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Auckland is this morning adjusting to a "new new normal" - level 2.5 living - as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern apologises for a wrong message which urged all 750,000 south and west Aucklanders to get a Covid test.

She told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking today she was "angry, frustrated... a range of emotions" after a social media post - on Facebook and Instagram - from the official all-of-Government Covid-response page said residents needed to get a test, even if they did not have symptoms.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern apologises for a wrong message which urged all 750,000 south and west Aucklanders to get a Covid test. Video / Newstalk ZB

"It was a mistake, I fully acknowledge that," Ardern told Hosking.


She said the message - which she had learned about at 10am yesterday morning - had led to people lining up at testing stations yesterday, unnecessarily.

"The issue here is that in simplifying some of the messages they have shared incorrect messages. No excuse for that. It caused anxiety for people and for that I apologise. No one wants to see people afraid. No one wanted to see people unnecessarily lining up."

She said she would be taking time to find out what happened. "It feels to me a little bit at the moment that I don't think we can place blame on any one person's shoulders. It's a series of errors have been made here."

She said she had raised it immediately with those who had the ability to remove it from the social media platforms - even though the message was still up on Instagram as she spoke at the 1pm press conference yesterday.

"If we wanted over 700,000 people to get a test we wouldn't just leave it to an Instagram or Twitter post. That would be something we would be sharing openly from the podium."

The apology comes as Auckland is this morning out of lockdown and into another "new normal" - with roadblocks lifted and masks donned for public transport commuters and many workers.

But concerns still remain as the cluster that plunged the city into level 3 continues to grow.

Ardern warned that she expected the Auckland cluster to get larger and that the tail of new cases "will be long".


Instead of moving Auckland straight from level 3 to level 2, Ardern announced Auckland would be in a state she described as "level 2.5".

This is being welcomed by epidemiologist Michael Baker, who said it was a "good move", given the fact the cluster will continue to grow.

But he warned that there was some level of uncertainty as to whether level 2.5 would be enough to contain this outbreak.

Despite this, the move out of lockdown will come as welcome news to many Aucklanders, businesses in particular, who have been in level 3 for close to 20 days.

However, moving out of lockdown also comes with a level of uncertainty and some apprehension, especially from parents sending children back to school and daycare.

This is because there is still community transmission of Covid-19 in the city and Ardern is warning that new cases will continue to be reported.


There were just two new cases of Covid-19 in the community yesterday – both linked to the Auckland cluster, which is now 135 people.

Ten people are in hospital, two of whom are in ICU.

Last time New Zealand, as a whole, came out of level 3 there had been no community transmission cases in almost two weeks.

Despite this, director of public health Caroline McElnay argued yesterday that the spread of the virus within New Zealand was under control.

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"There may be some further cases that would continue to occur within the community, but our level of comfort with the control of the cluster is high."

Ardern said it was "highly likely" that proactive tests would reveal even more community transmission cases in the coming weeks.


And it is because the Auckland cluster continues to grow that the Government moved the city into, what she described as, level 2.5.

This is not an official alert level, rather a heightened version of the level 2 Auckland has already experienced.

Rules around the use of masks have already been announced, but Ardern reiterated them yesterday.

"Basically, when you step out of your home, we are asking you if you can please wear a mask," she asked of Aucklanders.

There will be "very strict settings" when it comes to aged-care facilities, she said.

Ardern was also at pains to point out that level 2.5 means social gatherings are limited to 10 people.


"I cannot stress how important this is," she said.

"Much of this cluster has stemmed from social gatherings. If we want to stop the spread, we have to stop socialising for a time.

"I know that these new normals will take a little while to get used to, but these are measures that are in place for a good reason."

Ardern used this same phrase when New Zealand first moved to level 4 lockdown in late March.

Yesterday, she said the level 2 systems were designed to be effective while officials work to stamp out a Covid cluster.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to a lab technician during a visit to the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research at Victoria University. Photo / Getty Images
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to a lab technician during a visit to the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research at Victoria University. Photo / Getty Images

She said that New Zealand's "systems are good".


When asked if the decision to move out of level 3 was a political one, Ardern said: "not at all".

"Never ever have we made a political decision in the management of Covid-19.

"We have made health-based decisions and evidence-based decisions because that's the best way we support our economy."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, meanwhile, has urged Aucklanders to wear a mask if they are out in public.

"We've got a system in place to stop the spread of transmission, but the system only works if people follow it," he said.

He said most Aucklanders have been following the rules, some have been flouting them.


Ardern noted that the rules don't just apply to the city of Auckland, they are guidelines for Aucklanders.

That means Aucklanders should not be visiting aged-care homes in any part of the country.

Nor should they be attending mass gatherings in other cities or regions either.

This won't be enforced, but Ardern appealed to people's "common sense" and said there would be an element of trust.

Ardern was clear yesterday that the Government "will step up levels again if we need to".
But she is confident that this won't happen.

"We are placing trust in our system, but we are also placing trust in our team of five million."


Ardern did, however, have an ace up her sleeve in case Aucklanders decide they don't want to follow the rules and wear a mask on public transport.

In her opening statements, Ardern said that she would not rule out mandating their use if people fail to use them as they have been asked.