Live updates, March 6: Last full day of lockdown for Auckland; remainder of NZ readies for level one

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8.00am: The day ahead

There are a couple of things we’ll be looking out for today to soothe our collective nerves. Or rather, a couple of things we don’t want to see.

First, we don’t want to see any new cases of Covid-19 in the community. At least, we don’t want to see any new cases in people that aren’t linked to the Valentine’s Day cluster. We can live with a case or two that have been isolating and are linked.

We also don’t want to see any press conferences. The plan as we understand it is a 1pm press release today. We’ll have that in full as soon as it lands, here.

And we really do not want to hear that is-it-a-lockdown-or-is-it-a-tsunami hell chord screeching out of our phones like a Kraftwerk migraine.

Ata Mārie!

7.30am: Thank God it’s not Friday any more

“It’s hard not to feel our country is having a run of bad luck,” said the prime minister yesterday afternoon. Here’s a reminder of what she was talking about.

Tsunami evacuations

March 4, 2021, will be remembered as a very eventful day; one which began for much of the country with a 2.27am shake, and for thousands of people in Bay of Plenty and East Cape with a dash for the hills. Just a few hours after they’d returned to their homes, with that tsunami warning from an offshore earthquake over, the alarms were sounding again. A 7.4 magnitude quake near the Kermadec Islands at 6.41am was just the warm-up act for an 8.1 at 8.28am. Amid some early confusion about which warning was which, much of the eastern coast of the North Island was put into evacuation mode. It must have been a stressful time for the people of Northland and the east, but they weren’t about to show it. The marine and beach warnings covered most of the North and some of the South Island.

Shortly after 3pm the worst of the waves were over, and the evacuated headed home. What does all this seismic ballyhoo mean in the days and weeks to come? Geonet has sketched out three scenarios, which you can read here. They’re mostly comforting.

Alert level latest

There was good news in the 1pm press release from the Ministry of Health yesterday: zero new cases. None in managed isolation and, much more importantly, for the fifth straight day, none in the community.

It made the alert level decision, announced at 4pm after a cabinet meeting, inevitable: Auckland would move out of the alert level three lockdown. The only question was how soon, and to what. The answer: Auckland goes to alert level two at 6am Sunday, while the rest of the country goes to alert level one. If that feels familiar, it is: this was the scenario on February 18. The fact of that deja vu may have informed cabinet’s decision to keep Auckland in level two for longer than last time. The prime minister indicated that cabinet would review the settings next week with a view to putting the region back into level one “before the weekend” – a nod to events organisers and the hospitality sector that a semblance of normality is not too far away.

If you’ve emerged from a rock or just want to take the ride again, relive yesterday by clicking here, zipping to the end and scrolling upwards.

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