* 'Unprecedented territory': Cops break rank with Speaker over Parliament protest
* Omicron cases grow as New Zealanders get boosted
* Kiwi group starts court battle with Government over MIQ overhaul
* Behind the protest: Organiser's unsuccessful political career and failed gold mining scheme
Cabinet is meeting today to discuss moving the country into phase 2 of its Omicron response plan, which would see the number of days required to isolate drop and allow critical workers who are close contacts to continue working.
It comes as cars are swamping testing stations around Auckland this morning after yesterday's record-breaking tally.
The queue outside the Balmoral test site has stretched out on to the road.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this morning confirmed the move to phase 2 could be just days away as case numbers hover near the 1000 mark - the figure previously touted as the magic number that would push the country into the next phase of the response.
Yesterday there were 810 new Covid-19 cases in the community, up from 454 the previous day. A total of 32 people were in hospital, mostly in Auckland, and none were in intensive care.
As Covid puts more and more pressure on the health system, the Ministry of Health has today launched a $1 million fund to see up to 200 former nurses return to the healthcare sector.
"The support fund is to help nurses who are not currently practising to return to a nursing role, to meet increased demand, support safe staffing, and improve access to care," said the Ministry's chief nursing officer Lorraine Hetaraka.
Moving to phase 2 means a shift in focus from "stamping out" Covid-19 in the community to slowing any further spread and protecting the most at-risk communities.
Ardern told TVNZ this morning that the growth in cases was expected, albeit a bit slower than predicted due to the rate of vaccinations and preventative measures.
Ardern said most people who will get Covid will experience "mild to moderate" symptoms.
Ardern said in phase 2, the Government would start to move into a more digital form of communication with close contacts or contacts - solely due to the growth of cases during that time.
Later speaking to Newshub, she added that now was the time to have those discussions about moving to phase 2 given case numbers were getting near 1000 cases a day.
She said businesses should start planning for the close contact exemption scheme coming in the next few days.
A business could register as a critical workplace. They would be given a document to verify this and the worker then needed to take that documentation, some ID and proof they were a close contact to a local provider such as a pharmacy who would then give them a pack of 10 Rapid Antigen Tests.
The Government didn't want to have a bunch of close contacts unnecessary operating in the workplace which was why there was a process in place to identify critical workers, she said.
Meanwhile thousands of protesters continue to occupy Parliament's forecourt and are causing disruption to Wellington's CBD as the protest enters its second week.
Ardern said she did not approve of the tactics they had seen from the protesters and said they and their children should go home.
"What we have seen out there seems much more anti-vaccination than anything else."
Actions such as yelling out to those who were wearing masks and disrupting businesses were moving beyond a protest, she said.
"In fact to me it looks like an imported style of protest that I have not seen in New Zealand before complete with Trump flags and Canadian flags."
Some of the behaviour she had seen was "pure misinformation around the role of vaccines".
Ardern would not be drawn about whether water should have been thrown on the protesters at the weekend, saying ultimately she needed to let the Speaker and the police do their jobs as it was their jurisdiction.
While she believe the protesters were making anti-vaccine rather than anti-mandate stances, she reiterated the Government would only use restrictions for as long as they needed to and they had already moved away from lockdowns.
When they were in a position to remove vaccine passes and mandates in healthcare and education then they would, Ardern said.
But as case numbers were increasing, it was difficult to put a date on that would be.
"When we can we will, but when we are on the upside of a curve in the Omicron outbreak - now is not the time."
Wellington District Commander Superintendent Corrie Parnell told RNZ police had been planning their next approach over the weekend and had tried to open lines of communications with various leaders.
Police had also brought in extra staff from around the country with the view to clear Parliament grounds.
He said one of the greatest complexities was that there were so many different groups so it was difficult to speak with all the leaders.
However police were making progress in terms of communication and had the "best of the best" negotiators there.
Police were focused on clearing the protesters from outside Parliament where they were illegally, as well as freeing up the streets of Wellington. Alternative parking for those protesters whose cars were blocking up the street, but he would not say where the alternative parking was on the radio.
When asked if he was confident the vehicles would move today, Parnell said he always remained optimistic.
Over the weekend there had been about 3000 people on the grounds and the bad weather had not deterred those hardcore occupiers, he said.
Former National MP Matt King told AM that 98 per cent of the Parliament protesters he had spoken to over the past few days would leave if the mandates were removed.
"I believe we can remove most of them, if not all of them off if we get a rock solid guarantee they will remove the mandates on a certain date."
However he said if police started arresting the protesters, more would come.
"They are not violent, they are being as passive as," he said.