12:14pm – Robertson has finished speaking and the press conference has ended.
12:12pm – Robertson is urging businesses to have contingency plans in place in the case workers test positive for COVID-19.
12:10pm – Robertson is urging people not to panic buy. We have stock and supplies. Earlier, Ardern also urged people to remain calm.
12:08pm – He also said there is also the short-term absence payment which is available to businesses including self employed people, while they await their result of their COVID test and can’t work from home. It’s paid $359 per eligible worker. He said full information is on MSD
12:06pm – New Zealand has one of the strongest bank balances in the world, and we are prepared for Omicron, Robertson said.
12:05pm – Robertson talking about financial support available. He says there is the leave support scheme available to employers and self-employed people to help pay employees who have been told to self isolate and can’t work at home during that period.
It’s paid at the same rate as the wage subsidy was previously – $600 per week per full time worker and $359 per week per part time worker.
12pm – Ardern and Bloomfield have now left. Grant Robertson now giving advice on financial support.
11:58am – Ardern urges anyone who is not vaccinated, she urges them to “reconsider”. Even if we have different views, people’s well being needs to be at the heart of it all, Ardern says.
Ardern confirmed that her wedding will not be going ahead due to the Omicron outbreak. “As for mine, it’s not going ahead”.
11:56am – Ardern says no changes have been made to the international border dates. So the plan is still for Kiwis in Australia to be allowed into New Zealand without MIQ with home isolation at the end of February.
Ardner says Kiwis should plan to be in Red for “some weeks”.
11:54am – Ardern says we have over 4.5 million rapid tests currently in the country with another million arriving this week.
She says tens of millions have been ordered. For the first phase of the pandemic, she says since rapid tests can miss up to 20 percent of positive COVID tests they will continue using PCR tests. As cases grow, they will integrate rapid tests.
11:52am – Ardern is continuing urge Kiwis to get their booster shot and says there is a lot of space in the system to book.
Ardern is not considering keeping schools closed while kids are getting vaccinated and she says it’s not the advice she has been given.
11:47am – Ardern says they are looking at overseas to see how they ddelt with Omicron. She says “absolute focus” is on slowing the virus down.
11:45am – People who have pre-exisiting conditions need to be identified quickly, Ardern said. This is an area they’ve been looking at since the emergence of Delta in NZ last year.
Ardern says the key will be keeping vaccination numbers high especially for our Maori and Pacific communities.
Ardern says it’s not in their plans to close hospitality.
11:42am – This is all the information we know so far:
- Nine COVID-19 cases in Nelson/Marlborough have now been confirmed as Omicron and a further case from the same household was confirmed last night
- Positives cases attended events in Auckland including a wedding
- Air New Zealand flight attendant has tested positive for Omicron, took additional flights while infectious
- Omicron is circulating in Auckland and likely elsewhere
- New Zealand is moving to the red setting of the Traffic Light System from 11:59 tonight
- The isolation period for all COVID-19 cases has been extended from 10 days to 14 days and for close contacts, it is extended from seven days to 14.
11:41am – In phase 2, there will be more cases and we’ll move to a transition period which will involve more people isolating.
11:39am – Bloomfield says if you’re a close contact that means everyone in your household has to isolate until you return a day five test and if you’re just a contact you follow the advice and your household can continue with their normal lives.
11:33am – Ardern says of the Nelson family, those who are eligibile are vaccinated.
Ardern said they will be providing an update on the advice on mask wearing in the coming days. This comes as a result of evidence emerging overseas.
11:31am – Ardern taking questions from the media.
“Be calm, be kind, get boosted,” Ardern says. They don’t want people to experience being in hospital with the virus.
“Get boosted, it makes all the difference.”
11:30am – Bloomfield says there is at least two groups known to be infected at the family’s event – the wedding – and attendees from the event are known to have attended places with a lot of people that include the Sky Tower, funeral, amusement park and domestic airports around the country.
11:27am – Bloomfield has announced a section 70 notice on these locations of interest, which means this is a legal requirement for New Zealanders who have been at these locations at the times the cases have been.
Of these flights, 150 of 192 people and contacts have been contacted and provided with Covid-19 information.
Bloomfield said based on the information the the risk of undetected transmission is considered and so that is why they gave the advice to move to ‘Red’.
11:26am – Bloomfield says he expects the cases to grow. Locations of interest have been identified in Nelson and Marlborough and are in the processes of being uploaded to the ministry’s website.
11:23am – Bloomfield is now speaking.
He says the first person in the Nelson group went and got tested, and he thanked that person for doing so.
Bloomfield says testing has been fundamental in our response. He says if you have any symptoms at all wherever you are in New Zealand, please get tested.
11:22am – Ardern says Omicron will be a phased approach. PCR tests will continue to be used but Rapid tests will be integrated into testing sites. At the first stage, you will need to be isolated for 14 days and 10 days if you are a contact.
Stage 2 is a transition stage.
Stage 4 is the more severe stage where cases could be in the thousands daily and will they make changes to contacts and isolation and that will be announced on Wednesday and they don’t expect to be at this stage for a few weeks.
11:19am – Ardern says it’s important to have “a buddy” and she recommends this to be a friend or neighbor who can help get essentials if you need.
11:18am – Workplaces are open, but can choose to ask their employees to work from home.
It’s the Government’s intention that schools will remain open and they’re looking at ventilation.
Children from Year 4 and up must wear a mask.
Omicron is in 80 countries around the world, Ardern says.
11:17am – Ardern now explains what life is like at Red. She says it is not a lockdown. Hospitality businesses can open with a capacity of 100 people but must be seated and separated.
11:16am – Ardern said already 20 percent of Children are either vaccinated or booked to get vaccinated.
11:14am – This setting is essential to slow the spread of the virus as it’s more infectious and we will see more cases than in previous outbreaks.
Ardern has one message for New Zealanders. “Get boosted”. This is the one task New Zealanders need to do, she says.
We need to get our booster numbers higher, and quickly.
If it’s been four months since your second jab, go get your booster.
As we know from overseas, Omicron is significantly more infectious, the PM says.
11:09am – Ardern is speaking.
9 COVID-19 cases have now been confirmed as Omicron and a further case from the same household was confirmed last night.
Ardern said they don’t have a clear lead on a index case linking family to the border. Omicron now circulating in Auckland – possibly Nelson Marlborough and maybe elsewhere.
One family flew to Auckland on January 13 for wedding.
Ardern confirms all of New Zealand will move to Red tonight at 11:59pm.
11:08am – The Prime Minister and the Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield are making their way to the podium now.
11:01am – The Government’s COVID-19 website has just announced all of New Zealand will move to ‘Red’ in the traffic light system tonight at 11:59pm.