blog nov 22


End in sight for Auckland lockdown

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 22 – and welcome to the fancy new live updates feed! I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Get in touch with me on

What you need to know

Still confused about the new traffic light rules? Read our handy explainer here.

blog nov 22

End in sight for Auckland lockdown

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 22 – and welcome to the fancy new live updates feed! I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Get in touch with me on

What you need to know

Still confused about the new traffic light rules? Read our handy explainer here.

Nov 22 2021

Hairdressers to reopen in Auckland this week


A trial run of the government’s vaccine pass will allow for hairdressers in Auckland to reopen ahead of the traffic light system commencing.

The traffic light framework will officially launch at 11.59pm on December 2.

However, Jacinda Ardern has announced that hairdressers and barbers will be allowed to open this Thursday, November 25 if they operate with vaccine passes. This means fully vaccinated Aucklanders can get their hair cut so long as they present their My Vaccine Pass. No walk-ins will be allowed, with bookings required.

“Those businesses that participate in the trial must operate with vaccine passes, take bookings only, and all staff must be fully vaccinated,” said Ardern.

Hairdressers were chosen because out of businesses closed currently, Ardern said they posed the lowest risk by reopening. Numbers are restrained by the number of chairs and staff and one metre distancing is not hard. “It offers us a decent trial of the vaccine pass before November 29,” said Ardern.

“We’re fast approaching the next phase in our Covid response that delivers more freedoms and recognises the hard work Kiwis have done to get vaccinated.”

(Image / Getty Images)

Confirmed: Traffic light system to begin on December 3

Image: Archi Banal


The entire country will move into the new traffic light system at 11.59pm on Thursday, December 2 – marking the end of Auckland’s lockdown after more than 100 days.

Auckland will enter the framework at the strictest setting of “red”, although decisions on the colours each other region will move into will be confirmed on November 29.

Tomorrow the verifier app will launch for businesses that require proof of a vaccine pass to operate at the traffic light system. It won’t be mandated but it’s a very useful tool.

Read more: What you need to know about the move to the traffic light system

Speaking at parliament, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said the decision to announce the date today was to ensure certainty for businesses. “The hard truth is that delta is here and it’s not going away,” said Ardern. “New Zealand is better positioned than most to tackle it because of our high vaccine rate and the in-built protections [of the traffic light system].”

Setting the date now gives people, communities and businesses time to prepare to move safely and smoothly into the new traffic light system, added Ardern.

Sector guidance for business and other organisations will be released later this week. “While life will feel relatively normal under the new system, which is simpler and safer than the alert levels, it’s time to get prepared to move,” said Ardern. “The number one thing New Zealanders can do is get vaccinated, because the key difference between the two systems is that vaccine passes will shortly be required at places like bars, gyms and restaurants.”

The new ‘traffic light’ framework for NZ’s Covid response will replace the alert level system. Image: Archi Banal

Watch: Ardern and Bloomfield to speak

Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield will front today’s post-cabinet press conference, a week out from the crucial cabinet decision on when to shift the country into the traffic light system.

Media reports suggest an announcement could also be on the way for hairdressers and beauty salons to open their doors early as part of a trial run for the new vaccine passes.

We’ll have live coverage from 4pm or tune in below.


Lowest day for vaccinations since July

There were just 9,851 vaccine doses administered yesterday, made up of 3,079 first doses and 6,772 second doses. That makes it the lowest overall day for vaccines since July 18 (excluding the day we moved into lockdown), when around 8,000 doses were administered. As you can see in the chart below, weekends are typically much lower than weekdays – with the exception of Super Saturday on October 16.

To date, 91% of eligible people in New Zealand have had their first dose and 83% are fully vaccinated.

Want to know how your DHB is tracking a week out from the traffic light announcement? Take a look at our interactive chart below. For more, visit The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker here.

Covid-patient in his 40s dies at Middlemore Hospital


A man in his 40s with Covid-19 has died at Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital.

The Ministry of Health said “no further information” would be released to the public until conversations with the man’s family have concluded.

The ministry is now listing 40 people with Covid-19 who have died in New Zealand, although not all of these deaths have been definitively linked to the virus.

205 new cases of Covid-19 across the North Island


There are 205 new cases of Covid-19 across the North Island.

Of those, 175 are in Auckland, 20 are in Waikato, four are in Northland, five in Bay of Plenty and one is in the Lakes DHB area.

There is also one new case in Palmerston North, linked to a previous case, which will be included in tomorrow’s official tally. “Anyone in the Pahiatua area who has even the mildest of Covid symptoms is encouraged to have a Covid swab given the positive wastewater results on November 15, 16 and 18,” said the Ministry of Health.

There are currently 85 people in hospital with Covid-19, including six in intensive care.

There is also one more Covid-related death to report: a man in his 40s who died at Middlemore Hospital.

Today’s case details

There are 20 new cases being reported in Waikato today. Testing sites are operating across Waikato today in Hamilton, Ôtorohanga, Huntly, Thames, Te Kûiti, Tokoroa, and Putāruru.

There were 2,106 tests processed in Waikato yesterday and 639 vaccinations. Yesterday, the region passed 90% of the eligible population having had their first dose.

There are five new cases being reported in the Bay of Plenty today. Four of these cases are linked to existing cases in Mount Manganui. Investigations are underway into any possible links between the remaining case and any known cases.

The new case in the Lakes are is in Taupō and is a close contact of a known case.

There are four new cases in Northland being reported today. Three of these are in Kaikohe and are linked to an existing case. The fourth case is a border worker who has not yet been linked to a known case. “Public health officials are today interviewing this case to determine whether they are a community or a border-related case, and to identify any locations of interest,” said the ministry.

A message from the editor

Like any good door-to-door salesperson, I’m about to cheerily introduce myself and then, in the very next breath, ask you for money. Hi! I’m Madeleine (or Mad) Chapman, previously an intern at The Spinoff, then a staff writer, senior writer and now editor. It certainly wasn’t the plan to step into this role in the middle of a delta outbreak, nor did I think my first weeks on the job would unfold alongside New Zealand’s largest city slowly coming out of stagnation. But despite the strange and unfortunate circumstances, The Spinoff team has stepped up once again, working tirelessly (and mostly from our bedrooms) to bring you the most important news when you need it, and the lighter moments when things are looking a little bleak. We’ve been able to continue this work because of the ongoing contributions from our members, and I can’t thank you enough.

But I can boldly ask that you consider becoming a member if you aren’t one already. If you’ve read something on our site recently that you enjoyed or appreciated, consider it a koha for that alone, because every dollar donated through The Spinoff Members is used to create more of the work you see every day. And with Christmas around the corner (which I’m finding genuinely hard to believe), there’s no such thing as shipping delays on a membership of The Spinoff bought for whānau and friends.

Covid-19 numbers due via written statement at 1pm

As always for a Monday, we’re expecting today’s Covid-19 update to come via a written statement from the Ministry of Health around 1pm.

I’ll have all the details for you as soon as they land.

Yesterday saw new cases of delta reported in Bay of Plenty and Waikato leading to a handful of new locations of interest in the regions.

Keep the live updates feed nice and refreshed to get everything you need to know from around 1pm.

An incredibly wholesome video of Adele

Look, I know this is hardly breaking news but The Spinoff’s had a redesign and I’m feeling joyful. Plus, this is my live feed and I’ll use it for what I want.

Adele released her fourth album 30 last week to rave reviews. It’s incredible. As part of promoting the album, the pop star made a one-night appearance at the London Palladium for a filmed TV special that just aired last night in the UK.

Have a watch of this and try not to cry.

(Image / ITV)

Extremely Online presents a guide to echo chambers

Remember thinking there was no chance Donald Trump would win the 2016 US presidential election? You weren’t alone – everybody else in your echo chamber thought the same thing. What? How? The Shit You Should Care About team explains in this week’s episode of Extremely Online.

Move to level 3.3 in Auckland ‘unlikely’

A shift into alert level three, step three, for Auckland remains unlikely.

Cabinet will today review Auckland’s alert levels, one week ahead of the decision on when to shift the country into the traffic light system.

At 3.3, indoor gatherings could resume, hospitality could reopen, and services such as hairdressers could accept bookings once again.

Jacinda Ardern told Newshub that while cabinet takes regular reviews of the situation in Auckland, any imminent easing of restrictions was not likely. “Because we are so close to flipping into the new framework, and because we have had a number of examples of easing, we want to just make sure that those are bedding in, that we’re seeing those case numbers continue to be under control,” the prime minister said.

Ardern also signalled that the move to the traffic light system would happen quickly after that November 29 cabinet meeting – most likely within a day or two. That means all eyes are on December 1 as the probable reopening date.

A 1News report before the weekend indicated hairdressers and beauty salons may be able to open earlier. Any news on that front will come at today’s 4pm press conference.

Handful of new locations of interest in Bay of Plenty and Waikato

A number of new locations of interest have been confirmed outside of Auckland.

A PaknSave supermarket and St Pierre’s Sushi outlet in Rotorua are the latest pair added to the Ministry of Health’s list, along with locations in Tauranga, Turangi and Te Kuiti.

These new locations follow new delta cases confirmed yesterday in Bay of Plenty.

Earlier this month, the ministry confirmed to The Spinoff that its approach to contact tracing in Auckland had “shifted”, meaning most exposure events in the city would not be included on the list.

What happens if you catch Covid-19 at a campground?

The prime minister is confident that DHBs with the country’s lowest vaccination rates will be able to cope when the floodgates open around November 29.

In a week’s time, cabinet will meet to determine when Auckland and the rest of the country can move into the new traffic light framework. That will see Aucklanders leaving the city for the first time since mid-August and, inevitably, lead to delta spreading further around the country.

Asked on RNZ what would happen if Covid started to spread around a campground, Jacinda Ardern said health officials are prepared for all circumstances. “Our public health units have experience in this area, it has been done before,” said Ardern.

It wasn’t Ardern’s “expectation” that people would have to isolate at a campground, but instead may be moved to another facility by public health. “It is not new for us to have people in a range of different circumstances when they have Covid,” added Ardern.

National flounders as Act surges in latest Newshub poll

The latest major political poll has brought more woes for National as rumours swirl of an imminent leadership challenge.

The Newshub Reid-Research poll had National down 1.8% to 26.9% – not enough to instantly instigate a coup but enough to raise eyebrows within National’s caucus. Of even more concern for the opposition was Act’s result. The party that was once a one-man band would bring in 20 MPs on these numbers, boosted up four points to 16%.

Overall, the latest numbers would have been cause for celebration within Labour. Even after months of lockdown and confusion over the rules, Labour has dropped just 0.3% to remain sky high on 42.7%. The Greens are down to 7.2% while the Māori Party remain fairly steady on 2.1%.

It’s the preferred prime minister stakes that are most interesting. Jacinda Ardern has taken a noteworthy hit since the delta outbreak, dropping almost four points to 41.7%. But that’s still well ahead of Judith Collins who is now only the preferred leader of 6.1% of people, with Act’s David Seymour twice as more popular on 11.9%. Collins’ enemies Christopher Luxon and Simon Bridges are both nipping at her heels on 2.5% each.

Judith Collins and David Seymour
Judith Collins and David Seymour (Image / Getty)