KEY POINTS
• Coronavirus alert level moved to 3 - moving to level 4 at 11.59pm on Wednesday
• All non-essential businesses or services - bars, cafes, gyms, cinemas - to close
• NZ will be in coronavirus lockdown for four weeks from 11.59pm Wednesday
• From then, Kiwis should stay at home unless visiting an essential service
• PM says the cost of doing nothing could be tens of thousands of lives
• Govt to borrow tens of billions as it moves to ensure income for all New Zealanders
What it means for schools, universities and other education facilities.
What alert level 3 and 4 means for businesses and staff
What the lockdown means for parents with shared custody


New Zealanders are bracing for four weeks of house-bound life and a ban on non-essential travel, with a coronavirus lockdown needed to save "tens of thousands" of lives, says the Prime Minister.

And Jacinda Ardern told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking this morning that while New Zealand's cases - currently at 102 - would rise, the goal now was to ease the pace. She said panic-buying was problematic, but unnecessary.

ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER LIVE BLOG BELOW

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New Zealand's population of almost five million is among at least 1.5 billion people - or one fifth of the world's population - who have been told to now stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The pandemic has claimed more than 15,000 lives, with more than 350,000 cases in total. New Zealand has 102 cases.

The dangers to Europe and the US have grown exponentially, and the UK is set to announce today an even stricter lockdown policy that will likely include the closure of all shops except supermarkets, food stores and pharmacies. The new measures come as the NHS announced 46 more people have died from Covid-19 in England in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of UK deaths to 335.

Across the Tasman, experts warn up to 15 million Australians could contract coronavirus within months as cases continue to skyrocket. Australia has recorded 1717 cases of the virus across all states with seven deaths so far.

The NZ Herald frontpage from this morning.
The NZ Herald frontpage from this morning.

Italy has banned domestic travel and shut down a range of industries as its PM begs for a final 10-day push to stop the spread of coronavirus. Italy has become the hardest hit country outside of China. It has recorded 59,138 cases, 5476 deaths and 7024 recovered from the disease.

In New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern warned that doing something as simple as meeting a friend for lunch could imperil lives and see Covid-19 alert level 4 - which comes into effect at 11.59pm on Wednesday - extended.

In the latest in a series of increasingly extreme measures, New Zealand streets will empty from midnight tomorrow as schools and universities close and non-essential services - including bars, restaurants, gyms, cinemas, museums and libraries - all shut up shop.

Instead there will be a strong presence of police and the military, who could quarantine those without a legit reason to be out of their homes.

Valid reasons include being involved in essential services such as supermarkets, banks, GPs, pharmacies and service stations, or getting supplies from such services.

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READ MORE:
Coronavirus: Four Auckland schools linked to Covid-19 in one day
Covid-19 coronavirus: What will alert level 4 mean for New Zealand?
Coronavirus: What Covid-19 alert levels 3 and 4 mean for you and your family
Covid 19 coronavirus alert 3: New Zealand to move to alert 4 lockdown for next four weeks - Jacinda Ardern says schools closed, essential services only

"Kiwis - go home ... If in doubt, don't go out," Ardern said of alert level 4.

Ardern announced the imminent nationwide lockdown after community transmission was confirmed in two cases - one in Auckland and one in the Wairarapa - and after seeing modelling that showed the potential for tens of thousands of deaths.


LISTEN LIVE: NEWSTALK ZB - Jacinda Ardern joins Mike Hosking at 7.05am and Grant Robertson joins at 8.05am.

"The worst-case scenario is simply intolerable," Ardern said.

It came after 36 new cases were confirmed yesterday, the most in a single day in New Zealand, bringing the total number of cases to 102.

Ardern was also mindful of what happened in Italy, where cases exploded from five to more than 40,000 in just four weeks.

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"If community transmission takes off in New Zealand, the number of cases will double every five days," she said.

"If that happens unchecked, our health system will be inundated, and thousands of New Zealanders will die."

Yesterday Ardern moved the country to alert level 3 immediately, but her plea to shop normally fell on deaf ears as New Zealanders inundated supermarkets, butcheries, pharmacies and liquor stores.

Queues at Pak N Save Wairau Road, North Shore, Auckland, after the Prime Minister announced that the country would go into full nationwide lockdown. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Queues at Pak N Save Wairau Road, North Shore, Auckland, after the Prime Minister announced that the country would go into full nationwide lockdown. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Others flooded the Government helpline for lockdown queries (0800 779 997) with questions about people unable to make it home by midnight tomorrow, or whether parents could visit children who lived in a different home - queries officials are scrambling to answer as they work out the finer details of alert level 4.

Many also had questions about pay as many businesses will be forced to shut shop, and the Government is now set to borrow tens of billions to guarantee some sort of universal income.

Millions of workers will likely be affected, though Finance Minister Grant Robertson would not put a number on it.

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"We'll make sure that all New Zealanders will continue to receive some form of income through this period," he said.

Covid-19 coronavirus: What you need to know about Monday's big developments.

Robertson also promised "significant support" for mortgage holders - which may be a no-interest period - and a guarantee scheme for businesses, though details are still being worked out.

He also announced a freeze on all rents and an extension to the Government's wage subsidy scheme to include all coronavirus-affected businesses, pushing the cost of the scheme from $5.1b to $9.3b.

ALERT_STAGES
All schools are now closed for everyone except the children of identified essential workers, who will have until midnight on Wednesday to make arrangements.

Public transport will remain open to those working in or accessing essential services, but Ardern asked people to prepare to stay at home in self-isolation.

But that didn't mean being house-bound all the time, she added.

"You can leave your home for fresh air, a walk, exercise. To take your children outside. But remember the simple principle. It must be solitary.

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"We are asking that you only spend time with those you are in self-isolation with. And if you are outside, keep your distance from others. That means two metres at all times.

"This is the single most important thing we can do right now to stop further community transmission."

Ardern said rigorous Covid-19 testing would continue and, depending on the presence of the diseases, alert level 4 could be eased for certain communities.

But she warned it could also be extended.

"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."

Police Commissioner Mike Bush, who is in charge of operations in the Government's lockdown taskforce, said he hoped New Zealand would comply with alert level 4.

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But police would enforce it, if necessary.

"If they don't comply, they will be endangering people's lives - people will die."

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