Auckland will remain in alert level three for a full two weeks, with the government announcing that the country will remain at current Covid-19 alert levels for 12 more days.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield have announced the decision at a briefing at the Beehive theatrette

Ardern said Cabinet had unanimously decided today that the country will remain at the current alert levels.

“Auckland will remain at level 3 and New Zealand will remain at level 2 … until 11.59pm 26 August.”

But she said the settings would be reviewed on 21 August.

“There is nothing to suggest we need to move to a level 4 lockdown at this stage.”

Ardern said construction would continue and hospitality services would continue under the existing level 3 operating protocols.

“Cabinet also does not want Auckland to be in level 3 any longer than is needed to ensure the outbreak is contained.

“The best economic response is a strong health response.”

Ardern said if it was found over the next seven days that the perimeter of the cluster was found, there would be time in the rest of alert level 3 to consider the situation.

“We have had a number of theories [about the source] that we have tried to chase down and we will continue to pursue.”

Ardern said closing the cluster did not mean the source had to be found – that had been demonstrated overseas.

“It is heartening to see at this stage that linkage between all the cases. If you make a wrong move with Covid you can see the long term impact of that, and Australia has demonstrated that so we are looking to the experiences of others to inform our decision making.

“Hong Kong or the likes of Australia where they have taken a little more time, and existed with a more open environment while they’ve determined the perimeter of an outbreak, our view is it’s better to assess that with restrictions in place so we can get back to freedom faster.”

A decision on moving the rest of the country out of level 2 would be made at the same time as choosing to move levels in Auckland.

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