Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has welcomed the news the city won't be moving to Covid alert level 4 but says there will still be personal sacrifices for many people under level 3.

And he urged residents not to panic buy.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced tonight New Zealand will maintain its current lockdown settings for 12 more days to fight the re-emergence of the virus in the community.

"The extension of the wage subsidy and the leave scheme will be crucial to support businesses as we navigate the next two weeks," Goff said after the announcement.


About 20 to 25 per cent of businesses would be affected by the restrictions, he said.

He urged people to "shop locally" as much as they could, with takeaways and "click and collect" allowed at level 3.

"I want to remind Aucklanders to be patient and kind, and to act responsibly. The last lockdown clearly showed we will not run out of supermarket supplies, so please do not hoard or panic buy."

Goff said it had been devastating moving back into level 3 this week after a new Covid-19 outbreak.

"After enjoying our almost-unique status of being Covid-free for over 100 days, it's devastating for all of us to see its re-emergence.

"However, we know from experience that going hard and going early is the best way to stop Covid-19's spread.

"Melbourne's experience shows us that if we don't take that approach, Covid's spread can be rampant, with a big cost on human wellbeing and lives. In the end, an even stricter lockdown becomes necessary, which has high economic costs as well.

"I welcome the fact that we are not going back to a level 4 lockdown. But even at level 3 I know this means personal sacrifices for people and for businesses and I thank Aucklanders for that."


He urged people to check in on one another - by phone or digitally.

In terms of the impact on the council, Goff said it would be much less severe than the five weeks at level 4 previously.

"I am very much relieved we are not going into level 4.

"We have already laid off 600 temporary contract workers and are looking to downsize 500 permanent positions."

He would be in discussion with council officials over the weekend to determine the expected cost, and with the Government to explore support.

"I will be having discussions again with the Minister of Finance to explore ways the Government could work with us."


This could involve infrastructure projects that would generate jobs and stimulate the economy while providing long-term assets to the region, Goff said.

Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore said: "Given the virulence of this virus, we need to take a precautionary approach to ensure that Auckland can emerge into clear weather.

"Level 3 strikes the right balance between an effective response to the resurgence, and supporting our economy. So many businesses have already taken a hard hit this year."

Goff agreed.

"To beat the virus, we need to work together," he said.

Mayor Phil Goff at the Spark Arena food distribution centre during the first pandemic. Photo / RNZ
Mayor Phil Goff at the Spark Arena food distribution centre during the first pandemic. Photo / RNZ

"It means all of us observing the rules of social distancing, washing our hands regularly and it's wise to wear a face mask in public.


"Those who have flu-like symptoms need to contact their GP or Healthline and get tested."

Auckland was plunged into level 3 and the rest of the country into level 2 on Wednesday at midday.

Ardern had said on Tuesday night the Auckland lockdown would last until midnight tonight unless it was decided it needed to be extended.

Tonight she said the settings will remain until 11.59pm on August 26, but Cabinet will review the settings on August 21.

The aim was to restore level 1 freedoms as quickly as possible.

Lifting restrictions now and seeing an explosion of cases later would be devastating for Auckland, and though level 3 was easier on the economy than full lockdown, Ardern acknowledged it would be hard on Auckland.


The new alert levels came after the discovery of four new cases of community transmission – all from the same family – in Auckland.

There are 30 active cases connected to the recent outbreak. Two new confirmed cases are in Tokoroa, the rest in Auckland.

Members of the cluster have travelled to Rotorua, Taupō and Morrinsville.

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Letter to ministers

Goff is concerned about the economic impact of the latest outbreak on the city and the council, which took a $500 million hit from the first pandemic.

The mayor outlined the economic concerns in a letter to Government ministers on July 24 and asked "what level of support might be available to a city facing renewed lockdown?"

Today on Morning Report, he said "the petrol tank is empty", prompting the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union to call on Finance Minister Grant Robertson to refuse a bailout of Auckland Council until it reins in spending.


The Heart of the City business association is also gravely concerned about the impact of Covid, saying in May after the level 4 lockdown the city centre could lose more than 12,400 jobs, $3.1 billion of revenue and will take at least two years to get back on its feet.

During the first pandemic and lockdown, council staff helped with the humanitarian crisis to ensure the delivery of food parcels and staying in touch with the elderly.

About 40 council staff were deployed to take calls from people struggling and seeking food parcels and basic necessities, which resulted in 3000 requests for food parcels in the first week.

On a lighter note, the council kept connected with Aucklanders with a steady stream of content, including a video of orangutans arriving home at Auckland Zoo that had more than 330,000 views, exercise videos by leisure staff watched by more than 110,000 people and e-book downloads, which soared to more than 330,000 during level 4.