Understanding the COVID-19 Alert Levels

Alert level information last updated: 15 February 2021

As we continue to battle COVID-19 globally, New Zealand has adopted an alert level system to help contain and reduce the risks associated with COVID-19 in our own backyard.

If you’re having trouble understanding what the levels mean or you’ve simply forgotten what the new rules are, we’ve broken them down below.

Please note that the restrictions and guidelines in each level are subject to change. Refer to the COVID-19 website for more information.

At all alert levels, keep track of where you’ve been to assist with contact tracing. Stay at home if you are sick and report any flu-like symptoms.

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ALERT LEVEL 1 – PREPARE

At this phase, the disease is considered contained.

At Alert Level 1, people can return to work, school, sports, domestic travel, events and gatherings, without restrictions. The borders are controlled, including screening and testing, and there is a mandatory 14 day quarantine for incoming travellers.

Important:

Not included in March 2020 when the alert-levels were originally introduced, face coverings must now be worn on public transport in Auckland and on all domestic flights.

Face coverings legally must be worn:

  • on all public transport to, from and through Auckland — including on long-distance bus and train journeys, as well as Auckland ferries
  • on domestic flights throughout New Zealand
  • by Auckland taxi and ride-share drivers — while it’s not compulsory for passengers to wear them, we strongly encourage you to.

The basics of alert level-1:

  • Border restrictions remain in place. This includes 14-days managed isolation and mandatory testing for arrivals
  • Stay home if you are sick and get tested if you have symptoms
  • Social distancing: maintain a safe distance from others when you’re outside of your home
  • Maintain good hygiene: Keep up good handwashing practices, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and drying thoroughly. Cough and sneeze into your elbow. Keep surfaces clean.
  • Wear a face covering: Continuing good habits with face coverings will keep you and others safe, even at Alert Level 1. It helps stop droplets spreading when someone speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes. You legally must wear a face covering when you’re travelling on a domestic flight anywhere in New Zealand. This does not include private flights.
  • Use the tracer app: Keep a diary of wear you’ve been just in case there is an outbreak.
  • Gatherings: There are no restrictions on the number of people who can attend an event i.e. Wedding, funeral, birthday party etc.
  • Travelling: You can travel domestically freely.

ALERT LEVEL 2 – REDUCE

Disease is contained, but risk of community transmission

At Alert Level 2, you can go to work and school, but should follow public health measures and consider others around you.

Important:

  • As per alert level-1, face coverings must be worn
  • At level-2 there may be some situations where you need to self-isolate or go into a quarantine facility.
  • You can travel within your region but make sure you do safely
  • Travel to regions in alert level-3 is restricted. You can only travel to regions that are at level-2 or lower
  • No more than 100 people at social gatherings, including weddings, birthdays, funerals and tangihanga.
  • People at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are encouraged to take additional precautions when leaving home.

Basics of alert level-2:

  • Border restrictions remain in place. This includes 14-days managed isolation and mandatory testing for arrivals
  • Stay home if you are sick and get tested if you have symptoms.
  • Social distancing: maintain a safe distance from others when you’re outside of your home
  • Maintain good hygiene: Keep up good handwashing practices, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and drying thoroughly. Cough and sneeze into your elbow. Keep surfaces clean.
  • Wear a face covering: Continuing good habits with face coverings will keep you and others safe, even at Alert Level 1. It helps stop droplets spreading when someone speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes. You legally must wear a face covering when you’re travelling on a domestic flight anywhere in New Zealand. This does not include private flights.
  • Use the tracer app: Keep a diary of wear you’ve been just in case there is a wider outbreak.

ALERT LEVEL 3 – RESTRICT

There’s a heightened risk the disease is not contained

Stay home if you can to avoid any risk of spread. You must work from home unless you’re not able to. Children should learn at home if possible.

🎓 To help with homeschooling, we’ve put together a list of printable resources and at-home learning tips to make the transition easier. Check them out here.

Important:

  • You’re strongly encouraged to wear a face covering when you’re outside your home and in a place where it’s hard to stay 2 metres away from other people, like in shops.
  • If you have been told to self-isolate you legally must do so immediately.
  • If you get a COVID-19 test, you legally must stay home in self-isolation until you receive your results. Here is how this works.
  • At level-3, you legally must stay within your household bubble whenever you’re not at work or school. You can expand this to:
    • connect with close family and whānau
    • bring in caregivers, or
    • support isolated people.
  • Travel outside of your region is heavily restricted
  • Gatherings of up to 10 people can continue, but only for:
    • wedding services
    • funerals and tangihanga.

Basics of alert level-3:

  • Now is not the time to take up new activities, or expose yourself or your bubble to any risk. You can do low-risk recreation activities in your local area.
  • Public venues legally must close. This includes libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds and markets.
  • Border restrictions remain in place. This includes 14-days managed isolation and mandatory testing for arrivals
  • Stay home if you are sick and get tested if you have symptoms
  • Social distancing: maintain a safe distance from others when you’re outside of your home
  • Maintain good hygiene: Keep up good handwashing practices, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and drying thoroughly. Cough and sneeze into your elbow. Keep surfaces clean.
  • Wear a face covering: Continuing good habits with face coverings will keep you and others safe, even at Alert Level 1. It helps stop droplets spreading when someone speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes. You legally must wear a face covering when you’re travelling on a domestic flight anywhere in New Zealand. This does not include private flights.
  • Use the tracer app: Keep a diary of where you’ve been just in case there is an outbreak.
  • Travelling: Inter-regional travel is highly limited.

ALERT LEVEL 4 – LOCKDOWN

It’s likely that the disease is not contained

New Zealand may go into Alert Level 4 if it is likely COVID-19 is not contained, there is sustained and intensive community transmission of cases, and there are widespread outbreaks.

The rules for level-4 are subject to change based on how widespread COVID-19 is. The best source for up to date information at the time of a level-4 lockdown announcement is the Unite Against COVID-19 Government website.

🎓 To help with homeschooling, we’ve put together a list of printable resources and at-home learning tips to make the transition easier. Check them out here.

✨ Make sure you also take time for yourself while you navigate what we are sure is a stressful time. Check out some ideas here.

Range of measures that can be applied locally or nationally:

  • People are instructed to stay at home in their bubble other than for essential personal movement.
  • Safe recreational activity is allowed in local area.
  • Travel is severely limited.
  • All gatherings are cancelled and all public venues are closed.
  • Businesses are closed except for essential services – for example, supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics, petrol stations and lifeline utilities will stay open.
  • Educational facilities are closed.
  • Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities is possible.
  • Reprioritisation of healthcare services.

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