New Zealand has moved to alert level 3 in response to the Covid-19 corinavirus pandemic and will move to alert level 4 (the highest of the four levels) from 11.59pm on Wednesday.

Below is a guide to what the new regulations mean and the latest information we have about the disease.

Where do I go for help?

If you think you might have Covid-19 symptoms, ring Healthline (0800 358 5453) or your doctor. For general inquiries, call the free Government helpline on 0800 779 997 (8am–1am, 7 days a week) or the official information site covid19.govt.nz. For the latest updates follow nzherald.co.nz and email us your questions at newsdesk@nzherald.co.nz.

We're now at level 3 - what does that mean?

All bars, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries and other places where people gather are closed. Restaurants are takeaway-only until 11.59pm on Wednesday. Weddings, birthday celebrations and other gatherings - indoors and out - must be cancelled.

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All schools and early childhood centres are closed from today, except those attended by the children of people working in the emergency services. Universities and other tertiary institutions are closed.

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Essential services such as supermarkets, banks, GPs, pharmacies, service stations and couriers will remain open.

Everyone is urged to stay at home as much as possible as the country prepares to move to alert level 4.

What will alert level 4 mean?

From 11.59pm on Wednesday, New Zealand effectively goes into lockdown. All non-essential businesses will remain closed, as at alert level 3, and everyone will have to stay at home except for solitary exercise, or visiting essential services.

The minimum lockdown period is four weeks. Coronavirus case numbers are expected to continue rising for about two weeks as more New Zealanders return from overseas, some of them carrying the virus. The Government has warned that things are likely to get worse before they get better.

What should I do before the lockdown?

First, don't panic. You will still be able to go to the supermarket and buy food, as food production and supply chains will continue more or less as normal.

But you should prepare and start making arrangements.

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This includes making plans with your families and loved ones. If you want to be with another person through the lockdown, organise it now. Cross-household links can be managed as long as everyone stays within the same extended family "bubble". For instance, if you co-parent and can share your children within your self-isolation, you should continue to do so. If your child has a regular carer, they can continue to care for the child as long as they do not have contact with anyone else.

You should already know if you're able to work from home.

If you're in a different part of the country, you should make immediate arrangements to get home. If you're still overseas, the Government has warned you may have to prepare to stay there, as most transit routes into New Zealand have now shut.

There will be allowances for people not able to get home by Wednesday, but you should call the Covid-19 information helpline on 0800 779 997 to let them know your circumstances and get advice.

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.

Can I still go outside?

Yes. You can still go to the supermarket, go for a walk, exercise and take the children to a field or the dog for a walk.

But you won't be able to interact with people outside of your self-isolation group. For example, you can take your children to the beach but they shouldn't play with other children. If you go to a park, keep the children away from playground equipment.

Keep at least 2 metres away from other people at all times and don't go out at all if you are coughing, sneezing or have a runny nose.

The goal of the lockdown is to limit the spread of the virus, so don't look for ways to get around it. Meeting a friend for lunch or seeing a family member outside your household risks spreading Covid 19 across the community and the country.

At the end of the four weeks, the Government will assess the risk and community spread and decide if it's safe to drop the level to 3.

Schools and non-essential services across New Zealand will be closed for the next four weeks after the Government put the country in lockdown to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.

How will it be enforced?

Compliance with the lockdown will be enforced by the police and the New Zealand Defence Force.

Police commissioner Mike Bush says police will aim to encourage and educate people first but will enforce the lockdown if they have to, with the help of the army if necessary.

The Government is also looking at measures to enforce quarantine on people who refuse to observe the restrictions, including separate camps like the one established at Whangaparaoa after the mercy flight from China last month.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has hinted that some form of compulsory quarantine could soon apply to all New Zealanders coming home but there has been no announcement yet.

What will still be open?

Essential services such as supermarkets, banks, GPs, pharmacies, power companies, service stations and couriers will remain open.

The list also includes food and beverage production, food processing, building and construction, social services, emergency services, vets, NZ Post, KiwiRail and news media.

You can find a full list of essential services here.

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

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New Zealand's coronavirus lockdown will be managed by a leadership team of some of the country's top officials. That team is Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health, Sarah Stuart-Black, Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management, Mike Bush, Commissioner of Police, and Dr Peter Crabtree.

The Government is urging people not to panic-buy and stockpile groceries or pharmaceuticals, saying there is plenty of food to go around if everyone shops normally.
Police will intervene to keep supermarkets safe and maintain order if needed.

Public transport will continue to operate for essential services only.

Parliament will be adjourned for the four-week lockdown, with an overview group including the Opposition to keep the Government accountable for its decisions. The Budget is still planned for May 14 but may be delayed.

What happens to schools?

for everyone except the children of identified essential workers who will have until midnight Wednesday to make arrangements.

The school holidays have been brought forward so they'll fall inside the four-week lockdown.

The Government is working to support schools and other education facilities to teach students online while at home. This includes ensuring all children have broadband and devices they could work on.

Will I still get paid?

Employers should do everything possible to allow staff to work from home.

If that can't be done, all employers have access to the Government's wage subsidy scheme.

That means full-time employees should get $585 a week for up to 12 weeks and part-time employees (fewer than 20 hours a week) should get $350 a week.

This will be paid through normal payroll channels.

How will I pay my mortgage?

Banks have offered a six-month mortgage holiday for anyone unable to make payments because of the virus. Details will be unveiled by the banks in the next few days.

The $6.25 billion Business Finance Guarantee Scheme will include a limit of $500,000 per loan and will apply to firms with a turnover of between $250,000 and $80 million per annum. The loans will be for a maximum of three years.

The Government will carry 80 per cent of the credit risk, with the other 20 per cent to be carried by the banks.

The Government has announced a freeze on rent rises and 90-day evictions without cause. Visas for overseas workers and visitors will be extended as necessary.

The Government has announced a six-month mortgage holiday for those whose incomes have been affected by Covid-19.

Will I still be able to online shop?

If you need something like a new board game or shoes, you might still be able to buy them online as long as the business is still able to operate with all its employees at home.

Couriers and NZ Post will continue to operate.

But it might be that many online stores aren't able to stay open so that might limit what you can buy.

You could always look for goods on sites like Facebook Marketplace and Trade Me, as long as the items are posted or are collected in a way that you don't come into close proximity with another person.

What happens to restaurants?

Restaurants should be takeaway-only until New Zealand moves to alert level 4, and then they will have to shut down.

This means there won't be any fast food or takeaway options during the lockdown and you will have to cook for your family.

It's not yet clear whether weekly meal kits will be able to continue operating.

For meal ideas, NZ Herald has its Eat Well website with lots of recipes.

What happens to those trapped in a home with domestic violence?

Police say they're aware of the increased danger and it will be a top priority for them. Anyone with concerns, including neighbours, should contact them. If it's an emergency,
call 111 or ask someone to ring for you. You can also call Women's Refuge for free, 24/7 on 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The symptoms often start in the back of the throat with a sore throat and a dry cough.

Other symptoms — fever, shortness of breath, body aches, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea — can signal any number of illnesses, from flu to strep to the common cold.

How do you catch it?

The virus is spread through droplets transmitted into the air from coughing or sneezing, which people nearby can take in through their nose, mouth or eyes.

The viral particles in these droplets travel quickly to the back of your nasal passages and to the mucous membranes in the back of your throat, attaching to a particular receptor in cells, beginning there.

What can I do to prevent it?

Stay at home. Practise good hygiene, regularly washing and thoroughly drying your hands.
Washing hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and drying them thoroughly, before eating or handling food, after using the toilet, after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping children's noses, or after caring for sick people can help prevent spreading the disease.

How do you treat it?

There is no specific treatment for coronavirus, but medical care can treat most of the symptoms.

This could involve prescribing antiviral medication used to treat influenza, or antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections.

Researchers in many countries are working on developing a vaccine.

How many cases do we have?

See our interactive graphic below for updated totals of the number of people who have become sick, died and recovered internationally.