Local business leaders, politicans and school principals have united in support as the country prepares to lockdown in the wake of Covid-19.

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Byrce Heard said shutting down businesses "is the lesser of two evils".

The measures announced were "unpleasant" for businesses but "if it [Covid-19] gets out of hand it will be even more unpleasant".

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard. Photo / File
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard. Photo / File

He said the situation was "kind of surreal but it's not unexpected".


"I think there's been a bit of underestimation of the likely response, by a lot of us, and this is kind of bringing it home."
When asked if the new measures were achievable in 48 hours, Heard said: "well we've just got to do it".

"We don't have a choice, do we? I totally endorse what the Government is doing, trying to control this thing."

The chamber's immediate priority is "trying to help as many people in our modest way that we possibly can".

"We have a triage system running which is pointing businesses to the appropriate places for the sort of support that they need," Heard said.

The chamber's "much less important" issue was that its own income stream had stopped.

"We've all just got to stay calm and do what we're told and tough it out... Hopefully, in a few weeks, we can look back and say it was worth it."

New Zealand has 14 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total number of cases to 66. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says there are four probable cases.

Lorraine Taylor, principal of Lynmore Primary School, said her sympathies were with families as "it was a difficult time to arrange childcare".

"We're doing everything we can to support our community and be there for people.''

The Prime Minister had "no choice" but to make the call to close schools, Taylor said.


Rawiri Wihapi, president of the Rotorua Principal's Association and principal of Mokoia Intermediate, said it would be a "difficult" time and urged everyone to keep safe.

Rawiri Wihapi, Rotorua Principals Association president and Mokoia Intermediate principal. Photo / File
Rawiri Wihapi, Rotorua Principals Association president and Mokoia Intermediate principal. Photo / File

In a newsletter to parents, he said the school would be open today and tomorrow for children of "essential service workers" who were not able to find urgent childcare assistance.

The school will be officially closed from midnight on Wednesday "until further notice".

MP for Rotorua Todd McClay the announcements yesterday were "inevitable" considering "the direction things have been moving in".

"The most important message I think I can offer them [the public] is to be calm. There is no reason for them to be any panic ... A lot of professionals and emergency services will be working very, very hard, day and night, to make sure the response is adequate."

Rotorua MP Todd McClay. Photo / File
Rotorua MP Todd McClay. Photo / File

Some Rotorua businesses began closing doors before it became compulsory yesterday afternoon.

These included Te Puia (after a visitor in early March later tested positive for Covid-19), Paradise Valley Springs, Tamaki Māori Village, Mitai Maori Village, Kaitiaki Adventures, Rotorua Rafting, Whakarewarewa The Living Māori Village and Rotorua Canopy Tours.

National Party leader Simon Bridges asked all National MPs and candidates to put campaigning on hold, offered the party's resources to assist the Government, and called for the alert level to be moved to level 4.

Video will play in
Play now
Don't auto play

Never auto play
Police Commissioner Mike Bush joins Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking to discuss the Government's operational response to Covid-19. Audio / Newstalk ZB

A message from the Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick

We are being asked to unite against COVID-19 and if we do this right we will save lives.

I'm asking you all to follow the lead of the Government – to follow the directives we have been given and to do the right thing now so we can stamp this out.

We need to stop the spread of the virus and what we do now will make a difference. This is so important.

It's a difficult time for everyone but it is also a time for calm heads, common sense and caring.

Uniting against Covid-19 means just that – we need to work together and play our part in trying to limit the impact on our families, our community and New Zealand.

Council's role during this time is to continue providing essential services and our governance arm is working out decision-making mechanisms to get us through and ensure the organisation is enabled to do that. Staff have been working extremely hard to ensure we are as prepared as possible. These are unprecedented times and we will need to work in different ways across the coming period of time.
Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website
Like health, emergency services, government agency and other frontline staff, council staff are committed to ensuring the continuation of essential services to our community.

I understand that people will be anxious but I urge you all to remain calm and to keep yourselves informed.

Most importantly right now, be kind – to yourselves and to others.

Check on your loved ones, your whanau and friends and your neighbours. Help those who need it if you can, even if that just means staying in regular contact.

Working together – tatau tatau as we always have – we will get through this.