Coronavirus: Things you can do tonight that you can't do tomorrow

Harsh new restrictions on businesses and social life come into effect on Wednesday in a desperate battle to control the COVID-19 coronavirus before it runs rampant throughout New Zealand.

From 11:59pm, New Zealand will be in lockdown for at least four weeks in an attempt to minimise the spread of the virus, which has infected more than 200 people locally.

The lockdown means people must remain indoors, non-essential businesses will close, schools are shut, and travel is severely limited.

What can you do tonight that you can't do tomorrow

Use public transport

From Thursday, public transport will be restricted to those working in essential services, for medical reasons, and to move essential goods.

This also applies to ferry services between the North and South Island.

Meet with friends

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has told all New Zealanders outside essential services to stay at home and stop interactions with people outside of the household.

"I understand that self-isolation is a daunting prospect. So we are being practical," she said.

"You can leave your home for fresh air, a walk, exercise. To take your children outside. But remember the simple principle. It must be solitary.

"We are asking that you only spend time with those you are in self-isolation with. And if you are outside, keep your distance from others. That means two metres at all times. This is the single most important thing we can do right now to stop further community transmission."

Drive to the beach

On Wednesday, police commissioner Mike Bush was asked if people will be allowed to drive to their local beach.

"There's a short answer to that - no they're not," replied Bush to Newstalk ZB host Chris Lynch.

"You only go out in your vehicle if you need to go and get essential food supplies, essential medical supplies or medical treatment. Otherwise, please stay at home."

Go to the playground

Ardern has emphasised the importance of not using public spaces which could be contaminated with the coronavirus.

"Any surface their child touches at a playground presents risk. No playgrounds," she told media on Wednesday.

"Avoid any spaces where people are having contact with those surfaces."

Go shopping

Most major retailers will be shut from Thursday as they don't provide non-essential services.

All Mitre 10, Mitre 10 MEGA and Hammer Hardware stores will be closed to the public by the end of the day on Wednesday. So too will Kmart and The Warehouse stores.  

All essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open.