Masks will need to be worn on all public transport in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland and on domestic flights throughout the country from Thursday.

The Minister for COVID-19 Response, Chris Hipkins, gave the directive on Monday in Wellington.

“I will be issuing an order under the COVID-19 Response Act requiring the wearing of face coverings on all public transport into, out of and through the Auckland region, including for taxi and Uber drivers and on all New Zealand passenger flights,“ Hipkins said in a statement.

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He said that mask-wearing to the toolbox of measures against the virus was a sensible precaution at the right time and it would provide another line of defence as a low cost and practical option.

“As we learn more about the virus and continue to strengthen our test, trace and isolate processes and border measures, modelling is now telling us that we’re at the stage of having the toolset.

“That means we’re better able to respond to community cases with fewer restrictions,’’ the minister said.