- Auckland is moving to alert level 3 from midday today, as four cases of community transmission of Covid-19 were announced last night.
- Outside of Auckland, the rest of New Zealand will move to level 2 from midday.
- The restrictions will last three days until midnight Friday.
* The level 3 and 2 rules - all you need to know and what you can and can't do
* Motorways, supermarkets busy as Aucklanders prepare for new lockdown
* Schools in Auckland advised to close immediately
* 'NZ's worst nightmare' - how world media reacted to country's return to lockdown
* Virus expert: Covid may already be circulating across Auckland
* What the new levels mean for sport
* Pupil from infected family attended Auckland primary school
Auckland is moving to alert level 3 from midday today, as four cases of community transmission of Covid-19 were announced last night.
Outside of Auckland, the rest of New Zealand will move to level 2 from midday.
The restrictions will last three days until midnight Friday.
Re-emergence a blow
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said she did not have details regarding the connection to Rotorua of the Auckland cases at this time, but expected to be informed as soon as is possible and appropriate.
"The re-emergence of community transmission is obviously a blow at a time New Zealand is trying to re-ignite economy but we always knew it would be a long game. And we knew we would need to be prepared to adapt and respond as new challenges arose.
"This is an anxious time but as before, we need to be guided by the experts who are leading the national response."
She said the latest development reinforced the need to remain vigilant.
"This is about community resilience, we need to work together, activate our networks, and look after each other.
"We can't predict the impact of this latest development, it's an evolving situation, but our businesses will have been well prepared for this eventuality.
"Right now we need to focus on what's in front of us and all play our role in getting through as quickly as possible."
Rotorua's Zippy Central Cafe owner Morgan Wilson said staff would start spacing out tables preparing for level 2 at midday.
"There is a fair amount of work we need to do to refit the place for level 2. But staff are pretty au fait with what we need to do."
Wilson said level 2 was their "hardest level" as people were unsettled, but he and his staff were just going to follow the protocols.
"Level 2 at the beginning there was a heavy atmosphere. People didn't know what to do.
But now we do and it will be better because of that.
"We've all experienced it. It's not our first rodeo."
Staff at Countdown Fenton St in Rotorua are wearing masks and customers are being asked to practice social distancing.
Rotorua woman Judy Hanna came this morning to get some supplies such as toilet paper, flour and yeast. She said she wasn't panicking as she was only buying a handful of those items but she said she was just taking precautions.
She said she was glad everyone was taking it seriously as it's best to get on top of it early.
A Foodstuffs spokeswoman said there would be increased sanitisation and safety measures for customers to follow in the supermarkets which would initially be in place from midday today until midnight on Friday but this "may be extended depending on the advice received from Government over the coming days".
"While we truly hoped it wouldn't happen, as a business we just had to plan that another outbreak could occur, and the teams have been prepared for some time should we need to reinstate previous alert level protocols."
She said Foodstuffs had good stocks of PPE and hand sanitiser, and teams were familiar with what was required to keep themselves and customers safe.
"We would like to reassure customers that, just like before, our supply chain is robust. We are working hard to make sure all the grocery items New Zealand households might need are on the shelf and readily available."
She reinforced the need to shop normal which was the best way to ensure there was no pressure on the supply chain.
Foodstuffs is the operator of Pak'nSave, New World and Four Square supermarkets, among others.
Countdown's health and safety general manager Kiri Hannifin said there would physical distancing measures in stores, queue control, extra cleaning, and limits on customer numbers and certain products.
There would be a limit of one mask to be sold.
There would be a limit of three on flour, bags of rice, dry pasta, canned baked beans and spaghetti, UHT milk, frozen vegetables, toilet paper, paper towel, personal wash, hand sanitiser, paracetamol, household cleaner, sanitary items, baby formula.
There will also be a limit of six on wine and beer.
Government must be open in communication
Rotorua National MP Todd McClay said the Government needed to be open and clear with people about "what they know and when they knew it.
"They have to give every assurance that they're going to get on top of this as quickly as they can. The people of Rotorua sacrificed greatly during lockdown and it would be very hard for everybody locally if we have to go through that again.
"Local people should follow the advice of our health professionals closely and clearly. A lot of information will unfold in the coming days.
"The Prime Minister has not provided a lot of information yet so it is hard to say if the right moves have been made but I assume she is following the advice of health professionals.
"There is much more to this story to unfold. I hope the restrictions are only for three days but come Friday we'll know. Ultimately, people need to make sure they look after their friends and family," McClay said.
The Rotorua Daily Post was unable to reach mayor Steve Chadwick by phone and was told by the communications team that she was currently unavailable.
Lakes District Health Board prepared for changing alert levels
Lakes DHB incident management team director of nursing and midwifery and incident controller Gary Lees was confident the hospital was prepared for the changing alert levels.
"We have already tested plans earlier in the year during lockdown and while we had a small number of cases in the Lakes DHB area during lockdown, our plans were tested and we know that they worked. We have been evaluating those plans in recent weeks to further improve them."
Testing stations at Rotorua and Taupō have remained open in previous months, Lees said, but in light of the move to level two, changes would be made.
"We are now planning to increase the opening times of the stations."
He said, new times would be advertised once finalised.
PPE stock levels were also good in the district, Lees said.
"We will rely on new orders coming from the Ministry of Health in the coming weeks and are confident the supply chain for PPE is working well.
"At Lakes DHB we have seen this in operation as a result of having managed isolation facilities in Rotorua."
All DHB staff wear PPE if appropriate for the task, he said.
"In the hospitals our staff often have to treat people with contagious illness so donning PPE for these situations is part and parcel of our normal work. These situations occur regardless of any change in alert levels."
Lakes DHB does not have any suspected Covid-19 cases, a spokeswoman confirmed.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said it was still very early to make any reasoned assessment on any possible impacts on local business.
"The best thing we can all do is to not overreact either way and to all do our bit to ensure that we all stay safe.
"Things like maintaining our social distancing, washing our hands, keeping track of our movements and contacts and above all, stay calm. We have done this before and know what to do."
Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty regional manager Alan Sciascia said the sudden nature of Tuesday's announcement came as a surprise to everyone and businesses were still working out the various implications involved.
"For BOP businesses there could be advantages and disadvantages," he said.
"Those who would have otherwise have travelled to Auckland will now be making other plans, which could potentially bring people to the BOP who may have gone elsewhere.
"However, the uncertainty of everything could result in people sitting tight until more details are known."
Waiariki Women's Refuge manager Paula Coker feared there would be a surge in violence and the safe house would "overflow" should the restrictions tighten - which she suspected it would.
She said a combination of basic needs not being met, financial struggles and women becoming more isolated would result in a spike in violence.
What does Level 2 mean?
If you are outside of Auckland, under level 2, it is recommended you stay at home to be safe.
Under alert level 2, mass gatherings will be limited to 100 people.
You can exercise at parks or beaches within your region, but the closer to home the better. Activities must be safe – keep two metres away from anyone not in your bubble - and make minimal trips.
Also, don't even think about picking up a new hobby and trying to surf for the first time. This could put you and others at risk, so stick with going for a quick dip and stay within your comfort levels.
Can I go to the supermarket?
Yes, supermarkets will remain open at all levels. Do not panic buy - food and medicines will be available at all levels.
Can I still go to work?
Aucklanders must work from home unless they are essential workers.
If that's not possible, staff have to make sure they keep two metres apart, record who they interact with, have good hygiene practices and make sure surfaces are disinfected.
New Zealanders are urged to prepare for an imminent second wave of Covid-19, the country's top health official is demonstrating how to correctly use a face mask on social media this morning.
But if businesses involve face-to-face contact, they'll have to keep the doors closed. That includes gyms, house cleaners, hairdressers, sales people and masseuses. These, however, will be able to open under alert level 2 with the right measures.
"Customers cannot come on to your premises," Ardern said. "Unless you are a supermarket, dairy, petrol station, pharmacy or permitted health service.
"Your business must be contactless. Your customers can pay online, over the phone or in a contactless way. Delivery or pick-up must also be contactless."
Testing on the rise
Covid-19 testing has increased in the Rotorua Lakes District amid calls by health officials for people to be "ever-vigilant" to the risk.
A Lakes District Health Board spokeswoman said 148 people were swab tested at the two testing clinics in Rotorua and Taupo last week, which included 102 in Rotorua.
The week before, 58 tests were carried out in Rotorua and 33 in Taupō.
"There have been occasional queues of three or four cars at the testing clinics, but usually, people will be tested within 30 minutes of arriving," the spokeswoman said.
Across the two Lakes District Health Board testing clinics, 7511 people had been swab tested since March.