What level 4 lockdown means

Streets are empty this morning as New Zealanders stay home under Alert Level 4 requirements. Photo: Daniel Hines.

New Zealand moved into level 4 lockdown at midnight, meaning the country is required to stay at home.

People who are deemed emergency workers are allowed to go to work, and those that can work from home must do so.

There are other rules surrounding lockdown and what you can and can't do.

See below for a full rundown.

Staying at home — what it means

We need your support to protect New Zealand and eliminate COVID-19. 

  •   •  Everyone must now stay home.

  •   •  From 11:59pm on Tuesday 17 August you can only leave home to shop for groceries, access necessary healthcare, get a COVID-19 test, exercise in your local area or go to work if you are working in an Alert Level 4 service, and you cannot work from home.

  •   •  Only make physical contact with those in your household bubble. 

Do not worry, during this time you will be able to access all the essentials you need, including medicine and food. 

Chapel St, Tauranga. Photo: Daniel Hines.

Wear a face covering

At Alert Level 4, you must stay home other than for essential personal movement.

We encourage you to wear a face covering and keep 2 metres distance from others when leaving your home. Especially if it is difficult to maintain physical distance from others.

You legally must wear a face covering:

  •   •  on public transport

  •   •  on flights

  •   •  if you are a taxi and ride-share drivers — we strongly encourage passengers to as well.

Food and shopping

  •   •  Supermarkets, dairies, pharmacies and food banks will remain open. 

  •   •  If possible, try to send one person per household to do the shopping.

  •   •  Practise 2 metre physical distancing and good hygiene while shopping. 

  •   •  Dairies and food banks will operate a strict “one-in, one-out” policy. They will not be allowed to sell or provide food prepared on the premises. 

  •   •  Primary industries, including food and beverage production and processing, will still operate. 

  •   •  Freight and courier drivers will continue to transport and deliver food. 

  •   •  Grocery food deliveries — such as My Food Bag and Hello Fresh — will continue, as long as the food is not pre-cooked. All deliveries must be contactless.

  •   •  Whole-food contactless deliveries such as butchers, bakeries and green-grocers can continue.

  •   •  Takeaway services must close. 

  •   •  Liquor stores will close, unless within a Licensing Trust Area and will operate with a strict “one-in, one-out” policy.

  •   •  Wine and beer will continue to be sold at supermarkets.

Public spaces and gatherings

Places where the public gather must close 

All public facilities must close. This includes: 

  •   •  bars 

  •   •  restaurants 

  •   •  cafes 

  •   •  gyms 

  •   •  cinemas 

  •   •  pools

  •   •  museums 

  •   •  libraries 

  •   •  playgrounds.

Indoor and outdoor events cannot go ahead 

Events, including family and social gatherings cannot go ahead. This includes parties, funerals and tangihanga, and weddings.  


  •   •  Rubbish collection will continue. Check your local authority website for recycling. 

  •   •  NZ Post will deliver mail and courier drivers will continue to make deliveries. 

  •   •  Self-service laundries can stay open, as long as 2 metre physical distancing is enforced. 

  •   •  Service stations will remain open and will be supplied. 

  •   •  Public transport, regional air travel and ferries are mostly restricted to those involved in Alert Level 4 services, freight and those returning home in the first 48 hours. 

  •   •  Some public transport will be available for essential trips, such as to the supermarket or doctor, but options are likely to be limited.

Exercise and recreation

  •   •  You can go for a walk, run or bike ride in your local area. Exercise is good for your mental health. 

  •   •  If you do, it must be on your own, or with your household bubble.

  •   •  Keep a 2 metre distance. 

  •   •  Do not do activities that may require search and rescue services. For example, do not go swimming, surfing, boating, hunting or tramping. 

  •   •  If you are unwell, do NOT go outside. 

Meeting friends and whānau

  •   •  Staying at home reduces the transmission of the virus. 

  •   •  For this to work, you are asked to only have physical contact with the people you live with. 

  •   •  If you live alone, you may arrange with another person living alone or a household to be part of your household bubble. This can include at most 2 households, and they must be in the same town or city. 

  •   •  If you want to talk to a friend, call or video chat with them. 

  •   •  If you want to talk to a neighbour, do it over the fence. 

  •   •  Children can travel between the homes of separated parents so as long as they live in the same town/city. 

  •   •  You can drop off groceries to others, but drop the groceries at the door. Always keep a 2 metre distance. 

Alert Level 4 businesses and services

Only certain businesses may remain open to the public during the Alert Level 4 period. If a business is not sure if it provides Alert Level 4 services or products, it should close. 

If you are a business or worker in a non-Alert-Level-4 business, you may still work — as long as this is from home. If you cannot work remotely, you must stay home.

Doing business at Alert Level 4

Funerals and tangihanga

Funeral directors can continue working at Alert Level 4. However, gathering together for funerals and tangihanga is not permitted at Alert Level 4. 

This may be a challenging time for you and your family. If you ever feel you are not coping, it is important to talk with a health professional.

For support if you need to talk, you can call or text 1737. It is free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to talk with a trained counsellor. 


All schools and early childhood education centres are closed. 

Schools will be providing information directly to all parents about what this means for them. 

Schools are establishing ways to teach online and remotely. 

Where possible, Alert Level 4 workers with children aged 0 to 14 need to make their own arrangements for childcare.

We know this will not be possible for everyone. 

How to access healthcare

Health and medical facilities will remain open while we are at Alert Level 4. 

You can still get medical help if you need it. This includes healthcare services, such as Healthline, GPs, cancer services, disability and aged support services. 

However, if you need to see a doctor or other medical professional you MUST phone first. 

Most consultations will happen over the phone or by videoconference to stop any risk of COVID-19 spreading by person-to-person contact. 

If a face-to-face meeting is required, your doctor or other medical professional will organise this with you. 

Please only call Healthline if you or someone you know feels unwell or you need medical advice, rather than general questions about COVID-19. It's important Healthline is able to answer calls from those who need medical advice. The more people who call asking for general information, the fewer people who need medical advice can get through. 

If you cannot get through and are severely unwell, for example having trouble breathing, contact emergency services (call 111). 

COVID-19 vaccinations

All vaccination centres in Aotearoa New Zealand will be closed on Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 August.

If you have an appointment on these days you will be contacted by text, email or a phone call to rebook your vaccination.

We will provide more information as soon as it is available.

Transport and travel

At Alert Level 4, all types of transport and travel are restricted. 
Only travel for essential reasons, such as to get food or medicine, or to go to work if you are an Alert Level 4 worker. 
If you are away from home when New Zealand moves to Alert Level 4, you have up to 48 hours to travel home. However, try and get home as soon as possible.

Transport and travel if you are unwell or at risk

If you are unwell or at high risk, you should avoid leaving your home at all. 

Public transport, taxis, and ride-sharing services

You can use public transport, taxis and ride-sharing services for transport for essential reasons.

Private vehicles and active transport 

You can use a private vehicle for essential reasons. You should only travel in your vehicle with people from your household.

You can use active transport like walking and biking, if you keep a 2 metre distance from anyone not in your household.

International air travel

Visitors and tourists can still use international air services to travel home but commercial flights have been impacted. 

Do not go to the airport unless you have a ticket. If you do not have ticket, contact a travel agent or airline directly. If you can't get a ticket, please contact your country's embassy.

Domestic air travel

While in Alert Level 4, air travel will be used only to transport people travelling home in the first 48 hours after the move to Alert Level 4, undertaking Alert Level 4 services and to transport freight (or for other permitted reasons). 

At-risk people

People at higher risk  in particular should stay at home and ask others to pick up supplies for them. You just need to ask them to leave supplies at the door, rather than come in.  

You are at high risk if you are over 70, have a compromised immune system or have underlying health conditions. 

People with underlying medical conditions include a compromised immune system, liver disease, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease and diabetes mellitus, pregnant people or those on immunosuppressant medications. 

You need to take more precautions to protect yourself against all infections, including COVID-19.

In an emergency

If there is another emergency while we are at Alert Level 4, you should do what you would normally do. 

If you feel an earthquake: drop, cover and hold during the shaking. If you’re near the coast, remember long or strong: get gone. 

If you are advised to evacuate by authorities because of a tsunami, flood, fire or other emergency, follow the evacuation advice. 

Emergency evacuation orders will override the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 requirement to stay at home. If you have to evacuate and leave your house, take your grab bag with you and try to avoid contact with people who aren’t in your bubble. Stay 2 metres away from others. 

If life or property is threatened always dial 111 for police, fire or ambulance. 

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