Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says there is not "one point in time" when the fight against Covid-19 will be over, and the recovery room of alert level 3 didn't mean New Zealand was "out of the woods".
The Government has announced 35 new employment centres across the country to connect employers with job seekers under level 3.
But continuing to stamp out Covid-19 was also the best economic response, Ardern said at her post-Cabinet press conference today.
"We will have to keep stamping Covid out until there is a vaccine."
She repeated again that elimination of Covid-19 did not mean zero cases, and though she said yesterday that the virus was "currently" effectively eliminated, she stressed that it was an ongoing battle.
There may still be some "smouldering ashes" of Covid-19 in New Zealand, and they had the potential to become a wildfire if given the chance.
"No one wants a second wave in New Zealand," she said.
"We must continue to stay home if possible."
She said about 75 per cent of the economy was operating at level 3, which started today, and there were now about 1 million New Zealanders at work. Road and rail projects were back up and running, but many workers had been displaced.
Small businesses were feeling the pain and Ardern said they can operate if they can do so safely.
She urged commercial landlords to come to a workable arrangement for their tenants, but did not say whether the Government was considering legislative changes to enable commercial rent freezes.
Not every business was going to survive, but the Government was looking to support those that were "vulnerable but viable".
The wage subsidy was also about meeting cashflow issues, and most of the $10.4 billion in allocated so far in the scheme had gone to small businesses.
Schools and ECE centres are opening tomorrow, but Ardern said the numbers of returning students was going to be "very low".
"That's as it should be."
Ardern's media address followed director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield announcing three new Covid-19 cases in NZ, made up of two confirmed cases and one probable case.
Two are all linked to known cases, and one is under investigation.
The total number of confirmed and probable cases is 1472.
Thirty four more people have recovered, meaning 82 per cent have now recovered. There are nine people in hospital, including one person in the ICU in Middlemore.
The Government announced a boost for people facing job losses as a result of Covid-19 to help their find new work, or retrain for another job.
Ministry of Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced the extra measures alongside the Prime Minister today, under a "Keep New Zealand Working" tag.
It was announced as benefit numbers started to rise: 90 per cent of the weekly increase in main benefits had been for Jobseeker Support, with 7,694 more people coming onto a benefit – 6,991 for Jobseeker Support.
"The increase in benefit numbers was expected. It's a global phenomenon," Sepuloni said.
"Countries that we compare ourselves to like the US, UK and Australia are experiencing dramatic increases in unemployment during Covid-19. We are not alone."
The package includes:
• An online recruitment tool to connect job seekers directly to an employer making it quicker and easier for people to find work. It also provides online training courses.
• Thirty five new employment centres across the country working with employers and job seekers under level 3, over the phone and online. Under level 2 face-to-face engagement with clients, employers and providers will begin.
• An employment service for those directly impacted by Covid-19 who are not on a main benefit.
• A fast-tracking service for those benefit applicants who need to re-engage quickly with the job market.
• Working in partnership with industry to provide upskilling, for example the new free online Community Health course with NZQA Unit Standards.
"Unemployment will rise before it improves. In response we need to act quickly and proactively," Sepuloni said.
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Yesterday, Ardern said Covid-19 in New Zealand was "currently eliminated" given there are so few cases and the Government knows where they are and have got them contained.
"It's been nearly five weeks living and working in ways that just two months ago would have seemed like fiction," she told media.
"But we did. And we did it together," she said.
For the first time in a month, the House will sit today – albeit scaled back significantly.
Although the signs are looking good when it comes to New Zealand's Covid-19 fight, Ardern continues to urge people to remain vigilant.
"We must make sure that we do not let the virus run away on us again and cause a new wave of cases and deaths," she told media last night.
When asked by Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking if the Government was being too conservative, Ardern this morning said: "We are doing what's right for New Zealand".
"I have a lot of faith in New Zealanders."