Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has this evening gone live to answer New Zealanders' questions about the Covid-19 lockdown.

It was today announced 83 new cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed in New Zealand, bringing the country's total number of cases to 451.

Ardern spoke during a Facebook livestream at 6pm about the numbers of New Zealanders infected with the virus.

"The reason we were really upfront about four weeks was because we need to get through the cycle of this virus," Ardern said.

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"There's a lag to Covid and you will have noticed that from the discussion around how long it takes before people are symptomatic. The effects of what we are doing now, we won't see for about 10 to 12 days.

"We are probably only now just seeing some of the effects of the changes we made to our border control."

Ardern said she couldn't yet give New Zealanders an answer to whether the lockdown would be longer than four weeks.

"But you'll see from our numbers whether or not we are on track."

She said one of the questions she keeps getting asked was around the wage subsidy.

"As you know, the wage subsidy is roughly $585 per week for full-time and $350 for part-time and goes straight to employers."

She asked employers to do their best to pay their workers at least 80 per cent of what they would usually be paid.

"For those part-time workers who might be earning less than that amount, really what we are asking employers is to pay [workers] what their normal hours would be."

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"Ultimately our hope is to keep everyone connected to the workforce as much as possible."

She said about wages that "we want to get money out the door to employees as fast as possible. One of the ways we can ensure employers aren't abusing this is to publish the names of the companies who are getting the wage subsidy."

In terms of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline medical staff - particularly face masks - Ardern said "we are very lucky to have a company in Whanganui that produces 80,000 masks a day".

"That will help with our supplies. We already have 18 million masks in our national supply which are already being dispatched.

"I really want to tighten up on the distribution process," she said.

She said the Ministry of Health would be putting up requirements about PPE for every essential sector needing it.

The Ministry of Education was working on resources and ideas on how to best help children that might not have access to online learning, she said.

"I hope we will be able to say something more on that soon."

The Prime Minister asked that if anyone was having tenancy problems to contact their MP.

"We have been very concerned about people losing their accommodation during this lockdown so we have said no evictions during this period."

About driver's licences and warrants of fitness that were about to expire and can't currently be renewed, she said: "We are working on that".

And to everyone celebrating birthdays during the lockdown, the Prime Minister said she knew it would be a very different way to celebrate but she hoped they could still find ways to connect with friends and family via Skype or Zoom.

"I wish all of you happy isolated birthday."

Ardern said those feeling nervous about being pregnant should be extra cautious and touch base with their GP.

Today's new cases weren't a significant increase on yesterday's figure, but director of Civil Defence Emergency Management Sarah Stuart-Black at the 1pm update said the Government still expected the total number to continue to climb for some days.

She said 50 people had recovered. Twelve people were in hospital, including two in intensive care – one on a ventilator.

She could not say what hospitals the two people in intensive care were in, but patients were in Wellington (three), Nelson (two), Whangārei (two) and one each in Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki, Dunedin and Greymouth.

Stuart-Black said there were five known "clusters" of people with coronavirus in New Zealand.

Over a seven-day period, the average number of daily tests for coronavirus was 1613. Stuart-Black said people who had been tested should remain in self-isolation.

She urged people to be kind to each other.

She said there had been reports of online abuse towards people who have Covid-19 and that was not acceptable: "We need to look out for each other now more than ever."

All of Government controller John Ombler said the Government was "very pleased" with how most New Zealanders were behaving during the lockdown.

"It's only been two days since we have been living this new way of life."

He said most people were following the new rules - but there had been a few reports of people congregating.

He reiterated it was important for people to remain at home - especially if they were sick - and stay local: "Stick to your bubble".


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He had heard reports of people playing touch rugby and said: "That's just stupid; don't do it".

He called on people to avoid public space and not to go to a second home, or a bach.

No one had been arrested for breaching the lockdown, he added.

He said the Government was working on issues such as New Zealanders returning to the country not having enough food and the Red Cross had been sent to some hotels where overseas visitors were staying.

"Getting New Zealanders home during a state of emergency has been an exceptionally difficult task," he said.

He added that "no one needs to worry" about supermarkets running out of food and urged households to nominate one person to do the shopping.

Ombler thanked all essential workers, such as frontline health workers and people working in food distribution and in supermarkets.

Information about PPEs was now available online, he said, tailored for different sectors.


"We're all in this together - let's keep up the good work."

Repatriation flights from overseas have been coming mostly to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Stuart-Black said most cases in New Zealand continue to be linked to overseas.

She said there was a small number of Air NZ staff infected with Covid-19. Air NZ will be making a public announcement later today.

The advice to staff was "if in doubt" self-isolate, she said.

Ardern reiterated this morning that she expected the number of Covid-19 cases in New Zealand to increase for at least the next 10 days.

"Don't be disheartened when you continue to see our numbers increase – I expect that we will have a number of cases and those cases will grow steeply because of the lag of Covid-19," she told the Nation.

In terms of how long New Zealand will be in lockdown for, Ardern said that "all depends on the compliance of New Zealanders".

But she said the Government will have a "good idea" as the country continues to go through the lockdown.

Until then, however, New Zealand's compliance level needs to be high.

"We just can't tolerate anyone flouting the rules."

But she said she "believes in New Zealanders – I have faith in us as a nation to do this".

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