At 11.59pm today, New Zealand will go into an extreme and unprecedented nationwide lockdown.

All non-essential businesses will be closed and everyone will have to stay at home except for solitary exercise and visiting essential services.

Supermarkets will stay open throughout the four-week lockdown and the supply chain will stay running.

The Government is also in an unprecedented situation so if an answer isn't available, the lockdown taskforce will update its advice as situations develop.

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When does the Covid-19 lockdown start?

The lockdown will start at 11.59pm today. The coronavirus alert level will rise to 4 because two cases of Covid-19 have been identified as community transmission.

What should I do before the lockdown?

Don't panic. You will still be able to go to the supermarket where there will be food.

All of Government controller John Ombler, who heads the lockdown taskforce, said the supply chain will stay operational.

But you should prepare and start making arrangements.

This includes making plans with families and loved ones, getting contact details within your community and thinking about how you'll make it through the lockdown.

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

If you're in a different part of the country, make immediate arrangements to get home.

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

The Government also has not ruled out roadblocks, but is hoping they're not necessary.

Can I still go outside?

Yes. You can still go to the supermarket, exercise or walk the dog.

But you won't be able to interact with people outside of your self-isolation bubble.

Act as if you're infected with coronavirus and do everything you can to avoid infecting anyone else.

Do not leave your house unless you are going to an essential service, most likely the supermarket or the doctor.

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If you have an office or a bach, you cannot move between the two even if you don't come into contact with anyone. Stay home at almost all times of the day.

The goal of the lockdown is to limit the spread of the virus and if you're looking for exceptions to the rule, you've missed the point of it and means other New Zealanders would die, said Ombler.

Flouting the rules or finding a loophole could also mean New Zealand stays in lockdown for longer than four weeks, said Ardern.

"If you hang out with that friend at a park or see that family member for lunch, you risk spreading Covid-19 and extending everyone's time in level 4."

This is, quite literally, a matter of life or death.

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.

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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.

What if I co-parent?

The goal of the lockdown is to limit human interaction and contain the spread of Covid-19.

If you are able to share your children within your self-isolation, do so.

If this isn't possible, the Government is working on advice. In the meantime call the information helpline on 0800 779 997.

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, who is on the Government's lockdown taskforce, said Kiwis could expect to see a strong police presence on the street.

There is likely to also be some military presence.

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"I can understand that seeing an increase in presence by police and our military may not be what we're used to in New Zealand, but they will be working together," Ardern said.

Authorities have the power to enforce the lockdown if they see people flouting the rules.

Bush said: "It's about education and encouragement. We don't want to get into a place where we have to enforce these directions, but we will if required."

The Government is also looking at measures to enforce quarantine on people who refuse to, director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said.

Options being considered include those at Whangaparaoa after the mercy flight from China last month.

What is considered an essential service?

Supermarkets and the supply chain that keeps them stocked will stay in operation.

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You shouldn't panic shop and stockpile groceries or pharmaceuticals.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there will be "plenty of food to go around".

There aren't yet any rules about what happens at supermarkets and authorities are hoping it won't get to the point that strict controls are needed.

But Bush said police would intervene to keep supermarkets safe and maintain order if needed.

Doctors, pharmacists and vets will stay open, as well as emergency services and some construction activity.

Public transport will continue to operate.

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The media, including the NZ Herald, nzherald.co.nz, Newstalk ZB and NZME's stable of five regional newspapers and other radio stations, will continue to bring you essential updates and information, practical advice and analysis. We will get answers to your questions.

Parliament will be adjourned for the four-week lockdown but a group, like a Select Committee with the Opposition and others, will be established to keep the Government accountable for its decisions.

You can find a full list of essential services here.

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

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.

What happens to schools?

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

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

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Outside, the Government is working to support schools and other education facilities teach students online.

This includes ensuring all children have broadband and devices they could work on.

Will I still get paid?

Your employer should do everything it can to allow you to work from home.

If that's not possible, your employer has access to the Government's wage subsidy scheme if only on the condition that they continue to pay you 80 per cent of your normal salary for 12 weeks and make best efforts to keep you employed.

Employers can apply for the Covid-19 leave payment that would pay their employee $585.50 a week for full-time workers. Part-time employees (fewer than 20 hours a week) should get $350 a week for 12 weeks.

This will be paid through your normal payroll channels.

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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 TradeMe, as long as the items are posted or are collected in a way so that you don't come into close proximity with the other 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. a

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It's not yet clear whether weekly meal kit delivery companies 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 domestic violence home?

The idea of being forced to stay in your home is a terrifying prospect for many people.

Bush said in other countries that had nationwide lockdowns, domestic violence increased so it was top of police's priority list.

He urged anyone suffering domestic violence to get in touch and asked anyone, including neighbours, to contact them if they had concerns about someone.

If you're in danger now, call 111 or ask someone to ring for you. You should run outside and scream for help.

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You can also call Women's Refuge for free, 24/7 on 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843.

What if I need to travel urgently during the lockdown?


Ombler said people should contact 0800 779 997 if they had questions and the Government would update its advice.

They are working to find solutions as and when questions and scenarios arise.