New Zealand has just one active Covid-19 case today — but Finance Minister Grant Robertson refuses to be drawn on the possibility of lifting restrictions earlier than expected.

Robertson said New Zealand had done "incredibly well" in the fight against Covid-19.

The Government was flexible and would review alert level settings on June 8, he said, and reiterated Cabinet would look at moving to level 1 no later than June 22.

But he would not commit to action when asked whether having only one active case made it more likely that Cabinet might consider whether New Zealand was ready to move to level 1 earlier.


"The worst thing of all would be for New Zealand to move backwards again," he told a media conference in Wellington.

Subscribe to Premium

The one person who still has Covid is in Auckland DHB and is 50 to 59 years old. The most recent Auckland case in that age group was reported on May 1.

The definition of recovered is "people who had the virus, are at least 10 days since onset and have not exhibited symptoms for 48 hours".

It appears the person in question has had the virus for more than 10 days - 29 in fact.

Robertson said the increase in the limit on gatherings to 100 people made New Zealand one of the most open societies and economies in the world at the moment.

Queen's Birthday weekend will feel much more like normal life for many New Zealanders, he said.

He said the weekly economic update from the Treasury today showed that heavy traffic was now 5 per cent below normal levels, electricity use was above pre-Covid levels, and electronic card spending was now about equal to pre-Covid levels.

Ministry of Social Development data showed an increase of only 384 people on the Jobseeker benefit for the week of May 22, while the wage subsidy had paid out $10.97b to 1.6 million workers.


He welcomed transtasman cricket rivalry that will resume this summer for both the men's and women's teams, and wished the Warriors well in their return to the rugby league field.

He said National's JobStart policy, announced today by leader Todd Muller to give $10,000 to businesses hiring new workers, was not a new idea.

"For us, we've got an immediate support ... on creating jobs right now," Robertson said.

He welcomed "constructive ideas" but questioned some elements of the policy, including being able to get some of the money but then firing the new employee within 90 days.

Under National's policy, companies would be paid $5000 when the new employee was hired and a further $5000 after the new hire had been employed for 90 days.

Robertson said repatriation flights were still being worked on to help New Zealanders return home in a Covid-hit world, and 760 active cases were being looked at.


He said 2600 Kiwis and their families had flown home on 76 Government and private repatriation flights from dozens of countries.

The hospitality sector was still facing challenges under level 2, he said, but export sectors were faring "relatively well". Manufacturing output was "a little lower" than normal, but Robertson said economic output under level 2 was at about 90 per cent.

A commercial rent solution being looked at involved an agreement between landlords and tenants for lower rents, if the tenants' income had been hit by Covid-19.

Robertson said the Government was still working on commercial rents.

He said he wasn't sure a rent subsidy was needed to ease commercial rent pains.

He said he did not want to put a timeline on allowing international students to return to New Zealand, which Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has said should be allowed now.