New Zealand's first man Clarke Gayford has thanked New Zealanders for checking in on him and his family, as he asked the country to listen to his partner's statement on Covid-19 earlier today.

"Hey NZers please watch/listen to the address at midday today for latest Covid update," he tweeted earlier this morning.

"Thanks to everyone asking after us, we are fine, bit tired and someone's not seen much of her mum lately but otherwise sweet as. #WashYourHands"

At midday today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a statement to the nation, announcing a new alert system to help contain the "tidal wave" of Covid-19 across the country.


She said New Zealand had warning systems, and an alert system was now in place for Covid-19 that could apply to the whole country, or to certain places or towns.

Neve Ardern Gayford with her parents Clarke Gayford and Jacinda Ardern, along with Minister of Defence Ron Mark in June. Photo / File
Neve Ardern Gayford with her parents Clarke Gayford and Jacinda Ardern, along with Minister of Defence Ron Mark in June. Photo / File

Ardern said at all levels of the alert system, essential services would still run.

She said there were four alert levels to the system.

"Alert level one is where Covid-19 is here, but contained. In this phase we prepare. The basics, like border measures, contact tracing, and cancelling mass gatherings are activated. You'll see that this is where we have been when Covid first arrived in New Zealand.

"Alert level two is where the disease is contained but the risks are growing because we have more cases. This is when we move to reduce our contact with one another. We increase our border measures, and we cancel events. This is also the level where we ask people to work differently if they can, and cancel unnecessary travel.

"Alert level three is where the disease is increasingly difficult to contain. This is where we restrict our contact by stepping things up again. We close public venues and ask non-essential businesses to close.

"Alert level four is where we have sustained transmission. This is where we eliminate contact with each other altogether. We keep essential services going but ask everyone to stay at home until Covid-19 is back under control."

As New Zealand currently sits on level two of the system, Ardern has asked all New Zealanders to limit non-essential domestic travel.


The Prime Minister, who usually resides in Auckland, has made the decision to base herself in Wellington and other MPs have made similar arrangements.

All MPs have also been asked to cancel non-essential travel.

People over 70 or with compromised immunity should stay at home as much as possible, Ardern said.

There are 528,000 people aged 70-plus in New Zealand.

Friends and neighbours needed to support people in this group, she said, by dropping off supplies where possible, Ardern said.

"Please do stay tuned, and we will share daily updates," she said during her statement.

"I ask what New Zealand does what we do so well. We are a country that is creative and community-minded.

"We know how to rally. We know how to look after one another.

"Be strong, be kind, and unite against Covid-19."