Dr Ashley Bloomfield urges perspective as impatience grows about alert level 1

The AM Show 26/05/2020

New Zealanders should have a little perspective as impatience grows about alert level restrictions, the Director-General of Health says. 

Gatherings of up to 100 people will be allowed from Friday but alert level 2 will likely remain in place for another month.

New Zealand moved to alert level 2 on May 14. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the expansion of mass gatherings on Monday but said the country would not move to alert level 1 for at least another month when Cabinet will reassess the situation.

The move was slammed by ACT leader David Seymour, who said the Government was "undermining" September's election but keeping New Zealand in alert level 2 for another month.

But Dirctor-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told The AM Show there's good progress being made and is fending off any criticism.

"I don't think it is a long time - remembering that we've actually only been at alert level 2 for less than two weeks so far.

"New Zealand is stepping down out of the lockdown far quicker than any other country, including our neighbours across the Tasman Australia."

Dr Bloomfield said New Zealand is moving at a sensible speed.

"I don't think we're being slow, I think we're moving through, actually, at pace."

"The move to alert level 1 is going to be looked at in four weeks time - that's another two periods of that 14 day incubation period."

"There are a very few things that cannot be done under a full alert level 2 - so the maximum size of gathering goes up to 100 at midday on Friday. That is hugely enabling for just about every business."

"You will, in alert level 1, be able to have these bigger gatherings and open up the dancefloor if it's a nightclub or something but the vast majority of businesses will be able to get on and fully operate under alert level 2."

Dr Bloomfield is warning New Zealand must not get ahead of itself as the world continues to battle COVID-19.

He said people should not underestimate the virus' global threat.

"We've got to remember that there is still a pandemic raging outside New Zealand's borders," Dr Bloomfield told The AM Show.

"The key risk here, and we outlined this when we moved into alert level 2, is the mixing and mingling and where you've got a dancefloor, you've got a lot of people who don't necessarily know each other - that's where the risk is. That's the risk we're trying to mitigate so we don't lose the gains we've made."