Published on : Monday, March 23, 2020
New Zealand will enter an almost full lockdown by Wednesday as an immediate measure to prevent the spreading of coronavirus. The schools will shut except for parents working in essential services, along with public transport across the country – and the military used to enforced the rules. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that New Zealand would enter ‘level 4’ restrictions within 48 hours, with level 3 enacted immediately.
The schools and non-essential services across New Zealand will be closed for at least the next four weeks after the Government put the country in nationwide lockdown to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged the magnitude of the measures as she announced them today, but said they could save the lives of tens of thousands of New Zealanders. The country’s coronavirus alert level would be raised to level 3 immediately.
In 48 hours the alert level would be raised to level 4 – “stay at home” instruction, schools and businesses closed except essential services, severely limited travel – and will remain in place for a minimum of four weeks.
The Prime Minister’s Office has confirmed that Alert Level 4 will take effect from 11.59pm on Wednesday. The essential services would still be open at both alert levels, she said.
The Police Commissioner Mike Bush, who is part of the team, told this morning that the military could be used, but he did not expect any armed police or armed military personnel in the streets.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said all rents would be frozen, and the New Zealand Government’s wage subsidy programme, announced last week with a $150,000 cap, would now be extended to all businesses so as many workers as possible would keep an income.
New Zealand had been at alert level 2, but the call for a lockdown had been mounting, with the Teaching Council and former chief science advisor to the PM Sir Peter Gluckman adding their voices this morning.
Ardern also said the rapid spread of Covid-19 cases in Italy – where more than 5000 people have died – and the confirmation of community transmission in two of the country’s 102 confirmed cases compelled the Government to act.