COVID-19 changes to Alert levels and level 4 guidelines

On 27 August 2021, further changes were made to the COVID-19 Alert levels that apply throughout New Zealand.

New Zealand will remain at Alert level 4 until 11.59pm Tuesday 31 August 2021 and all of New Zealand south of Auckland will move to Alert Level 3 at that time.  Auckland and Northland areas will remain in Alert level 4 and the rest of New Zealand at Alert Level 3 until a further announcement is made.

Alert level 4 guidelines

We understand the impact of the Ministry of Health (Ministry) patient risk assessment question regarding evolving community outbreak and the impact of the associated room requirements on the delivery of care under the Alert level 4 guidelines updated on 23 August. We have been working on this over the past few days with the Ministry and senior advisors. As a result, changes have been made to the latest Alert level 4 guidelines issued today (27 August) to enable access to treatment for patients in all parts of the country. The key changes are:

  • Removed the patient risk assessment question “Have travelled from an area with an evolving COVID-19 community outbreak (including in New Zealand and in any other country/area with which New Zealand has quarantine free travel (QFT) in the last 14 days)”. 
  • Provided further advice on room requirements for high risk patients where an Airborne Infection Isolation Room (previously referred to as negative pressure room) is not available - treat the patient in a single room with a door which should remain closed. This room should not be positively pressured to the outside corridor. A portable HEPA filtration unit, if available, may be used in this setting - it would provide an additional measure of infection prevention during the assessment and treatment of the patient.

The latest Alert level 4 guidelines which include these changes are available here.

Fit testing of N95/P2 respirators

We have been receiving queries relating to N95/P2 respirators, in particular on fit testing and fit checking. The requirement for N95/P2 respirators to be fit tested and fit checked was introduced in our February 2021 Alert level 3 guidelines. 

The Council just received the following advice from the Ministry on an amnesty for fit testing of N95/P2 respirators:

The required standard for any healthcare worker who needs to wear a P2/N95 particulate respirator is for them to pass the fit testing process. However, in this rapidly evolving situation, not all staff may have been fit tested at this point. 

As a minimum healthcare workers should self-fit check their P2/N95 particulate respirator each and every time they need to don (put on) this type of mask. 

Independent fit testers are available via:

The Council has included guidance on how to perform a fit check, in the alert level 4 guidelines.

This continues to be an uncertain time. We will continue to advise requirements as quickly as we can to ensure we all stay safe and work together to meet the challenges presented by the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus.

Andrew Gray (Chair) & Marie Warner (CE)