The country is set to go into lockdown for four weeks beginning midnight tomorrow. What does that mean? The Herald answers your questions.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lifted the country's emergency alert level to 3 yesterday, with forewarning of it moving to level 4, effective midnight Wednesday.

The call was made after a jump in new cases of 36 people, bringing the total to 102 overall. Two of those - one in Wairarapa and one in Auckland - are being regarded as community transmission because it's unclear where the source came from.

As the country goes into lockdown, people are still uncertaint. Many have come to the Herald with questions. Here, we start to answer them. Please keep the questions coming - you can ask via the liveblog at the bottom of this article.


What will remain open during the lockdown?

As Ardern is continuing to stress that supermarkets, service stations, pharmacies, court staff, banks, GPs, couriers, waste removal and internet services will remain open as they're deemed an 'essential service' to keep the country running.

Accommodation providers, building and construction related to essential services, businesses involved in the supply, delivery, distribution and sale of food, beverages and other key consumer goods (but not take-away shops), healthcare providers including hospitals, morturaries, food and beverage production - including fruit picking - vets, researchers involved in Covid-19 related response, taxis and ride shares and welfare services.

Public transport will only be open to those working in essential services, for medical reasons, or to move essential goods – including ferry services between the North and South Island.

However, services such as hairdressing will be closed as it is not classed as 'essential'.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the stage four lockdown on Monday afternoon. Photo / Getty Images
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the stage four lockdown on Monday afternoon. Photo / Getty Images

Can I go for a walk during the lockdown?

While the Prime Minister is reminding people they can go and get fresh air at a local park, and throw a ball around with the kids, she is urging people not to go near any playground equipment.

The Department of Conservation has shut all of its visitor centres and cancelled all hut and campsite bookings. It includes all Great Walks bookings for the rest of the season up to 30 June 2020. People will get a full refund.


It also includes the closing of popular tourist spots including Cape Reinga.

IMPORTANT NOTICE CLOSURE!!! Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga) as of tomorrow morning the gate to the Cape will be locked...

Posted by Ngāti Kuri on Monday, 23 March 2020

It is currently advising day trips only, but the Herald has asked DoC whether all of its treks and walks will be closed.

What will happen if I flout the lockdown?

There will be both a military and police presence during the four-week lockdown, ensuring people adhere to the Government's conditions. They would be there to enforce but Ardern hoped the public wouldn't be scared by their presence.

What about my rent or mortgage payments?

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has been talking to banks to ensure that nobody will lose their home due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The relief on mortgage holders would have a flow-on effect to the approximate 1.5 million renters around the country.

Robertson yesterday announced a "freeze" on both rent increases and no-cause terminations of rental agreements "during this difficult time".

Will the four-week lockdown fix the coronavirus outbreak?

Ardern told media today the number of cases will get worse in the next fortnight before it gets better.

Can I isolate myself in a campervan and drive around the country during lockdown?

No. The NZ Motor Campervan Association today announced that in light of the imminent level 4 alert, it is closing all of its parks.

Those currently in an NZMCA park are being urged to make their way home and states there are "no exceptions".

Auckland Council has also announced all their campgrounds are closing while Environment Canterbury has confirmed it will also close NZMCA campgrounds within 48 hours.

What if I'm still stuck overseas and trying to get home?

Ardern today told TVNZ that there would a further announcement to help stranded Kiwis get home.

"I'm not done with our borders yet," she said.

Covid-19 coronavirus: What the lockdown means for you and how it will be enforced
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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
Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown: What is an 'essential' service that can stay open?

Is there anywhere in New Zealand without any Covid-19 cases?

Yes. Ardern told The AM Show neither the West Coast or East Coast had so far reported any cases. She noted both areas were quite isolated.

Has anyone died of Covid-19 yet in New Zealand?

No. Of the 102 cases only five are currently in hospital but none require intensive care treatment.

However, officials had doubled the country's capacity in its intensive and high dependency units to 500 beds.

People are swamping supermarkets - how much have they spent?

Good question. Paymark figures released today show spending at food and liquor stores, including supermarkets, skyrocketed compared to the same Monday last year.

Spending was up 157 per cent, reaching $111 million.

That was nearly as high as Christmas Eve shoppers in 2019 when $117 million was spent.

Pharmacy spending was up 122 per cent yesterday on the year before, however accommodation providers and restaurants, cafes and bars were not fearing as well, going down 59 per cent and 44 per cent respectively.

For the week ending Sunday, total spending through Paymark was $1.3 billion, up 7.5 per cent. The biggest percentages again coming from food and liquor shops (+51.8 per cent) and pharmacies (+81.0 per cent). The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website