New Zealand goes on lockdown for 'fighting chance' against virus

Cheryl Sanders
March 23, 2020

Ardern said these moves would save the lives of tens of thousands of New Zealanders.

Officials in New Zealand are hopeful these stringent measures will only have to be in place for four weeks, although they will likely be extended indefinitely in the event the virus jumps containment lines in the community.

There are 36 new coronavirus cases in New Zealand, bringing the total confirmed count to 102 on Monday. "It would represent the greatest loss of New Zealand lives in our history and I will not take that chance".

His comments come as New Zealand's Covid-19 alert level was raised to 3 today, with it moving to the highest level, level 4, in 48 hours time.

Ardern said all bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries, playgrounds and any other place where the public congregate must close their face-to-face function.

Speaking to media at her post-Cabinet press conference, Ardern said the Government had concluded there was a need to lift the country's alert level.

"If you do not have immediate needs, do not go to the supermarket".

Marlborough harvested 76.6 per cent of New Zealand's grape harvest in 2019.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said all rents will be freezed and the government will announce further support for the economy in the coming days.

'If we have a situation where this virus fundamentally gets away from us, we will have thousands of people who will only survive if they can breathe with the assistance of a machine - and we will not have enough machines, nurses and doctors to provide that care.

Victoria's schools will shut down from Tuesday as Premier Daniel Andrews shuts down all non-essential activity in the state.

Pubs, clubs, Crown Casino and schools will all close for at least three weeks in the state-wide shutdown until April 13.

All indoor and outdoor events must also be cancelled, with the entire country going into self-isolation.

When practicing social distancing, you should avoid public transport, limit non-essential travel, work from home and skip large gatherings.

Ms Ardern said fresh advice and modelling in the case of widespread transmission made the lockdown essential.

Earlier, New Zealand's opposition National Party said it had put on hold its campaign for a general election on Sept 19.

Despite the relatively low numbers of cases - particularly in comparison to Australia - Ardern today moved to implement tough and concisely defined measures in a bid to curtail the spread.

However, there were two cases where there was no certainty of the source of infection - one in the Wairarapa, and the other in Auckland - which were being treated as instances of community transmission.

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