PM is now live. Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield make decisions for Auckland and Northland.

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Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are scheduled to announce alert level choices for Auckland and Northland.

Watch live from about 4pm:

Ardern announced on Friday that New Zealand south of the Auckland boundary would be moving to alert level 3 from 11.59pm on Tuesday. Cabinet confirmed this decision today and Ardern says this will be for at least a week.

Northland will likely join the rest of the country at alert level three from 11:59pm on Thursday, Ardern says.

Cabinet has also confirmed Auckland will remain at alert level four until 14 September. Cabinet will consider next steps for the region on 13 September.

Ardern says level 4 “is making a difference”.

“The job is not yet done and we do need to keep going.”

Experts have been welcoming signs that the lockdown has been curbing the spread of the Delta variant, and with new case numbers dropping to 53 today – down from a high of 83 new cases yesterday – the government will have some extra confidence in its decision to lower alert levels in wider New Zealand.

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Speaking about today’s case numbers, Bloomfield says while it is 30 fewer cases than yesterday, it is just one data point. However, he says 52 percent of the 83 cases reported yesterday were household transmission, and 72 percent did not create any new exposure events.

“So of those cases reported yesterday … only 28 percent are considered to have been infectious in the community, which may simply have been a visit to a supermarket … or may be an essential worker.

He says 101 of the total cases are essential workers, just four of them who have been infectious in the workplace and seven who were infected in the workplace.

All of the new cases announced today were detected in Auckland.

Ardern stated on Friday that Northland was being included with the city due to a recent case in Warkworth and that the government was concerned about northbound journeys, but that it was unlikely to be retained in the same position as Auckland in the long run.

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Meanwhile, Ayesha Verrall, Associate Minister of Health, has criticised the Bay of Plenty District Health Board (DHB) for requiring Pacific people to present their passports during Covid-19 vaccine appointments.

The DHB apologised Friday night for the move, admitting that it was neither a policy nor a requirement, and that it had harmed trust and confidence within its Pacific populations.

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