Coronavirus lockdown: Christchurch bars, restaurants yet to react to COVID-19 alert announcement

Effective immediately, people aren't supposed to be popping into a bar or restaurant for a quiet pint.

It's part of strict new guidelines the Government has issued after the COVID-19 alert level on Monday raised to three.

It means all non-essential businesses - including bars and restaurants - must close their doors.

Speaking from Christchurch's central business district following the alert level raise, Newshub reporter Juliet Speedy says most businesses had yet to react to the announcement.

On Monday afternoon, most bars and restaurants in the central city remained open.

"It feels, really, much like any normal Monday afternoon," Speedy says. "There are still people milling about town."

But the Government has said that will need to stop in 48 hours - when the country goes into total lockdown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters earlier that lives were at stake with another 36 cases of the coronavirus confirmed on Monday - taking the total to 102. Two of those were believed to be from community transmission.

Ardern said the tough new measures were a necessary sacrifice.

"There is no easy way to say that but it is the reality that we have seen overseas."

Meanwhile, retailers are in panic-mode as confusion mounts about what constitutes a non-essential service.

Retail NZ's Greg Harford says the industry is desperate for more clarity. Builders, biosecurity officers, and the media are among the essential services that will continue as the country goes into lockdown, along with the likes of supermarkets and pharmacies.

All schools, meanwhile, will close from Tuesday except children with parents in essential services who will be given until midnight on Wednesday.