A 10-person limit on people allowed at religious services will be increased in coming weeks as long as New Zealand's coronavirus cases remain low, the Prime Minister says.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking this morning, Jacinda Ardern said the limit was in place only for a short period and the Government was hopeful it could increase the numbers soon.
Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield would be reviewing the limit at the end of a two-week period.
"If we continue with that low number of cases then we'll see that number of people who can gather together increase."
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Under level 2 rules venues such as restaurants and cinemas are allowed to have up to 100 people inside and are trusted to arrange for appropriate hygiene and physical distancing.
But religious gatherings are currently limited to 10 people, which has upset some leaders who argue they're quite capable of arranging for social distancing.
Ardern has previously argued that religious services and similar gatherings are unsafe because those attending are part of a community and more likely to mingle and hug.
Hosking raised the point that funeral rules had changed to allow 50 people. Asked about the logic of that change, Ardern said funeral directors were working directly with the Ministry of Health on every funeral.
"When it comes to church services the logic there is, when you've got people who gather together, who are familiar with one another, in large congregations ... that is a risky activity," she said.
She said those rules were "consistent".
"You can't come together for a large 90th birthday or a large anniversary or a large family reunion."
The increase in congregation numbers would not need to wait till a move to level 1 - it would happen in level 2, Ardern said. The Government had previously indicated that would be the case, she said.
Destiny Church's Brian Tamaki yesterday held what he called a "civil disobedience" service, inviting his congregation to a drive-in service at the church's main branch in Manukau.
The church said the event was about "taking a stand" and showing New Zealand's churches could be trusted to hold meetings without breaking the rules or spreading the virus.
Only a select few were allowed into the building and no laws appeared to be broken at the service.