Auckland is moving back into alert level 3 lockdown after the announcement this evening of four positive cases of Covid-19 from an unknown source.

After 102 days without community transmission, New Zealand recorded four cases, from same family, of Covid-19 with no links to overseas travel.

As a result, New Zealanders tune in to a late-night emergency press conference where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland is going into level 3 lockdown for three days, from midday tomorrow (Wednesday), while the rest of the country will move to alert level 2 for the same length of time.

Following the announcement, delivered by Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealanders took to social media to express their thoughts on the news.

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On Twitter, Aucklanders expressed that they are ready to tackle the virus, while the rest of the country is backing Aucklanders to beat any community transmission of Covid-19.

Posts with messages like "Kia kaha, Auckland" multiplied on Twitter following the news.

As of noon tomorrow, Auckland will move to level 3 for three days until midnight on Friday.

The rest of the country will move to alert level 2 at midday tomorrow - until midnight on Friday.

For Auckland, that means working from home unless you were an essential service worker.

Schools will close unless they had students whose parents were essential workers. Public facilities, bars, restaurants and businesses must close tomorrow.

"We're asking people in Auckland to stay home to stop the spread," Ardern said.

"Act as if you have Covid, and as though people around you have Covid."

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Pharmacies and supermarkets will remain open, but Ardern said there was no reason to panic-buy.

"Please do not rush to the supermarket tonight ... there is no reason to rush out and back any purchases this evening."

For the rest of the country, mass gatherings will be limited to 100 people.

READ MORE: Auckland in lockdown, rest of country in level 2 - Four cases of community transmission

Previous rules for alert levels

Alert Level 4 — Lockdown

Likely that the disease is not contained and community transmission is occurring.

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• Range of measures that can be applied locally or nationally

• People instructed to stay at home in their bubble other than for essential personal movement.

• Safe recreational activity is allowed in the local area.

• Travel is severely limited.

• All gatherings cancelled and all public venues closed.

• Businesses closed except for essential services, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics, petrol stations and lifeline utilities.

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• Educational facilities closed.

• Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities possible.

• Reprioritisation of healthcare services.

Alert Level 3 — Restrict

Community transmission might be happening.

• Range of measures that can be applied locally or nationally.

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• People instructed to stay home in their bubble other than for essential personal movement — including to go to work, school if they have to or for local recreation.

• Physical distancing of 2 metres outside home including on public transport, or 1 metre in controlled environments like schools and workplaces.

• Bubbles must stay within their immediate household bubble but can expand this to reconnect with close family/whānau, or bring in caregivers or support isolated people. This extended bubble should remain exclusive.

• Schools between years 1 to 10 and Early Childhood Education centres can safely open but will have limited capacity. Children should learn at home if possible.

• People must work from home unless that is not possible.

• Businesses can open premises, but cannot physically interact with customers.

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• Low-risk local recreation activities are allowed.

• Public venues are closed. This includes libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds, markets.

• Gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed but only for wedding services, funerals and tangihanga. Physical distancing and public health measures must be maintained.

• Healthcare services use virtual, non-contact consultations where possible.

• Inter-regional travel is highly limited to, for example, essential workers, with limited exemptions for others.

• People at high risk of severe illness such as older people and those with existing medical conditions are encouraged to stay at home where possible, and take additional precautions when leaving home. They may choose to work.

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Alert Level 2 — Reduce

The disease is contained, but the risk of community transmission remains. Risk assessment. Household transmission could be occurring. Single or isolated cluster outbreaks.

• People can reconnect with friends and family, and socialise in groups of up to 100, go shopping or travel domestically if following public health guidance.

• Keep physical distancing of 2 metres from people you don't know when out in public or in retail stores. Keep 1 metre physical distancing in controlled environments like workplaces, where practical.

• No more than 100 people at gatherings, including weddings, birthdays, funerals and tangihanga.

• Businesses can open to the public if following public health guidance including physical distancing and record keeping. Alternative ways of working are encouraged where possible.

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• Hospitality businesses must keep groups of customers separated, seated and served by a single person.

• Maximum of 100 people at a time in a defined space.

• Sport and recreation activities are allowed, subject to conditions on gatherings, record keeping, and physical distancing where practical.

• Public venues such as museums, libraries and pools can open if they comply with public health measures and ensure 1 metre physical distancing and record keeping.

• Event facilities, including cinemas, stadiums, concert venues and casinos can have more than 100 people at a time, provided there are no more than 100 in a defined space, and the groups do not mix.

• Health and disability care services operate as normally as possible.

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• It is safe to send your children to schools, early learning services and tertiary education. There will be appropriate measures in place.

• People at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, for example those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled, and older people, are encouraged to take additional precautions when leaving home. They may work if they agree with their employer that they can do so safely.

Alert Level 1 — Prepare

The disease is contained in New Zealand. COVID-19 is uncontrolled overseas.

• Isolated household transmission could be occurring in New Zealand.

• Range of measures that can be applied locally or nationally

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• Border entry measures to minimise risk of importing COVID-19 cases.

• Intensive testing for COVID-19.

• Rapid contact tracing of any positive case.

• Self-isolation and quarantine required.

• Schools and workplaces open, and must operate safely.

• No restrictions on personal movement but people are encouraged to maintain a record of where they have been.

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• No restrictions on gatherings but organisers encouraged to maintain records to enable contact tracing.

• Stay home if you're sick, report flu-like symptoms.

• Wash and dry your hands, cough into your elbow, don't touch your face.

• No restrictions on domestic transport — avoid public transport or travel if you're sick.

• No restrictions on workplaces or services but they are encouraged to maintain records to enable contact tracing.