September 14, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

Auckland will remain in New Zealand’s highest level of COVID-19 lockdown for another week, with Government officials agreeing “in principle” that the nation’s largest city will move to a level 3 lockdown at the end of next Tuesday.

“Level 4 remains our best option to beat Delta and contain the virus at this stage of the outbreak, and we don’t want to risk the sacrifices everyone has made and all the hard work you’ve put in by moving to alert level 3 too quickly,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the media yesterday.

There were 33 new locally acquired cases reported yesterday in Auckland, bringing the total in the current outbreak to 955.

Ardern also confirmed the rest of New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 2 restrictions for another week.

No events are permitted at Alert Level 4, while only 50 people can gather in a single indoor space at Alert Level 2, after restrictions at this level were further tightened during this outbreak.

In a memo to members late last night, Business Events Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive Lisa Hopkins highlighted the challenges ahead.

“Our next goal is to protect Alert Level 1 from becoming a form of Delta Level 1. Normal Alert Level 2 is doable, Delta Level 2 is extremely hard. Normal Alert Level 1 is sacred. I have reminded all Ministers of this and will continue to do so.”

She also said she had “less confidence” in targeted support being made available as Auckland moves down alert levels.

By the time Auckland moves to level 3 next Wednesday – assuming everything goes as planned – the city will have been in a strict lockdown for over a month, after a community case identified on August 17 sent the whole country into lockdown at midnight that night.