There will be plenty of jubilation across Auckland today as the country's largest city wakes to Covid-19 alert level 3 - but there is also likely to be some understandable pockets of trepidation.
The highly transmissible Delta variant means we are not in the relatively comfortable position last time Auckland came down from level 4, on April 28 last year. Back then, new cases were dwindling fast and dropped to zero on May 4.
This time, however, the stakes have changed. There were 14 new cases of Covid-19 reported yesterday, bringing the total number of cases in the outbreak to 1084. Fifteen people are in hospital, four in ICU. Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield expects up to 60 more household members of positive cases will also test positive in coming days.
There are concerns a community outbreak is threatening in the small settlement of Whakatīwai, south of the Auckland border.
Covid-19 modeller Professor Michael Plank says the biggest risk is people meeting up with friends and family who are not in the same bubbles. This appears to have happened already with Bloomfield yesterday revealing one of the households currently affected lived on the same street as another household now infected with Covid-19. A friendly natter at the front gate is all the invitation Delta SARS-CoV-2 variant needs.
Covid modeller Shaun Hendy describes the situation as being "on a knife edge". The greatest danger is bubbles being pricked to socialise.
This is why the need for caution is being well signalled. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has stated repeatedly over past days that level 3 is not opening up. "Level 3 is still stamp it out."
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The precarious situation is driver of The 90% Project - our campaign to lift vaccination rates to more than 90 per cent of the eligible population before Christmas. The more people who are vaccinated, the slower the speed of transmission to our most vulnerable.
Yes, there is still the need for the utmost care. But there is also just cause for optimism. All new cases being reported are connected to current cases or are people already in managed isolation.
Level 3 restrictions, if adhered to by the majority, still have the capacity to eliminate the virus from our communities. Auckland went into level 3 for two weeks in Auckland last year to wipe out the virus.
Our "hidden army" of contact tracers are also waging battle on our behalf. There are now 1400 people responsible for identifying, tracking down and advising people of close contact with a person who has tested positive. Identifying and isolating potential exposure cuts Covid off at the pass.
We, at the same time, must roll up our sleeves. Vaccinating will give us our best shot of getting out the other side of this pandemic by Christmas.
So yes, by all means, Auckland: go out for a walk and grab your first coffee in five weeks. But wear a mask, maintain physical distance, contact trace and stride on back to your bubble. We're not done yet.