-steps-forward-one-step-back process.
• Professional sport will make its return at level 2, with rugby and netball set to join league in resuming their seasons. Super Rugby will return as "Super Rugby Aotearoa", with all five Kiwi franchises playing each other twice over 10 weeks, while netball's ANZ Premiership is set to hold all of its games at one venue.
• Passionate pleas to MPs have underlined the grave threat to the survival of women's sport in New Zealand, with strong suggestions a generation of future female athletes will be lost unless targeted government investment is swiftly ushered through. The Warriors admitted that they may be forced to axe their women's team, unless further funding is found.