Coronavirus: What New Zealand reaching alert level 4 will mean for you

After escalating New Zealand's coronavirus alert level to 3 on Monday, the Prime Minister warns it will increase again to level 4 within the next 48 hours.

The announcement from Jacinda Ardern comes after the Ministry of Health revealed the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 had shot up to 102 on Monday.

While the increase from alert level 2 to 3 will have a major effect on Kiwis, Ardern acknowledges the subsequent jump to level 4 will bring the most extreme containment measures New Zealanders have ever experienced.

At alert level 4, coronavirus is deemed to have sustained, intensive transmission and widespread outbreaks that require the 'eliminate' response.

"Moving to level 3, then 4, will place the most significant restrictions on our people in modern history, but they are a necessary sacrifice to save lives," she said at her post-Cabinet press conference on Monday.

"New Zealand is fighting an unprecedented global pandemic and it will take a collective effort of every single New Zealander doing the right thing to give us our best shot at curtailing community outbreak."

Coronavirus: What New Zealand reaching alert level 4 will mean for you

Here's what the Prime Minister has warned us to expect when the alert lifts to level 4.

Mandatory self-isolation

"We are all now preparing as a nation to go into self-isolation, as we have seen other countries do," Ardern told the nation on Monday afternoon.

"Staying at home is essential. It's a simple but highly effective way to contain the virus… and will help give our health system a fighting chance.

"You can leave your home for fresh air, a walk, for exercise, to take your children outside, but please remember this simple principle: it must be solitary.

"We are asking you only spend time with those you're in self-isolation with, and if you are outside keep your distance from others - two metres at all times."

Mass closures for business

"Over the next 48 hours, every workplace must implement alternative ways of working. People must work from home so that interactions with others are limited.

"Essential services will need to put in place alternative ways of working, that ensure physical distancing of staff of two metres, and utilise appropriate personal protective equipment.

"To be absolutely clear, we are now asking all New Zealanders who are outside essential services to stay at home and to stop all interaction with others outside of your household.

All schools to close

"Schools will close entirely from midnight Wednesday.

"The school term break will be brought forward. For the remainder of this week and through the term break, schools will establish ways to deliver teaching online and remotely as quickly as they can."

Air travel, public transport to become essential only

"In the next 48 hours people will need to go home, be it locally or throughout the country. We have asked all air transport providers to ensure social distancing for that period.

"After 48 hours we'll be moving to air travel only applying to the transport of people undertaking essential services and the transport of freight.

"Public transport will only be available to those working in essential services, for medical reasons and to move essential goods - including ferry services between the North and South Island."

Testing, contract tracing to continue 'at pace'

"We will continue to vigorously contract trace every single case.

"Testing will continue at pace to help us understand the current number of cases in New Zealand, and where they are based.

NZ to be at level 4 for four weeks - at least

"To flush out the cases we already have and see transmission slow, we will potentially be able to move areas out of level 4 over time. But for the next little while, things will look worse before they look better.

"In the short-term, the number of cases will likely rise, because the virus is already in the community. But these new measures can slow the virus down, and prevent our health system from being overwhelmed and ultimately save lives.

"To be successful though, to stop community transmission, which does have a lag-time, these measures will need to be in place for four weeks. You will be able to make regular visits to essential services in that time.

"If we, after those four weeks, have been successful, then we will be able to ease these restrictions. If we haven't, we'll find ourselves living with them for longer.

'Sticking to the rules matters'

"If we don't [stick to the rules] - if you hang out with your friend at a park, or see a friend for lunch - you risk spreading COVID-19 and extending the nation's time in level 4.

"That is why sticking to the rules matters.

"Our low number of cases compared to the rest of the world gives us a chance many others do not have, but it does not mean we have escaped."

New Zealanders face 'huge and daunting' task

"I do not underestimate what we are asking New Zealanders to do - it is huge, and I know it will feel daunting. But I wanted to share with you this dark choice that we have faced as Government.

"Medical modelling considered by Cabinet today suggests that without the measures I have just announced, up to tens of thousands of New Zealanders could die from COVID-19. All of the things you give up for the next few weeks - all of the lost contact with others, all of the isolation and difficult time entertaining children - it will literally save lives, thousands of lives.

"The worst-case scenario is simply intolerable. It would represent the greatest loss of New Zealanders' lives in our history, and I will not take that chance.

"I would rather make this decision now and save those lives, and be in lockdown for a shorter period than delay, than see New Zealanders lose loved ones and their contact with each other for an ever-longer period.

"Together we do have an opportunity to contain the spread and to prevent the worst."

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