Jacinda Ardern confirms Auckland move to Level 2

The Government has confirmed Auckland will leave Level 3 overnight as planned, despite concerns from some epidemiologists about ongoing cases of community transmission

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has warned Aucklanders against complacency as the city prepares to move back into Level 2, saying compliance with the strict rules is essential to preventing the spread of Covid-19 in the community.

Ardern has also expressed her anger at officials incorrectly telling all people in South Auckland and West Auckland to get a Covid-19 test even if they had no symptoms, saying the advice was wrong and undermined the clarity of government messaging.

Auckland will move out of Level 3 at 11.59pm on Sunday, having been under greater restrictions than the rest of the country since August 13.

Some epidemiologists and medical experts like Shaun Hendy had encouraged the Government to prolong Auckland's stay at the higher alert level, given the risks of the outbreak growing if Aucklanders returned to a more normal pattern of life.

However, Ardern said the city was still dealing with a single cluster of a single origin, and health officials had anticipated being able to handle such an outbreak at Level 2.

"Our system is good, it is designed to keep us on track with our elimination strategy at Level 2 in the scenario we now have but it will only work if people follow the guidance...

"There is no corner that has been untouched by this cluster, that’s why the rules are for everyone and we need everyone in Auckland to stick to them, no matter where you are."

While masks will become mandatory on public transport, their use is not required in indoor workplaces or other gatherings. However, Ardern urged Aucklanders to wear masks wherever possible when stepping outside their homes, and said the Cabinet had not ruled out a wider mandate if there was not sufficient voluntary use.

Ardern also addressed an incorrect message on Unite Against Covid-19's social media platforms urging all people in South Auckland and West Auckland to undergo a test even if they were asymptomatic, saying it was "oversimplified communication" which had not been helpful.

"For me, it’s caused me to be incredibly angry. We have to be very clear in our communication, we have to be very direct in our asks."

The Government was now working with the community to correct the damage from the inaccurate messages, she said.

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