COVID-19 Alert System

New Zealand's four-level COVID-19 Alert System specifies public health and social measures to be taken against COVID-19.

New Zealand is currently at Level 4. 

Find out what our current level means for you

COVID-19 Alert System

The alert system means people can see and plan for the kinds of restrictions we may be required to put in place. This includes increasing or decreasing limits on human contact, travel and business operations.

Download a table of the COVID-19 Alert Levels [PDF, 50 KB](external link)

The alert levels tell us all what public health and social measures need to be taken.

The measures may be updated on the basis of: 1). new scientific knowledge about COVID-19 and 2). 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.

Different parts of the country may be at different alert levels.

We can also move up and down alert levels.

In general, the alert levels are cumulative, eg Level 1 is a base-level response. Always prepare for the next level.

At all levels, health services, emergency services, utilities and goods transport, and other essential services, operations and staff, are expected to remain up and running. Employers in those sectors must continue to meet their health and safety obligations.

The public will notice an increased Police presence with a focus on prevention, through education and encouragement. Level 4 restrictions will only be enforced if required.

Level 4 Eliminate

Likely that disease is not contained.

Risk assessment

  • Sustained and intensive transmission
  • Widespread outbreaks.

Range of measures

These can all be applied locally or nationally:

  • people instructed to stay at home
  • educational facilities closed
  • businesses closed except for essential services (eg supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics) and lifeline utilities
  • rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities
  • travel severely limited
  • major reprioritisation of healthcare services.

Level 3 Restrict

Heightened risk that disease is not contained.

Risk assessment

  • Community transmission occurring OR
  • Multiple clusters break out.

Range of measures

These can all be applied locally or nationally:

  • travel in areas with clusters or community transmission limited
  • affected educational facilities closed
  • mass gatherings cancelled
  • public venues closed (eg libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, amusement parks)
  • alternative ways of working required and some non-essential businesses should close
  • non face-to-face primary care consultations
  • non acute (elective) services and procedures in hospitals deferred and healthcare staff reprioritised.

Level 2 Reduce

Disease is contained, but risks of community transmission growing.

Risk assessment

  • High risk of importing COVID-19 OR
  • Increase in imported cases OR
  • Increase in household transmission OR
  • Single or isolated cluster outbreak.

Range of measures

These can all be applied locally or nationally:

  • entry border measures maximised
  • further restrictions on mass gatherings
  • physical distancing on public transport (eg leave the seat next to you empty if you can)
  • limit non-essential travel around New Zealand
  • employers start alternative ways of working if possible (eg remote working, shift-based working, physical distancing within the workplace, staggering meal breaks, flexible leave arrangements)
  • business continuity plans activated
  • high-risk people advised to remain at home (eg those over 70 or those with other existing medical conditions).

Level 1 Prepare

Disease is contained.

Risk assessment

  • Heightened risk of importing COVID-19 OR
  • Sporadic imported cases OR
  • Isolated household transmission associated with imported cases.

Range of measures

These can all be applied locally or nationally:

  • border entry measures to minimise risk of importing COVID-19 cases applied
  • contact tracing
  • stringent self-isolation and quarantine
  • intensive testing for COVID-19
  • physical distancing encouraged
  • mass gatherings over 500 cancelled
  • stay home if you’re sick, report flu-like symptoms
  • wash and dry hands, cough into elbow, don’t touch your face.

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