Auckland hit a major milestone yesterday with 90 per cent of eligible people in all three DHBS having had their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Just 192 people in Counties Manukau DHB had to get their first dose on Sunday for the DHB to hit 90 per cent.
Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins said last night it was "exciting" to see the city hit 90 per cent, a key milestone in opening up.
The city's other DHBs - Auckland and Waitematā - were already at 94.6 per cent and 91.9 per cent respectively yesterday.
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High vaccination rates will be encouraging news for Tāmaki Makaurau, which has borne the brunt of the Delta outbreak and is now regularly seeing more than 100 daily cases.
There was also good news from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who confirmed yesterday that Aucklanders would be able to leave the city over summer - although the details of how and when that will happen are still unclear.
Hipkins said it was "really pleasing" to see the targeted work from local health providers paying off.
"In particular the work of Māori and Pacific providers in Counties Manukau is succeeding. Getting to 90 per cent first doses required pulling out all the stops in Auckland. This has included literally going door to door to ensure people are vaccinated."
When all three DHBs hit 90 per cent double-dosed, the city will move to the new traffic light system, with more freedoms for vaccinated people.
Waitematā was at 83.3 per cent double-dosed on Sunday and Auckland was at 86.9 per cent, while Counties was at 80 per cent.
If everyone who got their first dose got their second three weeks later, the city could hit 90 per cent fully vaccinated on November 28.
Hipkins said that was within the city's reach.
"Everyone wants restrictions eased as soon as possible. We need to keep going and get those final second doses so we can ease restrictions with high rates of vaccination and high levels of confidence."
On November 29, Cabinet is due to review how each DHB's vaccinations are tracking. Cabinet will also decide today whether Auckland can move to the second step of alert level 3 restrictions at 11.59pm on Tuesday.
That would mean shops, museums and libraries could open with mask-wearing and social distancing, with outdoor gathering limits of 25, up from 10.
Of Sunday's 113 cases, three were in Waikato and one in Northland while the remaining 109 were in Auckland.
That was well down on Saturday's grim tally of 200 Auckland cases - likely because there were just 9000 tests in Auckland on Saturday compared to 13,000 on Friday.
A record 74 people were in hospital on Sunday, all in Auckland, after two people were discharged from Waikato Hospital overnight.
The average age of those hospitalised was 51, with five in intensive care or a high-dependency unit. The vast majority of those in hospital are not fully vaccinated.
There were 816 Covid-positive people in Auckland isolating at home, across 661 households.
Despite the high case numbers, on Sunday morning Ardern confirmed Aucklanders would be able to be reunited with their families over summer.
But it's still unclear if vaccinations will be required to cross the city's borders.
It followed a week of mixed messages over the logistical challenge of moving roughly 40,000 Aucklanders across the border and into areas with lower vaccination rates.
While nationwide first doses are at 89 per cent, pockets of New Zealand have much lower rates. Tairāwhiti DHB's first doses are at just 80 per cent, Whanganui and the Lakes DHBs both at 82 per cent and the West Coast DHB is on 83 per cent.
Speaking to Q+A's Jack Tame, Ardern said the transition period was "tricky" but each DHB hitting 90 per cent vaccination levels would make things simpler.
The Covid protection framework, or traffic light system, would be implemented where hard borders were not required.
The vaccination certificate system was "a little more sophisticated than what some other countries have", and was being trialled digitally this week.
It would be in place next month but could be brought in this month if vaccination rates were high enough.
Ardern was also pushed on the decision to move Auckland down to alert level 3. Since then the relative proportion of Māori cases has tripled to 40 per cent of all cases.
The level 3 move also came when the Māori vaccination rate was much lower than the overall rate - a disparity that persists.
As of Sunday 74 per cent of Māori aged 12 or over had had their first dose and 57 per cent their second. Pasifika people were at 87 per cent first dose and 72 per cent second dose.
Asked if the same alert level decision would have been made if everyone had the vaccination levels of Māori, Ardern said level 3 remained highly restrictive and they had kept it in place to allow vaccination levels to rise.
"We have moved to level 3 cautiously for the precise reason that you've raised to do everything we can to protect people and we continue to do so," Ardern told Tame.
"Our hospitalisations have been lower [than other countries]. Our death rate has been lower, and we've still managed to protect people's livelihoods. But we now have a tool available to us that I will do everything I can to make sure people take up and that is the vaccine."