New Zealanders are due to find out today whether or not the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown will be extended.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that will ultimately be decided based on a number of factors - including three elements she described as "key" to their decision-making.

"The level of increase in our cases. Secondly, what we're seeing in community transmission and thirdly what we will see from the extra testing that we intend to see at regional level - because that will give us a better insight into what's happening locally.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Mark Mitchell
A testing station in Māngere, South Auckland. Photo / Sylvie Whinray
A testing station in Māngere, South Auckland. Photo / Sylvie Whinray

Hospitals around the country were running at 50 to 60 per cent capacity, he said, meaning there were about 1000 empty beds.


Intensive care unit staff are being trained and hospitals are getting ready while there are fewer people in hospital.

Ardern also revealed that the Ministry of Social Development was due to release data on the number of people who had applied for help via benefits.

That information was expected on Thursday, she said.

On essential items now available to be purchased online, Ardern said although that was a good thing, she acknowledged that the public needed to remember that also meant more workers would be out there also - packing and delivering those items.

"So we need to keep that at a minimum as well."

Ardern's words came shortly after the Queen gave a rare speech to the world - only the fifth time she has done so in her 68-year reign.

The latest number of confirmed and probable cases reached 1039 yesterday, as 89 new cases were announced.

Of those new cases, 48 made up were regarded to be confirmed Covid-19 cases while the rest were said to be probable.


A total of 15 people were in hospital and three people were in intensive care. Of those patients, two people are in a critical condition.

Along with those cases came the official announcement and clarification on such activities as swimming, surfing, fishing, hunting and tramping - they are now all banned.

Members of the public were earlier told that such outdoor recreational and water-related activities were discouraged at this time.

However, as people have continued to flout rules, officials and authorities have moved to officially ban them.