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Kiwis will today find out whether there are any remaining restrictions in alert level 1 after Cabinet moved to expedite its decision on a further easing of the rules.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand could be in the laxest of levels by next Wednesday, saying the efforts of the "team of five million" had put the country ahead of schedule.

Under alert level 1, there'd be no restrictions on gatherings and Ardern said life would be "very, very normal" - but with border restrictions.


Modelling had shown a longer-tail of Covid-19 cases which so far had not eventuated and Ardern said there was "increasing optimism" there were no cases associated with the move to alert level 2.

"Our strategy of going hard and early has paid off and in some cases, exceeded expectation in what modelling and data had predicted.

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"Therefore, because of our team of five million's extraordinary commitment to beating Covid, that means we have the enviable position of having choices."

Ardern said Cabinet's decision to assess the alert level status next week was a consensus, but there was an "alternative view" presented.

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Before yesterday's Cabinet meeting, Winston Peters publicly agitated for a fast return to alert level 1 given the lack of compliance with the rules at the Black Lives Matter protests.

After the meeting, Peters said he'd always had a good relationship with Ardern, including now.

"It's called respect and it's a coalition Government and we get on just fine.


"This is not an emotional matter, it's about shaking someone's hand and keeping your word."

National party leader Todd Muller said the dissenting messages between the Prime Minister and her deputy were confusing but would not himself say when New Zealand should move down levels.

"Ultimately, that is the advice that has to be discerned by the Cabinet," he said.

Act party leader David Seymour also wanted New Zealand to be at level 1.

"Why should people up and down the country follow the law, at great cost to themselves, when you've got a couple of thousand people there who obviously don't give a crap?"

Seymour said Ardern should have used her "vaunted communication skills" to send a message the protests were unacceptable.

It comes as Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford revealed he's approved six more applications for economic border exemptions for 47 foreigners.

Avatar producer Jon Landau with director James Cameron after they touched down in New Zealand at the weekend. Photo / Instagram
Avatar producer Jon Landau with director James Cameron after they touched down in New Zealand at the weekend. Photo / Instagram

At the weekend 57 film crew touched down in an Air New Zealand Boeing Dreamliner on Sunday, and went into isolation for two weeks at Wellington's QT Hotel.

Another unnamed film production, which the Herald understand is not Amazon's Lord of the Rings series, has also been granted exemptions.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said both productions would provide jobs for about 600 New Zealanders and were time-sensitive.

"In the event that the exception applications had not been approved, the two productions would have remained in hibernation, leaving the New Zealanders working on these projects without work," said general manager of essential services, Iain Cossar.

"For one of the productions, there was a real possibility that it would not have been able to be completed as key cast are committed to future projects."

The Ministry of Health is overseeing the managed isolation of the film crew in Wellington with Regional Public Health and told the Herald security staff were onsite 24/7 to ensure there were no breaches.

Twyford said the cost of the quarantine was at the expense of the production company.

In total, 201 people have been granted "other essential worker" exemptions on economic grounds.

Exemptions were considered on a case-by-case basis and had to met the "pretty stringent criteria", including being for a position that relied on a highly unusual talent or skill, time critical and for a project of high economic value, said Twyford.