By Liu Chen of RNZ

Restaurants are crying out for clarity on government restrictions and essential services as the deadline for the unprecedented nation-wide shut down fast approaches.

The government has asked all bars, restaurants and cafes to close, and for takeaway services to follow suit when the alert system moves to level four at midnight tomorrow, but the Restaurant Association's chief executive, Marisa Bidois, had some questions.

"We are just asking clarification from the government. We've already been in touch with several officers for clarification on the guidelines. It does include food delivery, but there hasn't been any confirmation as to whether that includes sort of restaurants, using Uber or other delivery services to keep delivering food to people."

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Bidois said the advice was that food delivery could still operate, but she was wondering who was going to prepare the food if restaurants were shut.

She said the association had more than 2300 members and it was seeking answers as many were waiting to find out whether they remained open or not for delivery.

"We know it's a difficult time for everyone. But people still need to eat and we think that our industry can contribute to assisting feed our communities, our local communities, our essential service staff and really sort of be a part of assisting everyone through this difficult time," she said.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

McDonald's said its restaurants, deliveries and drive-through services around the country would be closed by midnight Wednesday.

Restaurant Brands said all Taco Bell and Carl's Jr would be closed from Tuesday evening, and it was also staggering the closure of KFC and Pizza Hut stores.

Domino's Pizza general manager Cameron Toomey said their delivery services would keep operating.

"It is important to note here that it is a very fluid situation along with a lot of things at the moment. And we will continue to operate as long as we have the support of our team, our customers and of course the approval of the government. So if either of those were to change, then we would of course stop immediately."

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Toomey said Domino's is offering one free meal a week to those over 70 years old and people can phone to place an order.

"We have certain times we all need to pitch together and do our own part, so we definitely recognise that the oldest citizens are some of the most vulnerable in our society and we feel that this is our way to provide that service to our community and do a little bit to help everybody out at the moment," he said.

Meal kit delivery company My Food Bag said it was experiencing a high demand for its services.

Chief executive Kevin Bowler said he was expecting more growth in the coming weeks.

There are 40 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in New Zealand today. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told reporters there were also three new probable cases. There were 155 cases of confirmed and probable cases, and he said the daily tally would now include probable cases.

"The last couple of weeks for My Food Bag has been the strongest in our history. And we were seeing that I think as a result of people really wanting to access quality food delivered to the door without having to have any interaction with other people."

Bowler said the company had made a long list of small changes to their procedures to ensure the safety of staff and customers.

"We're increasing the amount of cleaning we're providing people with more sanitization stations and equipment and more cleaning, more separation of people in the assembly areas so that we're working in smaller groups as well."

Unite Union is calling for pizza shops to close out of concerns that it may set an example to every restaurant and undermine the lockdown.

The government said it was working to further clarify what were essential services, and businesses can call its helpline on 0800 779 997 to confirm if they could stay open.

- RNZ