Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealanders should still expect big restrictions on their interactions with other people when the country moves to alert level 3.

She told Chris Lynch on Newstalk ZB that it still wasn't known exactly when New Zealand would move down from its current level 4 to the lower level.

"One thing I will just flag is that at that level, because of the risk we are trying to combat, there will still be significant restrictions on your interactions with other people.

"If you think about the need to keep doing that, you'll get a better idea of what life will still be like. But it will be different to level 4."


The Government would provide details on how it would impact schools, business, workplaces and other sectors this afternoon, she said.

Ardern said New Zealand had the "sad benefit" of experiencing the virus later than other countries.

"You see other countries now who are in lockdown extending their lockdowns, and that's because they went in late - often because they were at the frontline of Covid.

"That has in part led to our framework which is not only are our health outcomes better if we try and eliminate Covid, but our economic outcomes - go hard, go early, keep it short and sharp with the goal of not end up there for longer."

She said she had discussed with other global leaders what it could look like if countries had a second wave of coronavirus.

She wanted to focus on elimination to minimise the effect of coronavirus on New Zealanders' daily lives.

Asked about price-gouging, Ardern said the Government had been quick to respond where it saw over-charging.

She said in some cases seasonal changes were to blame for high prices - like cauliflower - rather than price-gouging.


Asked about small to medium businesses struggling during lockdown, she said the Government knew they were vulnerable.

She cited the support the Government had provided, in particular, with the wage subsidy but also changes around rent arrears and tax changes.

"They really have been a big focus for us."

Ardern said she got updates on global research on coronavirus vaccines and treatment drugs.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield says the 15 new cases are made up of six confirmed cases and nine probable cases. Twelve people are in hospital, three are in ICU and two are in a critical condition.

New Zealand was part of the global research effort in these areas, she said.

The confidential reports she was getting were the same as the public reports - that a vaccine was likely to take at least 12 months.


Ardern also discussed some of the positive side-effects of the lockdown, such as neighbours getting to know each other and being more aware of other people's needs.

"Some of the stories I hear of what people are doing to reach out to the vulnerable and isolated are really heart-warming."

Ardern said she was seeing more of her daughter Neve than she used to.

"If I were to give a silver lining that's one for me."

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said earlier today that all signs are positive towards lifting New Zealand's lockdown next week and a lower level would see "a whole lot" more businesses able to open under guidelines.

"Unless there is an adverse finding... the evidence looks compelling for that [lockdown lifting]," Peters told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking today.


He would wait right up until Monday - when Cabinet meets to decide on the future of the lockdown - and for the latest health information, but right now, the data "points to the easing up of the situation".

Peters expected "a whole lot" of businesses would be able to reopen next week, provided they met safety requirements and guidelines, of which more will be revealed today.

There would be advice for specific sectors and specific guidelines within those sectors, he said. It was important business owners had clarity to be able to say "yes, we can comply".

"We have to get this economy coming back as fast as we can without making a mistake on the way through."

The four-week lockdown officially ends next Wednesday night, at 11.59pm, but the Government won't announce whether we move down a level until next week.

However, New Zealanders will today get to hear about what life looks like after lockdown - expect to see pubs and food courts still closed but potentially takeaways allowed and more police on the roads.


The Government will release guidance around alert levels 3 and 2 and what measures businesses would need to have in place at each step.

But it will likely still be quite restrictive with Finance Minister Grant Robertson calling it a
move from "essential" to "safe" businesses.

As of yesterday, New Zealand had 1386 positive cases of coronavirus, with 20 new cases reported. Nine people have died after contracting the virus.

Yesterday, for the first time, the number of people recovered from the coronavirus - 728 - outweighed the number who still had symptoms of Covid-19.

Thirteen people are in hospital and two of those are in a critical condition in intensive care units.

An elderly man who died in his Invercargill home on Tuesday night is believed to be the tenth coronavirus-related fatality.


The cause of death was not confirmed yesterday but if it was found to be Covid-19, it would be the first death in the community.

But the country wasn't yet out of the woods and Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said "very rigorous testing" and contact tracing would now be fundamental in the effort to fight the deadly virus.

Another aged-care facility in Auckland was revealed to have had an outbreak yesterday, meaning six are now associated with a Covid-19 cluster. There are 16 clusters in total.

The number of cases worldwide has passed the two million mark.

In New York, the epicentre of the pandemic, residents have been told they must now wear masks where physical distancing is not possible.