Kiwis are being urged to think about fire safety as the nation prepares to lock down for at least a month in the battle against the Covid-19 global pandemic.

The national lockdown starts at 11.59pm tonight and will last at least four weeks.

During that time New Zealanders cannot leave their home addresses unless it's absolutely essential - for example buying food, seeking medical treatment or exercising.

A state of emergency has been declared for the country this afternoon - handing emergency powers to authorities to enforce the nationwide lockdown from midnight tonight.


Earlier today 50 more coronavirus cases were confirmed, taking the total number to 205.

Fire and Emergency reminded people about home safety as they settled into self isolation.

"With people staying home for at least the next four weeks, it's now more important than ever for everyone to be fire-safe," said Fenz chief executive Rhys Jones.

"We're heading into winter, and with households self-isolating together, there'll be more cooking at home, and more use of open fires, heaters, and dryers - all things which can increase fire risk."

Jones said Fenz staff regularly attended fires that were caused by overloaded electrical outlets.

"So, if you're working from home, please check your workspace set-up to ensure plugs aren't overloaded," he urged.

"Make sure your heating source is at least a metre away from everything - including other people, laundry and furniture.

"Keep your cooking surfaces free from grease and please - never, ever leave pans unattended on the stove top."


Jones said this afternoon was a good time to press the button on all your smoke alarms to check they're working.

"A house fire can kill in five minutes - go over an escape plan with everyone in your household," he said.

"At times like this it's really important to look after each other.

"So please also check in with vulnerable family members and neighbours.

"Do what you can to help them with their own fire safety preparations, as long as you can do so safely, following the advice about physical distancing on"

Jones said Fenz were "well-prepared and ready to respond" to emergencies as usual during the nationwide lock down.

"If you do need to call 111 for a fire, we will ask you whether anyone at the address is self-isolating or has a confirmed case of Covid-19," he explained.


"Where this is the case, we already have necessary measures in place to ensure everyone's safety including protective clothing, gloves, masks, safety glasses and masks.

"Our top priority is to keep your people and our people safe.

"Together we can prevent both the spread of Covid-19 and the often-devastating consequences of household fires."

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield confirmed this afternoon that six people are in hospital in a stable condition, one in Rotorua, two in Waikato and three in Wellington.

Three patients were discharged from hospitals yesterday.

More than 20 people have fully recovered from the virus. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website