Some 16 million kiwis will be excluded from non-essential movements under strict new lockdown until Wednesday as Australia suspends the travel bubble

Aucklanders wake up to a new lockdown on Monday, hoping the short and harsh three-day restrictions imposed by Jacinda Ardern will stop the spread of Covid-19

The Prime Minister said genome testing had shown the three community cases were the UK variant of Covid-19

These cases – from an Auckland family – mean 16 million kiwis face bans on non-essential movement through Wednesday at midnight under the level three alert restrictions

The lockdown marks the second time Auckland has taken immediate action since the stricter 51-day statewide lockdown last year that helped New Zealand clear the virus

The rest of New Zealand has been put on alert level two, imposing social distancing, limits on collecting and increased wearing of masks

On Monday morning, Ardern said genome sequencing had shown the virus to be one of the slightly more infectious strains

“We were right to be careful and focused on security because we confirmed it was the British variant,” she told Radio NZ

“Because of this sequencing, we were unable to link it to any of our managed isolation functions. It wasn’t someone who walked from an airline into our managed isolation”

She said health officials were still trying to identify the source of the infection and were working on two main areas

While one of the new community cases is being investigated at a company serving airlines at Auckland Airport, officials are investigating whether the virus might have got off a transit passenger or flight crew laundry

“There may be a scenario where we cannot answer what happened here,” warned Ardern

In addition, the infected family – a mother, a father and a daughter – did not fulfill the personal contact tracing as requested by the government

New Zealanders are asked to download a Covid Tracer app and scan QR codes to record movement and who they are passing by

“It’s a good timely reminder to everyone, please turn on the bluetooth function and keep scanning,” said Ardern

The test results from the family’s close contacts will likely be filtered through later Monday, giving an indication of the spread

Ardern asks for patience, calm and that the New Zealanders continue to be strong and friendly

“Remember, we’ve been here before. That means we know how to get out of there: together,” she said

Australia’s medical experts met on Sunday evening to declare New Zealand a red zone This means that people arriving from New Zealand must be in hotel quarantine for 14 days

New Zealand

World News – UK – New Zealand’s Auckland Covid outbreak is a UK variant, Ardern says