It was no surprise that the alert level settings were left unchanged for another week, given the ongoing possibility of the last gasps of the outbreak storming up again.
But the in-principle decision to move Auckland to level 3 from Wednesday next week - even if a handful of cases of concern remain unresolved - was a surprise.
It also became clear that level 1 freedoms won't be enjoyed around the country until the outbreak was sufficiently contained for Auckland to move out of level 4.
Yesterday the number of mystery cases dropped to 27, but there were only 17 in the past fortnight, meaning 10 were old enough to be considered all but stamped out.
Only a few were still causing headaches.
"There's really only three or four that we discussed in a lot of detail because there's not really an early hint of what's happened," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
Such cases hint at undetected chains of transmission, but high testing in targeted areas can still ringfence them.
"The view of the public health team is that while we have those on the table, if we do enough testing, that can be the reassurance - even if you can't build that epi-link," she said.
So if testing levels continue as high as they have in the past week across Mt Eden, Massey, Mangere, Favona, Papatoetoe, Otara and Manurewa, and no curveball cases pop up, Auckland can leave level 4 behind.
This appears to be a less conservative stance than some experts, who have called for a sustained period of zero unlinked cases before it was safe enough.
Testing in those suburbs hasn't turned up any unexpected cases so far, nor has testing across healthcare and essential workers.
The only cases that were found through surveillance testing were the two asymptomatic people who visited Middlemore Hospital last week, one of whom was the parent of a baby with symptoms.
Other cases of concern include one in Mt Eden - a missing link between flatmates who have tested positive, but whose genomes suggest that one didn't infect the other.
Another is the man who was admitted to a ward at Middlemore Hospital ED on September 4, and who was tested the following day after staff observed symptoms. Seven of those he lives with have tested positive.
And another is the only case from yesterday that remains unlinked.
More cases like these could leave Auckland in level 4 for longer, but high daily case numbers - such as yesterday's 33 cases - aren't necessarily concerning.
A long tail was expected, given the high likelihood of transmission within households, and the bigger, intergenerational households associated with some of the subclusters in the outbreak.
Ardern said that Cabinet was yet to consider whether an alert level 3/1 split was viable for Auckland and the rest of the country.
But she all but ruled out a 4/1 split, given how much movement out of Auckland there still is.
She also made it clear that level 1, as we knew it, is still the goal.
This is no surprise, having previously chosen level 1 and tighter borders instead of letting more people into the country, but living at a "pseudo level 2".
Having brushed off the idea of incentives to encourage Aucklanders to keep following the rules, she then dropped a massive carrot.
See out the end of this outbreak, and we're all in for a summer of events, concerts and festivals.