Wellington to move to Level 2 tonight

Fears thousands could have been exposed to coronavirus at New Zealand museum

The Wellington region will go to Covid-19 Alert Level 2 from 6pm tonight until 11.59pm Sunday.

New Zealand raised the COVID-19 alert level in its capital Wellington on Wednesday amid concerns that the city may have been exposed to the highly infectious Delta variant that has triggered a fresh outbreak in neighboring Australia.

Hospitality businesses must keep groups of customers separated, seated, and served by a single person.

The travel bubble with Australia has been paused several times since it began on April 19.

It is understood the Australian caught the virus in Sydney before going on holiday, New Zealand's Ministry of Health said.

At this stage, four close contacts have been identified and were now isolating, said a spokesperson.

Air New Zealand said flights from Auckland to Sydney would continue to operate over the next 72 hours.

"Everything is on the table", he said.

TV NZ reports it comes after a recently confirmed case travelled from Sydney to Wellington and back again over the weekend.

"The ministry's contact tracing team has been in touch with the airlines about contacting passengers on these flights to provide advice".

Health authorities said the traveler visited Wellington from Saturday through Monday before returning to Australia and testing positive for COVID-19.

Contact tracers were working "at pace", he said, and this case was a reminder of the need to use the Covid tracer app and to have the Bluetooth function turned on.

Passengers wearing face masks disembarking from a commuter train at Wellington Railway Station in August.

Potential exposure sites in Wellington Health authorities met this morning to produce a list of places of interest, with the first of number of potential exposure sites in Wellington released.

"New Zealand authorities were notified by their Australian counterparts Tuesday evening and the established processes of contacting the case's close contacts and getting further information about their movements while in Wellington was initiated".

New Zealand reported its last locally acquired case in February while Australia has had sporadic outbreaks.

Meanwhile, University of Otago epidemiologist Michael Baker is calling for half-levels to be added to the Covid-19 alert system to better respond to outbreaks. Close contacts are being asked to get tested and isolate for two weeks. New Zealanders were on edge Wednesday after health authorities said a coronavirus-infected traveler from Australia had visited the museum and other sites over the weekend.

The latest surge in cases in the Sydney Bondi cluster led NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to extend the state's mask mandate for all indoor public venues to midnight on Wednesday June 30.

Local government areas of Wollongong and Shellharbour, which had compulsory masks for public transport, would be subjected to the same mask rules as Sydney.

"People who have been at these sites will need to isolate and should contact Healthline for further advice".

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