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Toby Morris
Toby Morris

BusinessSeptember 7, 2021

The alert level two rules have changed for delta – here’s what you need to know

Toby Morris
Toby Morris

Call it level 2.5, level two-plus or ‘delta two’, some of the rules have changed. We run through those, and the rest of the level two requirements, in our bumper guide.

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Which parts of New Zealand move to alert level two, and when?

Everywhere except the wider Auckland region moves from level three to level two as of 11.59pm on Tuesday September 7.

Should I call it alert level two or delta two or level 2.5 or level two-plus?


When can the Auckland region expect to move to alert-level-delta-two-point-five-plus?

Cabinet will meet on Monday September 13 to discuss any move (including for the rest of the country), but no change will happen before 11.59pm on Tuesday September 14. And to be honest if there’s a shift for Auckland, it’s likely only to be to level three (see here).

What is different in this new delta level two to ye olde level two?

The key differences concern mask use, keeping a record of where you go, and new rules around gatherings and venues.

Let’s start with masks.

Face coverings are now mandatory for everyone 12 and over when you go into shops, supermarkets, malls, cafes, restaurants, bars, libraries, museums and so on. Anyone on staff who interacts with customers, mask up. As before, they’re required on public transport, flights, taxis, Ubers. Also: when visiting healthcare or aged care facilities. 



Do I need to wear a mask while I’m eating?

You do not need to massage your custard square through your mask into your gob. Masks can and should be taken off when you’re eating or drinking.

And record keeping?

If you’re 12 or older you’re now required to keep a record of most visits: to restaurants, bars, cinemas, concerts, churches, hairdressers and anywhere else you might come into close contact with people. The Covid Tracer app is the simplest, but there are alternatives, including a pen and paper. The legal obligation falls on the the person responsible for the business or service to ensure it happens.


Not part of the legal mandate for record keeping, but you might as well.

And the new rules for gatherings?

The new level two rules put a cap of 50 people on indoor gatherings. The same applies for cafes, bars, restaurants, clubs and events. If it’s outdoor, the maximum is 100 people.

Anything else?

Yes. In public places where the 50 limit doesn’t apply, like shops, libraries and museums – and gyms! – the rules have doubled the social distancing requirement, from one to two metres away from people who are not in your bubble. 


Because of what is now known about the way the virus transmits, especially inside (it’s airborne, floating through the air like your breath on an icy day).

But bubbles can merge?

Yes. There are no longer limitations on who can join your household bubbles, assuming you’re not bubbling bigger than 50. 

And businesses can reopen?

All workplaces and businesses can reopen. Working at home is still “encouraged” but that’s it. DIstancing is required, and, as you know already, hygiene measures and QR codes for scanning.

And within the 50-max rule, hospitality can resume?

Yes, though there are the pre-existing rules. Remember the “four S’s” thing?


No. That never did quite catch on. They apply to hospitality. Specifically, you need to be seated, to be separated from people who aren’t in your group, and there has to be a single server per table

Do schools reopen?

Yes, from Thursday September 9. Students are encouraged, but not obliged, to wear masks when they can.

What about early learning centres, universities and other tertiary education?

Open. There are a bunch of rules around distancing and hygiene. Check with your friendly local institution.

What about weddings? What about tangihanga and funerals?

Up to 50 people can attend if it’s indoors. Up to 100 if outdoors.

Church services and other religious services and ceremonies?

Up to 50 people can attend events at places of worship, or up to 100 if it’s outside. That number doesn’t include staff involved in running the service. Two- metre distancing is required.

Professional sport?

As long as they’re operating “in controlled workplaces”, yup. There won’t be crowds, though. 

And local sport?

As long as you’re sticking to the gathering rules: up to 50 people at indoor venues and 100 outdoors.




Open. For children, mostly.

Domestic cleaners?

Go ahead.



Walking, biking, hunting?




Hospitals, doctors, health and disability care services more generally?

Back to normal as far as possible. Remote consultations will remain in many cases. 


Absolutely. Do it.

Covid tests?

Of course. If in doubt, get one. Please.

Can I visit people in hospital?

Probably. Check first.

Rest home visits?

Visits to most retirement homes and aged care facilities will begin to return to normal, but there will be restrictions. Call ahead, obviously.

Can I travel within level two?

You can, as long as you keep to distancing and hygiene rules. If you have disposable income, dispose of it generously in tourism, hospitality, among local businesses. 

What about courts and jury trials?

Jury trials in the District Court resume under level two. But judges will decide on a case-by-case basis whether a trial can go ahead. Check the Ministry of Justice site or call. Jury trials will begin in the High Court on Monday September 20 at the earliest.

Remind me, what is the wider Auckland region?

The same as the boundary that was already separating levels four and three. It looks roughly like this …

… and you can check your address using the spirit level here.

What are the rules for crossing the boundary, or border, or frontier, or whatever we’re calling it?

If your workplace, business or service can operate in level four, you can travel across the boundary as part of your work (eg truck drivers carrying goods for essential supply chains). If it’s personal travel, you can seek approval to cross the boundary to access health services, emergencies, shared childcare arrangements, and various other things. 

You’ll probably need official travel documents to get cleared at the checkpoint; In all cases, check the official information (some of which was incomplete at the time of writing) before you set off. 

Do I need to take a Covid test before travelling across the level-border?

A new rule means that workers crossing the boundaries for permitted travel will be required to provide evidence of a negative test taken within seven days, the Ministry of Heatlh has announced. The requirement will kick in from 11:59pm on Thursday September 9.

How’s that going to be checked?

The finer points were still being finalised as of Tuesday morning. But an email or text message confirming a negative test within the last seven days is likely to do it. There will apparently be spot checks. 

How many people will that affect?

About 3,000 essential workers have been crossing between levels daily.

What about people travelling for personal reasons?

Says the ministry: “Individuals who are travelling for permitted personal reasons should also be tested – noting this travel is often for urgent reasons and getting a test in time may not always be possible.”

Can you drive through Auckland if you’re traveling from Northland to south of Auckland or vice versa?

As long as Auckland is at level four, the default is no. There are a few strictly limited exceptions for travel through Auckland or transferring at Auckland Airport. Check the official site. Going on holiday is not a permitted reason for level two residents to travel into, out of or through Auckland.

If I’m a level two resident can I holiday in other parts of level two as long as I don’t go through Auckland?

Yes. There’s even a limited-time-only Wellington to Kerikeri flight on offer from Air NZ.

Is Ashley Bloomfield hoping to build a very big wall, the biggest wall, believe me, and make Auckland pay for it?

There is no evidence to suggest this is his intention, no.

The primary source for this post is the Unite Against Covid-19 site. It has been corrected to note the legal obligation for record keeping falls on the venue and clarify rules on travelling via Auckland.

Keep going!