Nation goes into lock down mode at 1159 pm tonight (March 15, 2020)
Auckland, March 25, 2020
Alert 4 means people must stay at home for the next four weeks
State of Emergency declared
Public Health Act and Epidemics Notice in place
Police to patrol streets, guard supermarkets
Parliament adjourned until further notice
But Business Committee chaired by the Leader of the Opposition working
New Zealand borders will be open for returning New Zealanders but all of them will be screened at their port of arrival, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.
“All incoming passengers will be tested and anyone found systematic will be quarantined in a facility. All others will be asked to go into self-isolation. The Police will monitor them and anyone found violating the order will be fined and quarantined,” she said.
Ms Ardern said that there were limitations to confining people to enforced isolation.
In people we trust
We should ask ourselves, if it was the best practice to quarantine every one arriving, she said,
“We trust our people. My advice is to behave as if you have Covid-19, stay at home, break the chain and save lives,” she told a media conference this afternoon.
It is understood that about 10,000 New Zealanders, currently overseas, are expected to return home by the end of the month. Preparations are being made at airports to screen them.
According to one estimate, there are about 80,000 New Zealand citizens or residents in various parts of the work on work or holiday.
Ms Ardern said that there was window of opportunity for them to return earlier.
“With airports including those used as transit points in many parts of the world closed, not all of our people will be able to travel. I would ask them to contact our consulate offices for assistance and updated information,” she said.
Earlier in the day (1221 pm) the government invoked the provisions of the Public Health Act, declared a State of Emergency at 1221 pm and three hours later, the Business Committee of Parliament empowered the government to promulgate the Epidemic Notice.
“The Epidemic Notice provides the government the power to take such measures as necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and protect our people. The Police will work with New Zealand Defence to ensure that essential services are provided without hinderance. The Police will visit supermarkets to ensure that the social distancing is followed. They will have the power to stop people in public places and educate them on the need to observe the need to stay at home. They will also have the power to fine people who violate the rules relating to lockdown,” Ms Ardern said.
New Zealanders should get used to the tough life that the situation demand.s The government has implemented a number of financial packages to help employers to receive a fixed amount as salaries payable to full and part time staff, maintain their cash flow, mortgage holiday for six months, extension of visit visas until the end of September 2020 and other measures.
The Reserve Bank has reduced the Official Cash Rate to 0.25%, relaxed capital requirements of retail banks and purchased government bonds valued at $30 billion to maintain currency flow, while retail banks have also stepped their levels of assistance. Categorised under ‘Essential Services,’ most banks have announced that some of their branches will be open on some days of the week during the lock down period.
Ms Ardern said that the government will review the Essential Services provision should there be a need to do so.
“We will not get everything right, every time. But the objective is very clear: we want to save the lives of New Zealanders and protect them from Covid-19,” she said.