A public health expert says the Bay of Plenty "dodged a bullet" after a Covid-19 scare in Katikati over the weekend.
But the district's mayor says the region can't afford to let its guard down.
In the 4pm press conference today, Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the Katikati person was no longer considered a Covid-19 case after twice testing negative. Locations of interest in Katikati were being removed.
The Government also announced tentative plans to move Waikato and Northland to level 2 at 11.59pm on Thursday, and that vaccinations would be made mandatory for health and education workers nationwide.
The Covid scare in Katikati prompted a vaccination surge in the Western Bay.
Toi Te Ora Public Health said 1944 people had the jab in the district over the weekend, an increase of 70 per cent on the previous weekend.
Medical officer of health Dr Bruce Duncan attributed the rise to the pop-up vaccination centre that ran on Sunday after the suspected Covid case was made public on Saturday evening. There was also a rise in vaccination walk-ins at three Tauranga pharmacies.
He said Toi Te Ora would be investigating the cause of the positive test on Saturday, and thanked the person, their family and all those who got a test for their co-operation.
University of Waikato professor of public health Ross Lawrenson said the close call in Katikati was a reminder that the virus could spread easily.
"I think we're all at risk that at any time somebody will pick up the virus and won't know about it," he said.
"The Bay of Plenty has dodged a bullet but [the virus] could return. If everyone remains vigilant then hopefully we can keep things under control."
Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber urged people to get vaccinated: "If you're not vaccinated, you're vulnerable.
"The negative test coming through is no reason to take a sigh of relief. It still requires our community to go out and get vaccinated because that's the only way we're going to get ahead of this pandemic."
Webber had high praise for locals who got tested and vaccinated on Sunday and for the person with the positive test for their tracer app use and getting tested.
"That person did everything that you would expect a good citizen should do and they should be patted on the back rather than vilified," Webber said.
Te Manu Toroa mobile vaccination co-ordinator Chris Jacob said there had been an increase in Katikati locals wanting the vaccine.
The service visits Katikati fortnightly, operating out of the Katikati Baptist Church, and vaccinators would be back tomorrow afternoon.
"[The case gave] everyone a scare but it has convinced people the virus is real and it can come here. That's the only positive that's come out of this," Jacob said.
"We're doing a bit of a late-night for the community, between 1.30pm and 6.30pm or as long as we have to be until we get through the vaccinations."
Testing stations opened at Katikati Medical Centre, Katikati rugby and sports clubrooms, and at Tauranga Accident and HealthCare on Sunday. A vaccination clinic in the Katikati RSA and Citizens Club also operated.
Jacob estimated that between 700 and 900 people received a Covid-19 test on Sunday in Katikati.
"It was a huge amount of people. The community is taking Covid-19 seriously and listening to the advice to get tested," he said.
"Like many other rural parts of the country, we all see this play out but you never think it's going to come into your little part of town."
University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said positive cases that later return negative were often historical cases.
People can return positive results for months. In one instance, a New Zealander returned a positive case eight months later, he said. It was not clear if the Katikati case had previously had Covid-19.
Baker said the Katikati scare emphasised the importance of getting vaccinated.
"The current outbreak has had a major stimulus effect on vaccine uptake in New Zealand," he said.
"Obviously we don't want it here but that is one of the positive effects. People realise it's a real threat and you do need to get vaccinated as the key action."
Norma Wigg was one of the people who got tested in Katikati on Sunday. She said it was "a great relief" that the original case has since tested negative.
Wigg is fully vaccinated but wanted reassurance from the test to make sure "all was well".
Health and education sector leaders in the Bay were awaiting more detail on the newly announced mandatory vaccinations.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the deadline for health and disability workers to become fully vaccinated is December 1 this year, while all staff at schools and ECEs who have contact with children and students will need to have both doses by January 1. A full list of roles the mandate would apply to is expected in the next few days.
Rotorua Principals Association president Gary Veysi said at this stage it was a "what if" situation. He wanted certainty around how schools would be able to determine whether staff had been double vaccinated from next year.
Veysi, who is also the Mamaku School principal, said the mandate was the "only way" to return to normal teaching and learning.
Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association president Suzanne Billington said principals were awaiting further detail on the mandate from the Ministry of Education.
Three Lakes Medical Clinic general practitioner Dr Cate Mills said while she understood the Government's decision, it was a "pretty tough call" regarding personal choice.
She said it was important to the viability of the health sector and to "really protect" healthcare workers.
Tauranga's Fifth Avenue pharmacy owner Stuart MacDonald said he believed every healthcare worker should be vaccinated, but he expected there would be a kickback from a "small subsection" of individual pharmacists.
All pharmacists within his business were already fully vaccinated, he said.