Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says supermarkets will be closed as usual on Good Friday but will be open on Easter Sunday.

Ardern made the announcement during her daily update on the coronavirus pandemic and New Zealand's lockdown.

The Covid-19 committee's decision on Easter trading was based on the need for staff to rest and for supermarkets to restock, but also that people needed access to essential food. They also wanted to ensure people didn't panic buy.

Any employee who objected to working on Easter Sunday would not have to work.


Ardern urged everyone to be kind to supermarket workers.

Ardern said she understood there were already some halal products available at supermarkets and that sometimes the issue was the supermarket itself.

Asked whether a curfew could be necessary in New Zealand, Ardern said the current lockdown conditions were "stringent" enough.

Covid-19 test criteria widened

More than 21,000 tests have been conducted and New Zealand has the capacity to test about 3500 people a day.

Ardern admitted authorities weren't testing widely enough to tell where the community outbreaks were so the case definition has been expanded.

Travel history and connection with a case was now not essential to being tested.

"I want more tests. We've built the capacity for more tests."

She said clinicians were deciding when it was appropriate to extend test criteria, not politicians.


Asked whether it was acceptable that testing criteria was only being expanded a week after the WHO urged: "Test, test, test", she said New Zealand's testing numbers were really high and believed that message wasn't aimed at this country.

Ardern hoped that by expanding the case definition, it would be clearer for GPs about when to test.

She thanked the more than 1000 pharmacies across New Zealand for their work and support.

Asked whether it was time to get tougher on Kiwis coming back into NZ, Ardern said checks had shown "by and large" there was compliance.

Asked whether there was a level of trust involved, she said those who were found not to be complying with self-isolation would be fined or quarantined.

She said the concern was where infection could not be traced, it was not necessarily about clusters.

Focus: An urgent testing station has been setup in Matamata as cases spike in the small town. Video / Alan Gibson

Community newspapers to still be published

Ardern said Kiwis needed to have ongoing access to different media voices so the Government has reversed the decision that community and non-daily newspapers are non-essential during the lockdown.

However, delivery would have to be through already existing channels.

Ardern said the Government would continue to work with media companies to "cushion the blow" of the impacts of Covid-19.

Ardern said they recognised the essential role media played during the lockdown and urged media companies to access the wage subsidy.

Ardern said they hadn't made any decisions about expanding the wage subsidy beyond 12 weeks.

Kiwis in Australia

Speaking about Kiwis in Australia now being able to access welfare, she said she was pleased they were being acknowledged for their contribution to the economy across the Tasman.


Ardern spoke with Australian PM Scott Morrison yesterday morning.

Ideally, she would like to see access to welfare continue beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ardern said she would "always be consistent" with her requests to Morrison for Kiwis to access welfare in Australia but for now wanted to acknowledge what it meant for some being able to access the JobSeeker allowance.

In regards to other countries wanting to repatriate tourists back from New Zealand, Ardern said they were taking a couple of days to work through the logistics of moving people from around New Zealand.

It was important the people involved were not put at risk, she said.

Covid 19 coronavirus: Lockdown 'not enough', top professor tells Govt video conference
Coronavirus Covid 19: 58 new cases today - total in NZ now 647
Covid 19 coronavirus: Pak'n Save worker spat on by customer disputing rules
Covid 19 coronavirus: Infected backpackers drive up cases


Earlier this afternoon, it was announced there are 48 new confirmed and 10 probable Covid-19 coronavirus cases in New Zealand, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says.

This brings the total number of cases to 647 since the start of the pandemic.

Mike Hosking talks to Finance Minister Grant Robertson about 'shovel-ready' projects and economic recovery after COVID-19 - 31st March.

Bloomfield said while there had been a drop in the number, he didn't think that it reflected a drop in the number of cases. The expectation was still that the number of cases would continue to rise.

Seventy-four people with coronavirus have since recovered, he said.

Fourteen people are in hospital and two people are in a stable condition in intensive care units.

Bloomfield said there was still a strong link to overseas travel and contact with already confirmed cases. Clusters would be investigated and contact-traced, he said.