* Gang boss given essential worker exemption to come to Auckland
* Aucklanders wake to new freedoms - so what can you do?
* 'Surprised' Brian Tamaki vows to defend police charges for Auckland anti-lockdown protest
* Letter reveals delay in Pfizer vaccine deal
* Everything you need to know about level 3's new rules - your questions answered
* 'We want to help': Immigrant doctors denied work at 'understaffed' hospitals
Anti-vaxxers are holding businesses to ransom and hospitality outlets need the Government to enforce vaccination passports, a top chef says.
Chef and entrepreneur Simon Gault told Mike Yardley on Newstalk ZB that the new vaccine passport could be positive but the Government needed to support hospitality businesses as they couldn't continue to survive in level 3 and 4.
The Government yesterday unveiled a plan to introduce vaccine passes, which would be in place as early as next month. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that people would need to be fully vaccinated to attend large events like music festivals, but would not need a pass to visit "essential services".
Auckland today wakes up to new freedoms under alert level 3 and a loosening of some restrictions. The new rules let people meet outdoors in groups of no more than 10 and no more than two household bubbles at once.
Gault labelled those who didn't want to get vaccinated "muppets" as not getting it was selfish and was holding businesses to ransom.
Businesses not getting involved with the passport for entry, Gault said, could be thought of as a germ-fest, but he hoped the Government would step up and grow "some balls" and enforce the passport so they didn't have to decide for themselves.
He said it was a shame selfish, unvaccinated people were putting others at risk and that the Government even had to go to lengths of organising the passport.
As for the carnage likely facing the industry in the coming months, he said he was in support groups with staff and owners but it was "dire" in regards to how they were doing and how businesses were struggling to keep afloat.
Govt eyes fines for misusing vaccine certificate
Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said people will soon be able to get a certificate to show that they have been vaccinated.
People will be able to have both a hardcopy version as well as a version on their smartphone, if needed.
Asked how officials will make sure people do not use another person's certificate, Hipkins said: "That's definitely one of the big things that we're working our way through at the moment. We want to make sure that people are using their own vaccine certificates and not somebody else's."
He also revealed that there will be fines for anyone who tries to defraud the system.
"There will be fines," he said.
"If you are trying to produce someone else's vaccine certificate and pass it off as your own, there's a good chance you will be caught doing that and there will be sanctions for people who do that."
Why Mongrel Mob leader was an 'essential worker'
Hipkins told Yardley that the decision to grant a Mongrel Mob leader essential worker status to get through to Auckland was simply about eliminating Covid-19 and ensuring they could get accurate contact tracing information.
"No one's a fan of gangs, I'm not a fan of gangs, but ultimately needs must in this situation and we need to get Covid under control."
He said the last thing the Government needed was to miss them and for gangs to stop co-operating.
"If we have to bring someone into Auckland to make sure that they co-operate then that's what we have to do."
Asked what the public would be thinking about a gang member being granted essential worker status, Hipkins replied, "ultimately the public will want to see that we're stamping out Covid-19 cases".
"If that means that we've got Mongrel Mob or any other gang members in there we need to get information out of them. If we take a law and order, hardline approach with them that's probably the worst thing we can do in regards to Covid because it will mean they will just stop giving us information."
He said the efforts by the senior Mongrel Mob member had been successful so far.
"We have had a good degree of co-operation and we have been able to identify cases and their contacts and isolate those and stop the spread of Covid."
As for claims the Pfizer wanted to start talking with the Government as early as June last year - which didn't eventuate until August 10 - Hipkins said they did begin talks then and Pfizer had nothing ready to show them then anyway.
"All the pharmaceutical companies were wanting to talk about vaccines but they didn't have any available yet."
Hipkins said NZ had more than enough vaccines and couldn't have had them earlier - "if there was any way to get vaccines earlier we would have done that".
As for the vaccine certificate and minimising the risk of forgery, he said there was a lot of work to ensure that didn't happen.
Kiwis who had been vaccinated overseas would be able to use the same system being used in NZ but would first have to go through a "process of verifying" they had been jabbed.
Their vaccine would then be registered in the system operating here and that should be happening before Christmas.
As for someone with a medical condition, that would also be able to be recorded on the passport being developed and that person would be registered as having an exemption.
"We want the system to be able to record that, QR code, but it will say that you are okay because you had an exemption."
Hipkins said they wanted a system in place to record all the different issues.
Using the certificate for domestic travel hadn't been mandated yet, Hipkins said, but it will be "one of the options on the table".
He said that will be discussed in the next month or two.
People would hear more about vaccine mandates for teachers and healthcare workers in the next "week and a half or so".
As for Auckland dropping to level 2 next week, Hipkins said there was a "certainly a chance but I wouldn't want to give you a degree of odds on it" happening.
Meanwhile, more information on booster jabs would be out in the next "couple of weeks" and he was "absolutely confident" the Government would deliver them "when it is decided they would be required".
Big festivals gear up for summer
Rhythm and Vines co-founder Hamish Pinkham told the AM Show they needed to be at level 1 for the Gisborne festival to go ahead, and said yesterday's news of vaccine passports was positive for the future of the festival.
He said the vaccine mandate gave the festivals something to work towards.
"We're here in October, summer's knocking," he said.
"There's certainly lots of moving parts, but having some direction on the vaccine mandate helps us to puts some gears in place."
He said the vaccine passport needed to be something people could bring to the festival.
"What we learned yesterday was no vax, no gigs, so we are now as an industry getting behind that," he said.
"At least it gives us some sort of line in the sand we can work towards."
Asked about people who can't be vaccinated who may have already bought a ticket, he said they would be given a refund.
He said 50 per cent of attendees came from Auckland, and they would need the country open for the festival to go ahead as normal.
'Bold move' - Collins
National Party leader Judith Collins says Government moves to reduce restrictions in Auckland was a "pretty bold move".
Speaking to TVNZ's Breakfast, she said: "I thought that the Government lifting some of the restrictions around the lockdown in Auckland before we got the vaccinations rate up further was a pretty bold move.
"But in addition to that, there are lots of other things that we could be doing, like get the rapid antigen tests out, like get saliva testing right through the community, make sure all of our businesses that employ a lot of people - particularly the trucking companies and courier companies - that they have saliva testing [available]"
Collins said the "slowness" of the Government's Covid response was infuriating.
She said the Government needed to supercharge its vaccination roll-out.
Asked directly about what National would do in regards to people who were still unvaccinated or chose not to be vaccinated, she said they believed in personal responsibility.
Asked if National would support employers having the right to call for their employees to get vaccinated, she said employers need to make that choice, but the Government needs to give them guidance.
"We can see what the Government has to front up," she said.
Collins acknowledged it will be interesting to see if the Government itself will soon call for politicians and its other employees to get vaccinated.
How to get more Māori vaccinated
Indigenous rights advocate Tina Ngata said there needs to be a Māori for Māori approach in the vaccine rollout to reach more Māori.
"The Government still isn't trusting us with the power...even though we have demonstrated we can do it well," she told Breakfast.
Ngata acknowledged that there remained a deep mistrust of the Crown and the Government among some Māori - therefore preventing them from trusting the vaccine.
She acknowledged that that was sometimes misinterpreted as not complying with the rules.
But it was important to remember that many Māori were also on the frontline of the Covid response and in other parts of society, working during the pandemic.
"It's just deeply unfair."
Outdoor gatherings the safest option - PM
After nearly two months in lockdown isolation, Aucklanders can finally burst their bubbles and reconnect with loved ones. But what can you do in this new-look level 3?
This loosening of level 3 kicks off the Government's three-stage plan to end Covid restrictions.
From today, two households will be able to gather outdoors, up to a maximum of 10 people.
Whether it be a catch up to walk the dogs or a family picnic, mask-wearing is encouraged and social distancing is a must.
On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said outdoor gatherings was the safest option - and pleaded with Aucklanders to keep those meetings outside.
"The science tells us Covid finds it hard to spread outdoors," she said.
"The natural ventilation provided by being outside makes it hard for the virus to spread, which makes outdoor gatherings the safest option."
Mayor Phil Goff has asked people to remember Covid-19 is still in the community.
"Being able to meet friends or family is something many Aucklanders have been looking forward to, but remember it needs to be outside where there is much less chance of contagion."
So you can take your children to see their grandparents, but they cannot exchange a hug. However, if you're meeting up for some long-awaited catch-up drinks you can remove your mask when eating and drinking.
It may be hard for young children to distance themselves, but play dates outdoors are allowed as long as parents are careful.
If you don't want to join the masses and catch up with another household at the park or beach, you can reconnect in your backyard. But what if nature calls and you need to go to the bathroom?
Dr Ashley Bloomfield said you can use the bathroom as long as it doesn't create an indoor gathering.
Although more facilities will be available, Auckland Council is asking people use common sense.
"Playgrounds, skateparks and basketball courts will reopen but we ask that people exercise common sense when out and about."
From today, Aucklanders will also be able to travel across the region to pursue outdoor recreational pursuits, like hunting, fishing and walks on the beach, provided other rules on distancing, masks and bubbles are adhered to.
Coastguard CEO Callum Gillespie is asking Auckland boaties to not rush to the water and take the time to check and prep their vessels.
"For almost two months, boats in Auckland have sat idle, which means boaties need to run a full check on their engines and batteries and replace old fuel with clean, fresh fuel," Gillespie said.
Coastguard New Zealand will continue to operate on a reactive basis, but non-urgent callouts may experience a delayed response.
"Skippers should also double-check the fundamentals of boating safety before launching – lifejackets for everyone on the boat, having two forms of waterproof communication and keeping an eye on local marine weather before heading out."
On Monday, Ardern stressed that keeping all activities outside was "fundamental to this change".
"Don't feel tempted, if the weather turns bad, to switch over to meeting in your homes," she said. "Being outside is what makes the difference here."
Unfortunately, Auckland's weather has plans to keep people indoors with an unsettled week ahead.
MetService has said those in Auckland should expect rain at times today, mainly in the afternoon. Scattered rain, possibly heavy, is expected on Thursday.
Although this may seem like you can make a trip across to Waiheke Island, Auckland is still in level 3, so a holiday away is a no-no.
However, Fullers360 is seeking clarity on whether it can ferry day trippers to Waiheke Island under the rules.
A spokeswoman for the ferry operator told the Herald on Monday it was working with Auckland Transport and the NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi to understand what the new three-step approach means for public transport operators.
On top of being able to catch up with loved ones outdoors, parents can send their children back to daycare.
Early childhood education will reopen, with limits of groups of 10 in a bubble and infection control processes.
"Our public health team believe that with the right precautions in place, including limiting the size of groups to 10 children within a bubble at an ECE, strict infection prevention and control, the risk posed by the return of ECE is low," Ardern said.
Parents and caregivers must wear masks for pick up and drop-offs and ECE teachers were encouraged to agree to regular tests and vaccinations.