The Government will give much-awaited detail this Thursday on how and which businesses will be allowed to reopen if and when the national lockdown is lifted on April 22.
Further assistance measures for business will be announced on Wednesday.
While the country spent barely two days at alert level 3 before going to full lockdown on March 25, ministers have been thrashing out details with representatives of various sectors of the economy in anticipation of an announcement on April 20 that the country will start moving out of lockdown in the latter half of next week.
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Numbers of new cases of covid-19 continue to be low, with a further 19 announced today, the 19th day of the lockdown. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern remained adamant there would be no early relief from the measures that have brought life in New Zealand to a virtual standstill, with all but essential industry workers ordered to stay home for 28 days.
Thursday's announcements are intended to give far more detail about life at alert levels 3 and 2 and will follow economic announcements on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tuesday will see the Treasury release a range of economic scenarios - not forecasts - to give some sense of how the New Zealand economy might recover and will include unemployment and economic growth projections under various possible situations.
On Wednesday, Finance Minister Grant Robertson will make an online speech including new measures to assist businesses hit by the lockdown and the government's "revised approach to the Budget," which is still due to be delivered on May 14.
Ardern warned that since New Zealand was a trading nation, it could not hope to recover any more quickly than other economies, even if the virus was eradicated successfully here.
She reiterated also that there was no end date for the stringent border closures that have ended all but repatriation, essential industry and airfreight flights between New Zealand and the rest of the world.
"Our focus has to be on putting New Zealand in the best possible position to live as ordinary a life as possible," she said. "Border restrictions will be a very strong part of our overall response."
Ardern said she had not begun discussing the possibility of freeing up trans-Tasman travel with her Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, on the same day as the chief executive of Auckland International Airport, Adrian Littlewood, called on both governments to start laying the groundwork for a trans-Tasman travel 'bubble', once it was safe to create one.
"That will come down to our ability to reassure ourselves that anyone travelling between countries is risk-free," said Ardern.
Thursday's alert level announcements would cover businesses, transport, health, recreational activities and educational facilities.
Asked whether the government would give a list of what is allowed or what is not allowed under each alert level, Ardern said it would provide "the principles of what we expect to see within different environments and what can and cannot occur, and then examples."
"We will be providing as much detail as possible for businesses to know and understand whether they can or cannot open and if they can, what is expected of them."
The alert level 3 definition, which was developed when the country was heading up the scale of alerts, refers to the national or local application of the following restrictions:
• travel in areas with clusters or community transmission limited;
• affected educational facilities closed;
• mass gatherings cancelled;
• public venues closed (eg libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, amusement parks);
• alternative ways of working required and some non-essential businesses should close;
• non face-to-face primary care consultations;
• non acute (elective) services and procedures in hospitals deferred and healthcare staff reprioritised.
Restaurants and cafes were able to supply takeaway food in the brief level 3 period.
The Auckland-based Employers and Manufacturers Association today issued a call for the government to take a 'fast start' approach to moving out of level 4 lockdown.
"We had little time to prepare for alert levels 3 and 4 last month but everyone has had an opportunity to learn from the lockdown, and consider what workplace practices can be put in place to safely enable as many businesses as possible to operate," said chief executive Brett O'Riley. "It is critical we get these guidelines finalised this week so we get businesses fully prepared to restart."
The EMA would also like fast-tracking for resource consents on 'shovel-ready' projects, permission for 24-hour operations on key projects, to see the infrastructure delivery systems developed for the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquake recoveries used, and 'open book' procurement by government, "allowing lead contractors to be appointed to major projects quickly."