New Zealand will enter an almost full lockdown by Wednesday with draconian measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
All non-essential businesses and services will be shut for at least four weeks and anyone not working in them told to stay home other than solitary exercise.
Schools will shut except for parents working in essential services, along with public transport across the country – and the military used to enforced the rules.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that New Zealand would enter ‘level 4’ restrictions within 48 hours, with level 3 enacted immediately.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced New Zealand would enter ‘level 4’ restrictions – a near-total lockdown – within 48 hours
Everyday Australians on social media urged Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to show ‘real leadership’ and follow Ms Ardern’s lead.
‘Why can’t we get clear messaging like this in Australia,’ wrote marketing expert Paula Rodgers alongside a clear graph of the four alert levels in New Zealand.
‘Arden announced a wage guarantee a full week before a shut down. That’s responsible and smart. Australia is making it up as we go along,’ added journalist Osman Faruqi.
‘Props to Jacinda Ardern for making the tough decisions early. New Zealand will escape this pandemic in much better shape than Australia… This is what real leadership looks like,’ tweeted another.
However, Mr Morrison has resisted such calls in an attempt to minimise the impact a lockdown would have on the economy.
New Zealand confirmed 36 new cases overnight, bringing its total to 102 with two of them considered community transmissions.
New Zealand has four coronavirus alert levels. It has just moved in to level 3 and will be at the highest level by Wednesday
The alert level gives Ms Ardern’s government sweeping powers to restrict movement, lock people at home, and requisition resources to fight the deadly virus.
The military will even be used to enforce the measures along with police, but armed soldiers would not be patrolling the streets.
Supermarkets and pharmacies will stay open but supplies rationed, and private facilities pressed into public service.
A ‘major reprioritisation of healthcare services’ would also be involved to combat coronavirus as the biggest public health threat.
Going for a walk or run outside would be permitted, but people had to stay 2m from anyone who they didn’t live with.
‘I have a very keen sense of the magnitude of this moment in New Zealand’s history and we did not take this decision lightly,’ Ms Ardern said.
‘But we all absolutely believe, this is the right thing to do. We will save lives by taking these measures now.’
Level 3 was immediately put in place, which restricts travel in badly-affected areas and bans all mass gatherings of any kind.
Public venues like libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, amusement parks are closed along with some businesses.
Empty kayaks sit on the banks of the Avon River in central Christchurch, New Zealand, with everything shut down amid the pandemic
Face-to-face health consultations, like GP visits, are banned and all elective surgeries postponed.
Ms Ardern said the lockdown would be phased in through level 3 so people had two days to ‘get their things in order’.
Mr Morrison shut down many businesses including gyms, pubs, cafes and restaurants across the country from 12pm on Monday.
He had on Sunday morning insisted such measures were not yet necessary as he tried to prevent, or at least delay, massive economic damage.
He was forced to change his tune and impose a national ban after the two states and Canberra broke ranks just an hour after he finished speaking.
New Zealand COVID-19 alert levels
Level 1: Prepare
Border entry measures to minimise risk of importing COVID-19 cases applied
Stringent self-isolation and quarantine
Intensive testing for COVID-19
Physical distancing encouraged
Mass gatherings over 500 cancelled
Stay home if you’re sick, report flu-like symptoms
Wash and dry hands, cough into elbow, don’t touch your face
Level 3: Restrict
Travel in areas with clusters or community transmission limited
Affected educational facilities closed
Mass gatherings cancelled
Public venues closed (e.g. libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, amusement parks)
Alternative ways of working required and some non-essential businesses should close
Non face-to-face primary care consultations
Non acute (elective) services and procedures in hospitals deferred and healthcare staff reprioritised
Level 2: Reduce
Entry border measures maximised
Further restrictions on mass gatherings
Physical distancing on public transport Limit non-essential travel around New Zealand
Employers start alternative ways of working if possible
Business continuity plans activated
High-risk people advised to remain at home (e.g. those over 70 or those with other existing medical conditions)
Level 4: Eliminate
People instructed to stay at home
Educational facilities closed
Businesses closed except for essential services (e.g. supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics) and lifeline utilities
Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities
Travel severely limited
Major reprioritisation of healthcare services