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Live: Waikato restrictions to ease on Wednesday

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photo: RNZ.

Parts of the Waikato in alert level three will move down a step from midnight tomorrow, allowing some restrictions to ease.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made the announcement at a post Cabinet briefing this afternoon.

Ardern says while the Waikato continues to see cases, they remain linked and testing and vaccination rates are high.

Alert level three step two will allow retail businesses to open, provided mask wearing and social distancing occurs, outdoor gathering numbers will also increase to 25 and the limit of two households meeting will also be removed.

Auckland remains at its current alert level this week week but Cabinet has agreed in principle it will move to step two from 11.59pm Tuesday, November 9.

Ardern says the end goal for Auckland is the Covid-19 protection framework which will be possible when all three DHBs in the region reach 90 per cent vaccination rates.

In Auckland, fewer than 5000 first doses remain before reaching 90 per cent single-dose vaccination, and for Auckland as a whole 80 per cent has had two doses.

"And that's incredible," Ardern says. "Case numbers, while growing, remain within some of our expectations as modelled and the public health assessment of the impact of changes like opening up retail include that this activity is generally not responsible for marked increases of new cases."

She says the approach is to take a "steady and conscious change" in restrictions.

"For those who have concerns about any easing, I would say that because of high vaccination rates in Auckland we can move forward with greater confidence and we will continue to have very strong and clear public health guidance on how businesses that are eligible to reopen, do so."

She says the outbreak cannot be contained forever, despite Auckland boundary and the work Auckland has done to help contain it.

"We will continue to try and extinguish these cases but I don't want anyone to be left with the belief that we can keep Delta in one place and one place only for good."

She says everyone is tired and worn out thanks to the virus.

"Despite how hard everything feels right now, we are going to be okay, we just need to keep moving."

EARLIER: News about whether or not the alert levels for Auckland and parts of the Waikato will be shifted are expected this afternoon.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will give a post-cabinet announcement today at 4pm.

She will be joined by Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

The announcement comes after the Ministry of Health reported 162 new community cases today.

A total of 53 people are in hospital with the virus.

Three are in ICU or HDU, says an MOH spokesperson.

The average age of those in hospital is 47.

Tune into the livestream above to for more on the alert level decisions.

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