Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Level 3 is imminent for parts of NZ – but what does it actually change?

Millions of Kiwis are waiting on tenterhooks for this afternoon’s announcement about whether their region will be released from the Covid-19 national lockdown.

But if areas free of community cases of the deadly and swift-moving Delta variant do have their restrictions loosened – will life actually change much?

The answer is, not really.

Under the current lockdown rules every person must stay home if they can – and must only leave for essential supplies, work or exercise.

Travel is heavily restricted and only approved businesses can operate.

If the South Island and Delta-free parts of the North Island are moved down a level this afternoon there will be slightly more freedom under the current government Covid-19 rules.

However those rules can and could be tightened.


As they stand currently, at alert level 3 people must legally stay within their household bubble whenever they are not at work or school.

Bubbles can be expanded to connect with close family and whānau or to bring in caregivers, or support isolated people.

Masks are still mandatory in all public places and everyone over the age of 12 legally must continue to keep a record of where they have been when visiting certain places so contact tracing can happen quickly.

Physical distancing must continue to be maintained and travel is still limited – you can travel within your local area for supplies and exercise but that’s it.

“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,” the government urges.


Travel between regions will remain heavily restricted and if there is a boundary put in place by the government, that information will be made public and published on the Unite against Covid-19 official website.

Public spaces remain closed – libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds and markets.

Public events and venues also remain banned and closed.

But gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed for wedding and civil union ceremonies, funerals and tangihanga.

Physical distancing and public health measures legally must be maintained at such events.


Cafes, restaurants and takeaways can open at alert level 3, but only for contactless pick-up, delivery or drive through.

You cannot go in to dine.

Food delivery services, such as Delivereasy and Uber Eats, can also operate at alert level 3.

Liquor stores can only offer contactless pick-up and delivery – if their liquor licence allows delivery.

Nightclubs and bars must stay closed.


To keep workers and customers safe there are still strict rules for businesses at alert level 3.

The government still recommends staff work from home if they can.

And – if your business requires close physical contact it cannot operate.

Businesses need to display a QR code and have an alternative contact tracing system.

Customers cannot come on to your premises — unless you are a supermarket, dairy, butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer, petrol station, pharmacy or permitted health service.

Your business legally must be contactless. Your customers can pay online, over the phone or in a contactless way. Delivery or pick-up legally must also be contactless.

Basic hygiene measures legally must be maintained – physical distancing, hand washing and regularly cleaning surfaces.

Workers legally must stay home if they are sick.

Staff legally must remain a minimum of 1 metre apart at all times where practical.

Other measures, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) including face coverings, are recommended as being used where appropriate.


Children and young people should learn from home at alert level 3.

Any child who does not have supervision at home from an appropriate person can attend their service or school.


At alert level 3, priests, imam and religious celebrants can provide last rites in a hospital, hospice or private residence and funerals can be officiated by your imam.

Funeral directors will work closely with Muslim communities to support ghusl (ritual washing) and janaza (prayer over the body) being carried out safely.

As per the rules though, just 10 people can attend the funeral.

If you need to travel into or out of a region for a funeral or tangihanga you will need to apply for an exemption.

Kiwis can visit a cemetery in their region, if you can do so safely while keeping two metres away from people not in your bubble.

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