Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has detailed what life would look like at alert level 3, as the Government prepares for a decision on whether to lift New Zealand's nationwide lockdown next Thursday. Get all the important news and read the full stories in the links below.
Key developments in NZ
• Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has revealed what life will be like in alert level 3 as New Zealand continues fighting to stamp out Covid-19 - but the Government won't announce whether we move down to level 3 until Monday. New Zealand has recorded 1401 cases of coronavirus with 15 new cases announced today, and the decreasing amount of new cases has created calls for a move to alert level 3 when the lockdown ends at 11.59pm next Wednesday. And, while major restrictions will remain, Ardern detailed what alert level 3 would mean for New Zealanders – including the ability for food deliveries and e-commerce to reopen. According to the Restaurant Association, the opportunity for restaurants, bars and cafes to provide delivery and takeaway options to customers would be "a lifeline" for the hospitality industry.
• School principals have serious concerns about the Government's decision to make physical school attendance "voluntary" when the country moves to alert level 3. Principals' Federation president Perry Rush said there had been no consultation with principals before Ardern announced that early childhood centres and schools "will be available up to Year 10 only, but attendance is purely voluntary". "For children who are able, distance learning is still the best option," she said. Rush has concerns about how teachers will juggle the dual focus of teaching a class in the classroom and supporting other students at home at the same time.
• Nine deaths have been linked to Covid-19 in New Zealand since the start of the pandemic. Four of the deaths were announced yesterday, the single biggest spike in deaths in one day - a "sobering reminder" of what's at stake, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said. All of those who have died thus far were over the age of 70 and had underlying health conditions. Here's what we know about the cases.
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Around the world
• Germany is to ease its lockdown measures by allowing small, non-essential shops to reopen next week. However, social distancing measures will remain in force until May 3 and all large public events have been banned until the end of August. Under the measures, all shops of up to 800sqm in floor area will be allowed to open from Monday, provided they put in place hygiene measures. Schools will reopen gradually from May 4, with priority given to classes facing imminent exams. Kindergartens and primary school classes for younger children will remain closed as they cannot observe social distancing rules.
• Global coronavirus cases passed more than two million overnight, according to a tally of official numbers. At least 2,000,576 infections, including 126,871 deaths, have been recorded. Europe is the hardest hit continent, with 1,010,858 cases and 85,271 fatalities. The United States, where the virus is spreading most rapidly, registered 609,240 cases, and 26,033 deaths.
• In the six days after top Chinese officials secretly determined they likely were facing a pandemic from a new coronavirus, the city of Wuhan at the epicentre of the disease hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people, and millions began travelling through for Lunar New Year celebrations. President Xi Jinping warned the public on the seventh day, January 20, but by that time, more than 3000 people had been infected during almost a week of public silence. China's attempt to walk a line between alerting the public and avoiding panic set the stage for a pandemic.
• Former finance minister Steven Joyce says it is a "pie in the sky" fantasy to suggest New Zealand can eliminate Covid-19, and remaining in lockdown would cause "massive" economic damage. New Zealand and the world were almost certain to be hit with more waves of coronavirus outbreaks and so staying in lockdown would cause irreparable financial damage to many Kiwi businesses, Joyce said, arguing that most Kiwis are underplaying the economic hit that was coming.
• Trade expert Charles Finny has warned that the impact of Covid-19 crisis could see New Zealand even more dependent on China and agriculture. Finny, a Wellington lobbyist and former diplomat, told MPs on the Epidemic Response Committee that extra dependence on China could be exploited, as China had previously used trade dependency for political purposes. Finny also told MPs that New Zealand needed a 10-point plan to restart trade, including an immediate resumption of manufactured exports and logging, otherwise New Zealand companies would lose contracts.
• The Government's $3.1 billion tax relief package for small businesses has been labelled grossly inadequate by the Auckland business community, who says it fails to provide the "cash in the hand" desperately needed. Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck represents the interests of 10,000 central Auckland businesses, and said Tuesday's business support package "falls short of the mark" in a lack of direct financial support and commercial rent assistance.
• New Zealand's top rugby players could lose as much as $25 million combined this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. New Zealand Rugby this afternoon confirmed that approximately $25 million, or 50 per cent, of the remaining forecasted player spend will be frozen as a result of the crisis which has seen sport halted around the world. The pay cuts apply predominantly to players contracted at Super Rugby level (including All Blacks), in the national sevens programmes, and the Black Ferns - with NZR attempting to protect players on retainers of less than $50,000.
Check our graphic for the latest case numbers in New Zealand.