Alert system overview

New Zealand’s 4-level Alert System lists the measures to be taken against COVID-19 at each level.

New Zealand's Alert Levels are changing

At 12 noon on Wednesday 12 August, Auckland will move to Alert Level 3.

The rest of New Zealand will move to Alert Level 2.

More information

Update to Alert System guidance

The rest of this page has not yet been updated to include advice on wearing masks and the changes to New Zealand's Alert Levels.

COVID-19 Alert System

The Alert Level tables have not yet been updated to include information about wearing masks and movement between borders.

The Alert System was introduced in March 2020 to manage and minimise the risk of COVID-19 in New Zealand. The system helps people understand the current level of risk and the restrictions that must be followed. 

The measures may be updated on the basis of:

  • new scientific knowledge about COVID-19, and
  • information about the effectiveness of intervention measures in New Zealand and elsewhere.

The Alert Levels may be applied at a town, city, territorial local authority, regional or national level.

Summary table of the COVID-19 Alert Levels — updated 5 June 2020 [PDF, 1.4 MB]

Detailed table of the COVID-19 Alert Levels — updated 5 June 2020 [PDF, 1.7 MB]

What all Alert Levels have in common

At all levels, essential services including health services, emergency services, utilities and goods transport will remain up and running. Employers in those sectors must continue to meet their health and safety obligations.

At all levels, if there is another emergency, follow normal emergency procedures. Emergency evacuation orders will override COVID-19 Alert System requirements to stay at home.

Dates when different Alert Levels came into force

  • COVID-19 Alert Level 4 came into force at 11:59pm Wednesday 25 March 2020.
  • COVID-19 Alert Level 3 came into force at 11:59pm Monday 27 April 2020.
  • COVID-19 Alert Level 2 came into force at 11:59pm Wednesday 13 May 2020.
  • COVID-19 Alert Level 1 came into force at 11:59pm Monday 8 June 2020.

State of National Emergency

A State of National Emergency was declared due to COVID-19. It was in force between 12:21pm on 25 March 2020 and 12:21pm on Wednesday 13 May 2020.

It covered all of New Zealand including the Chatham Islands, Stewart Island and other offshore islands.

The declaration was made by the Minister of Civil Defence Hon Peeni Henare in consultation with the Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern following advice from the Director of CDEM.

Extensions to state of emergency

Under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, a state of emergency expires 7 days after it is declared unless it is terminated or extended.

The State of National Emergency was extended at:

  • 9:27am on 31 March 2020
  • 9:25am on 2 April 2020  
  • 12:21pm on 8 April 2020 
  • 12:21pm on 15 April 2020
  • 12:21pm on 22 April 2020
  • 12:21pm on 29 April 2020 
  • 12:21pm on 5 May 2020.

Alert Level 4 — Lockdown

Likely that disease is not contained.

Risk assessment

  • Community transmission is occurring.
  • Widespread outbreaks and new clusters.

Range of measures that can be applied locally or nationally

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

Alert Level 3 — Restrict

High risk the disease is not contained.

Risk assessment

  • Community transmission might be happening.
  • New clusters may emerge but can be controlled through testing and contact tracing.

Range of measures that can be applied locally or nationally

  • People instructed to stay home in their bubble other than for essential personal movement — including to go to work, school if they have to or for local recreation.
  • Physical distancing of 2 metres outside home including on public transport, or 1 metre in controlled environments like schools and workplaces.
  • Bubbles must stay within their immediate household bubble but can expand this to reconnect with close family/whānau, or bring in caregivers or support isolated people. This extended bubble should remain exclusive.
  • Schools between years 1 to 10 and Early Childhood Education centres can safely open but will have limited capacity. Children should learn at home if possible.
  • People must work from home unless that is not possible.
  • Businesses can open premises, but cannot physically interact with customers.
  • Low-risk local recreation activities are allowed.
  • Public venues are closed. This includes libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds, markets.
  • Gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed but only for wedding services, funerals and tangihanga. Physical distancing and public health measures must be maintained.
  • Healthcare services use virtual, non-contact consultations where possible.
  • Inter-regional travel is highly limited to, for example, essential workers, with limited exemptions for others.
  • People at high risk of severe illness such as older people and those with existing medical conditions are encouraged to stay at home where possible, and take additional precautions when leaving home. They may choose to work.

Alert Level 2 — Reduce

The disease is contained, but the risk of community transmission remains.

Risk assessment

  • Household transmission could be occurring.
  • Single or isolated cluster outbreaks.

Range of measures that can be applied locally or nationally

  • People can reconnect with friends and family, and socialise in groups of up to 100, go shopping or travel domestically if following public health guidance.
  • Keep physical distancing of 2 metres from people you don’t know when out in public or in retail stores. Keep 1 metre physical distancing in controlled environments like workplaces, where practical.
  • No more than 100 people at gatherings, including weddings, birthdays, funerals and tangihanga. 
  • Businesses can open to the public if following public health guidance including physical distancing and record keeping. Alternative ways of working are encouraged where possible.
  • Hospitality businesses must keep groups of customers separated, seated and served by a single person.
  • Maximum of 100 people at a time in a defined space.
  • Sport and recreation activities are allowed, subject to conditions on gatherings, record keeping, and physical distancing where practical.
  • Public venues such as museums, libraries and pools can open if they comply with public health measures and ensure 1 metre physical distancing and record keeping.
  • Event facilities, including cinemas, stadiums, concert venues and casinos can have more than 100 people at a time, provided there are no more than 100 in a defined space, and the groups do not mix.
  • Health and disability care services operate as normally as possible.
  • It is safe to send your children to schools, early learning services and tertiary education. There will be appropriate measures in place.
  • People at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, for example those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled, and older people, are encouraged to take additional precautions when leaving home. They may work if they agree with their employer that they can do so safely.

Alert Level 1 — Prepare

The disease is contained in New Zealand.

Risk assessment

  • COVID-19 is uncontrolled overseas.
  • Isolated household transmission could be occurring in New Zealand.

Range of measures that can be applied locally or nationally

  • Border entry measures to minimise risk of importing COVID-19 cases.
  • Intensive testing for COVID-19.
  • Rapid contact tracing of any positive case.
  • Self-isolation and quarantine required.
  • Schools and workplaces open, and must operate safely.
  • No restrictions on personal movement but people are encouraged to maintain a record of where they have been.
  • No restrictions on gatherings but organisers encouraged to maintain records to enable contact tracing.
  • Stay home if you’re sick, report flu-like symptoms.
  • Wash and dry your hands, cough into your elbow, don’t touch your face.
  • No restrictions on domestic transport — avoid public transport or travel if you're sick.
  • No restrictions on workplaces or services but they are encouraged to maintain records to enable contact tracing.

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