Coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern answers New Zealand's questions

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has answered New Zealanders' questions as the country prepares to go into lockdown on Wednesday night.

The four-week lockdown means people must remain indoors except to do the basics, non-essential businesses will close or work from home, schools are shut and travel is severely limited.

Speaking to the nation on Tuesday afternoon, Ardern gave more details - including what will happen to travellers in New Zealand unable to leave.

"I know there continue to be questions and they are understandable," Ardern said.

"Countries are facing them the world over as we move into this never-before-seen status of shutting down normal life.

"But we are making good progress and we do have time to work through some of the questions that remain."

Visa extensions 

Temporary visas have been extended to late September, Ardern said.

Travellers with a temporary (work, student, visitor, interim and limited) visa expiring before April 1 2020 who are unable to leave New Zealand must apply online for a new visa. An interim visa will be issued.

Travellers with a temporary visa due to expire between April 1 and July 9 2020 will have their visas extended to late September.

Confirmation of extensions will be emailed to all visa holders.

Going for walks

Ardern said several people have asked if they can leave their homes to go for walks.

"Yes," the Prime Minister replied.

"But again we ask people to stay two-metres away from anyone you pass. Do not congregate.

"If you live alone, but you have one person you have contact with it needs to be just that. A person you stay faithful to and they stay faithful to you in turn. If you have multiple contacts with others that is where the risk increases."

Going to the supermarket

"You can drive locally to go to your super to get food but again we ask you to maintain your physical distance," she said.

"Other than that we ask people to stay at home."

What are essential services

Ardern acknowledged there have been many questions on what counts as an essential service.

She said if you are not providing a necessity of life you should close.

"The more businesses that stay open the more chances it has to spread," she said.

"If once we've at alert level 4 we discover that there are essential services that have not been made available we will be ready to respond and react to that.

"The COVID committee is working through some of those key questions and there will be further updates on that tomorrow."

The government has provided an updated list of essential services which is available here.