Auckland is heading into its first weekend in alert level 3 this Friday evening, and the upper Hauraki area in a "bespoke" level 4 is looking forward to dropping back to level 2 at midnight on Saturday.

It's also the first time in weeks that daily case numbers have dropped to single figures, with only nine new community cases reported today.

New cases

The number of new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand dropped to single figures for the first time in weeks, with nine new cases, the Ministry of Health reported today.

All of today's nine cases have been linked to earlier cases. Six are known contacts and three are household cases.

There are now a total of 1131 cases in the outbreak. Of those, 902 have recovered.

There were 15 new community cases reported yesterday, all in Auckland. Just one of those cases remains unlinked.

There are 13 people in hospital, with three people in ICU.

Hauraki to alert level 2

The Upper Hauraki area will join most of New Zealand in alert level 2 after no further positive results, the deputy prime minister has confirmed.

All the results of people from Upper Hauraki have come back negative, except for members of the household which has had positive cases.

Robertson then confirmed the area will move from alert level 3 to 2 at 11.59pm on Saturday.

First dose of the vaccination in the area is at 60.1 percent.

Maori and Pasifika should have been prioritised for vaccines - experts

Maori health experts say the age-based approach baked inequities into the Covid-19 vaccine rollout and giving Maori and Pasifika vaccination priority could have dampened the Delta outbreak.

A Rotorua district health board member and Whanau Ora representative says the rollout typified a "back of the queue, back of the bus" approach to Maori.

The Ministry of Health says the vaccine sequencing was established to vaccinate those most at risk first and it is working to boost Maori and Pasifika rates.

Massey University Te Pumanawa Hauora Maori Health and Development Research centre director Professor Chris Cunningham said more than half of the Maori population was under 30, a statistic linked to a lower life expectancy than the general population.

When the vaccine plan prioritised over-30s above younger people, it effectively excluded more than half the Maori population, Cunningham said. The median age for Maori is about 26 years.

Aucklanders told to stick to rules

Auckland's mayor is encouraging residents to keep following Covid-19 lockdown rules as the city enters its first weekend of the latest lockdown in alert level 3.

Phil Goff said it was encouraging that today's Covid-19 numbers were in single digits.

But he says people need to remember Covid-19 is still in the community and the city needs to remain vigilant.

Goff was urging residents to stay local and stay within bubbles.

He was also encouraging people to get vaccinated this weekend, if possible.

Meanwhile Auckland City Council was fast-tracking some new street trading licences to help businesses if the city moves to alert level 2.

The council said it would extend the expiry date for existing outdoor dining licences.

It would also fast-track street trading licences as well.

Compliance update

The police released their latest compliance update - reminding Aucklanders not to burst their bubbles after a spate of arrests at the Southern checkpoint.

A 63-year-old man was arrested at the Oram Road checkpoint after refusing multiple times to provide any of his details to police.

The man was given a warning and continue to refuse to give any details and was subsequently arrested where he resisted police.

He was summonsed to appear in the Pukekohe District Court.

A 31-year-old female was arrested at the same checkpoint after she was identified as being wanted to arrest in connection to burglaries in Cambridge.

At the Rawiri Road checkpoint, a vehicle was observed travelling through the freight lane at speed last night without headlights on.

The driver of the vehicle was stopped on SH2 and a search of the vehicle located a rifle in the boot.

A 41-year-old man is facing a number of charges including unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Auckland checkpoint figures

As of 11.59pm yesterday, a total of 256,962 vehicles have been stopped at the checkpoints on Auckland's northern and southern boundaries since 11.59pm on 31 August.

A total of 4035 vehicles have been turned around during this time.

Yesterday, 21,854 vehicles were processed at the checkpoints while 457 vehicles were turned around, less than half the number of vehicles turned around the previous day.

A total of 80 vehicles were turned away at the Northern checkpoints yesterday while 377 vehicles were turned around at the Southern checkpoints.

As at 11.59pm 21 September, 7564 heavy vehicles have been stopped and 328 of them have been turned around attempting to leave Tamaki Makaurau.

Of those vehicles, 56 were turned around yesterday.

Diwali festival cancelled

The Auckland Diwali Festival has been cancelled due to Covid-19.

The festival, celebrating a holy day in the Hindu calendar, is hugely popular among Auckland's 250,000-strong Indian population.

The organiser, Auckland Unlimited, said the festival slated for the end of October could not go ahead until the city was in alert level 1.

It had planned to organise some online activities instead.

Mayor Phil Goff said it was disappointing but understandable.

Lockdown making loneliness harder for seniors

Another long lockdown in Auckland is making it harder for seniors to avoid loneliness.

Social isolation was already a major problem before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Surveys of 40,000 New Zealand pensioners living at home between 2017 and 2019, showed about one in five felt lonely.

Auckland Age Concern social workers have been on the phones daily talking to older folk, to reduce feelings of social isolation.

Age Concern Auckland chief executive Kevin Lamb told RNZ that with every day of lockdown, loneliness was becoming a greater challenge for seniors overall.