The nation recorded a further 29 community infections on Monday, taking the number of cases in the current Delta outbreak to 1,357.  
The first case in the latest outbreak emerged in Auckland on August 17, prompting Ms Ardern to order a Level 4 nationwide lockdown while declaring: “We want to be short and sharp, not light and long”. 
“At the beginning of this outbreak, we said we were adopting an approach of elimination while we vaccinate. That was the right choice, and the only choice,” she said on Monday. 
“That was because at that time, only 42 per cent of Aucklanders had one dose and 25 per cent were fully vaccinated.
“In the seven weeks since, those numbers are now 84 per cent and 52 per cent – effectively doubled.”
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Ms Ardern said while New Zealand had managed to contain the current outbreak, it was clear the country will struggle to get back down to zero community infections. 
“As you can see, with this outbreak, and with Delta, the return to zero is incredibly difficult,” she said.
“And our restrictions alone are not enough to achieve it quickly. In fact, for this outbreak it has become clear that long periods of heavy restrictions has not get us to zero cases.”
“But that is ok. Elimination was important because we didn’t have vaccines.”
Ms Ardern said now the country was seeing rising vaccination rates, it was time to shift its position on managing COVID-19.   
“We have more options. And there’s good cause for us to feel optimistic about the future. But we cannot rush,” she said.
Infectious diseases expert: ‘Zero COVID is not a reasonable proposition medium to long term’
“That’s why we need to continue to contain and control the virus as much as possible while we make our transition from a place where we only use heavy restrictions, to a place where we use vaccines and every day public health measures.
“This is a change in approach we were always going to make over time. This Delta outbreak has accelerated that transition.”
Ms Ardern said Auckland will remain in Alert Level 3 from 11:59pm on Tuesday but there will be changes to some restrictions.
“People will be able to connect with loved ones outdoors with no more than two households at a time, up to a maximum of 10 people; early childhood education will return for all; and people can move around Auckland for recreation such as beach visits and hunting,” she said.
“At step two retail will open their doors, with the usual measures of wearing facemasks and keeping up physical distancing; public facilities such as pools and zoos will open; and the number of people who can meet outdoors will increase to 25.
New Zealand in lockdown after single Auckland case
“Step three will bring back those higher risk settings. Hospitality will open – seated, separated and with a limit of 50; close contact businesses like hairdressers will also open with mask use and physical distancing; and gatherings will also then extend to 50.” 
New Zealand reached a major milestone in its vaccine rollout on Monday, with more than 2 million residents now fully vaccinated.
The country has also announced non-citizens arriving from November 1 will have to be fully vaccinated.  
“To further reduce the possibility of the virus getting through our border, we are introducing the requirement for air travellers aged 17 and over, who are not New Zealand citizens, to be fully vaccinated to enter New Zealand,” COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said. 
“This is an important step in our Reconnecting New Zealand strategy.” 

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