Shops, barbers, bars and cafes can open under alert level 2, while domestic travel will open up and national rugby and netball seasons can start again.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says physical distancing measures will still need to be maintained, large parties will be banned, sports events will be crowdless, and higher risk elements might be phased in depending on public health advice.

That means that gatherings up to 100 people - indoors or outdoors - and travel around the country will be allowed, but maybe not as soon as level 2 starts.

Cabinet will decide on Monday whether the country is ready to move alert levels, but Ardern outlined today what level 2 life will look like.

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It comes as one new Covid-19 case was announced today, with no additional deaths and ongoing signs of no widespread community transmission.

Ardern likened New Zealand's position to being halfway down Mt Everest in the fight against Covid-19, and no one would want to climb back up, but it was pertinent to consider that the descent was the most dangerous.

Ardern was confident level 2 will be enforced, but an outbreak of cases was still possible and would trigger a return to level 3.

"No one wants a second wave - no one," Ardern said.

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Under level 2, Kiwis can be free of their bubbles and travel "safely" around the country, Ardern said.

Public parks and recreational sports facilities will be open again, and professional sport can resume again such as Super Rugby and the national netball league.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said there will be a 2m physical distancing guideline for strangers and 1m for familiar faces - but a "careful hug" was okay for close friends and family.

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If someone with a cough left their home, the safest distance from them is two metres, Ardern said.

People at higher risk, such as people over 70 or with underlying health conditions, would have the same rules under level 2 as everyone else.

Weddings and concerts

Ardern said indoor and outdoor gatherings would be limited to up to 100 people under alert level 2, meaning weddings, funerals and concerts could happen as long as they stuck to these restrictions.

The previous guidelines had allowed outdoor gatherings up to 500 people, but Ardern said that had been changed because the risk of such a large gathering was considered too great.

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Weddings and concerts could happen, as long as there were fewer than 100 people. Photo / 123RF
Weddings and concerts could happen, as long as there were fewer than 100 people. Photo / 123RF

Space, hygiene and contact tracing principles still applied at level 2. Have people over for dinner, Ardern said, but keep numbers small and it was not the time for a large party.

Further guidance on small gatherings such as dinner parties will be released in the coming days, but large gatherings and cramming people into a home was a "no-no".

Travel around NZ

On domestic travel, which was previously restricted under the level 2 guidelines, Ardern said people will be allowed to move "safely" around the country.

People should keep physical distance, for example, at airports.

On domestic travel, which was previously restricted under the level 2 guidelines, Ardern said people will be allowed to move
On domestic travel, which was previously restricted under the level 2 guidelines, Ardern said people will be allowed to move "safely" around the country. Photo / Peter Meecham

This will boost domestic tourism, she said, and people will be excited to get a haircut and have a holiday.

But she added that domestic travel for a large gathering was "not a safe purpose for travel".

Go with Tourism director Matt Stenton on retaining hospitality and tourism talent

Bars, cafes and barbers

Hospitality, including cafes and bars, can open but that meant only businesses that can apply the three Ss - which are aimed at limiting contact with strangers.

The first is 'seated' - entry is only allowed for the number of people who can be seated, which will prevent congestion.

The second S is separation. There has to be space between people and tables, for example, and each table must have a single server (third S), and service must be at the table rather than the counter.

The Government had worked with the sector on the three Ss, and decided it was a better approach to level 2 rather than choosing what type of businesses can and cannot operate.

"Certain venues, nightclubs and so on, unless they adapt in that way, they won't be able to operate," she said.

Bars, cafes and restaurants will not need to have contactless payments, she said, but Eftpos terminals, door handles or high-contact surfaces will need to be cleaned regularly.

Contact tracing will likely include QR codes, but manual or digital recording should be used in the meantime for customers.

Customer contact outside venues, in queues for instance, will have to be controlled or businesses will risk being shut down, Ardern said.

Busy times ahead for Hairdressers as they brace for post-lockdown frenzy of customers. Video / Dean Purcell

Service premises and office spaces can open, but "the fewer people the better" to make contact tracing easier and faster.

Staggered start times and working from home should still be a part of the mix, she said, and each business can work out their own best practices.

Hairdressers and retail stores can open again, but surfaces must be cleaned and physical distance should be kept. Malls can open and be treated like supermarkets are now, including with appropriate PPE where needed.

Bloomfield said mask wearing for hairdressers and in beauty salons made sense at level 2, but at the moment there was no intention to make mask-wearing compulsory.

Shopping centres will have to change how they operate under Covid-19 Level 2. Photo / Dean Purcell
Shopping centres will have to change how they operate under Covid-19 Level 2. Photo / Dean Purcell

Schools to re-open

Ardern said ECE centres and schools will open at level 2, and with so few cases in New Zealand, those should be safe environments for students and staff.

Distance learning will still be available for those unable to return to school, such as for students isolating because they have Covid-19, she said.

A positive case in a school will mean that school will close for 72 hours to enable contact tracing, and possibly for 14 days if required.

Schools will open at the start of a week, whenever a decision is made about moving to level 2. Photo / 123RF
Schools will open at the start of a week, whenever a decision is made about moving to level 2. Photo / 123RF

Schools will open at the start of a week, whenever a decision is made about moving to level 2, she said.

Kids should still stay at home if sick.

Schools will also have to keep attendance records for contact tracing purposes.

'Play it safe' - the rules for level 2

The PM said the virus had bounced back in other countries, and New Zealand needed to "stay in control".

Level 3 had been about restricting contact as much as possible, and level 2 was still aimed at reducing close contact with strangers.

"It is very unlikely that we have hunted down every single case of Covid-19. If stray cases start new chains of transmission, we might not find them for a month," Ardern said.

She said level 2 was about keeping the economy back up and running, but to "play it safe".

The health principles were the same, including to stay home if you are even "slightly sick", being tested for even a runny nose or a sore throat, and washing hands often and properly all of the time.

"Don't pass other people your phone," was one example the PM gave.

The border will still be closed to non-New Zealanders.

Service premises and office spaces can open, but
Service premises and office spaces can open, but "the fewer people the better" to make contact tracing easier and faster. Photo / 123RF

"When it comes time to move, we want to move with confidence."

That meant the possibility of moving into level 2 in a phased way, Ardern said, depending on the latest health advice.

"No decisions have been made yet. We wait for all of the data before we do that."

The Government will not have all the answers, and Ardern said businesses with questions should reach out to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

One new case today

Bloomfield announced one new Covid-19 case today. The new case is linked to the Matamata cluster.

The Waikato DHB is calling for anyone in the area to seek advice if they want to be tested, he said.

The total number of confirmed and probable Covid-19 cases is 1489, and 1332 people have recovered, or 89 per cent of all cases.

There are two people in hospital, neither are in ICU.

The death toll from Covid-19 in New Zealand remains at 21.

Bloomfield said all the cases this week were linked to existing cases "which is exactly where we want to be."

Yesterday there was a high of 7323 tests, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 168,023.

Exemptions from lockdown rules

He said the review of 32 exemptions had now been completed, and all the decisions had been processed correctly.

However, some of the findings would have been different under the new criteria following the judicial decision last week.

One person had been allowed to leave managed isolation to visit a dying relative.