Lower Hutt will stop enforcing parking charges as the country enters into a period of coronavirus lockdown.

Mayor Campbell Barry said parking charges would not be enforced until the Covid-19 alert level is raised to four in the next 48 hours.

"This will enable people to access essential services in our city without any charge for parking. It is a compassionate and proactive step we can take during what is a period of uncertainty in our community," Barry said.

"We are suspending charges initially for 48 hours. This may be extended following consideration by council tomorrow.

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"Essential services will continue to operate during the lockdown period – so there is absolutely no need for people to panic-buy."

Hutt City Council will consider a range of further measures in response to coronavirus at its full meeting tomorrow.

"This is an unprecedented situation, and we are looking to respond in an appropriate way. This will include establishing emergency delegations, to make sure we can continue to run our city and make necessary decisions," he said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this afternoon announced the country has reached alert level 3, and that by midnight Wednesday it will have entered level 4.