As it happened: New Zealand to go into COVID-19 lockdown in 48 hours

There are currently 102 COVID-19 cases in New Zealand, and the Ministry of Health warns community transmission is likely for two of them.

As a result, the COVID-19 alert level has been raised to level 3 and will rise to level 4 in 48 hours.

What you need to know

  • 36 new cases were announced on Monday, bringing the country's total to 102
  • The COVID-19 alert level will rise from level 3 to level 4 in 48 hours
  • All schools and non-essential services will be closed from Tuesday
As it happened: New Zealand to go into COVID-19 lockdown in 48 hours
Photo credit: Newshub

These live updates have now finished.

6:42pm - Countdown has reassured its customers it will remain opening during these "challenging times".

Managing director Natalie Davis said in a statement there is no risk to food supply and they are staying in close contact with their suppliers to ensure the needs of customers are met.

"We repeat our earlier calls to please not panic, and to shop normally.

"When customers stockpile and buy more than they need, it creates a bottleneck in the supply chain that takes time to work through and leaves gaps on the shelves."

She said there will be floor markings at checkouts from midday tomorrow which will help customers maintain a safe distance.

6:12pm - Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick, who is currently in self-isolation, has put together some tips to help people get through the lockdown period.

They include learning new recipes, calling friends and family, opening a window to get some fresh air and organising your day.

5:56pm - Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles believes raising the alert level is "absolutely the right thing to do".

"What I'm really pleased about is that the Government did this at the right time. So they waited until they had the things in place to make sure that families are supported and able to do this," she told Newshub.

She says the four-week lockdown period is so there's enough time for the virus to pass through people and finish its infection.

5:52pm - Chief executive of Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Business Central John Milford supports the Government's decision to increase the COVID-19 alert level.

"We all need to do what we can to slow the spread of COVID-19, and protect New Zealand. This gives us the best chance of keeping people alive and getting back to normal as soon as possible," he said in a statement.

"Moving to level 4 in 48 hours means non-essential businesses will be required to close. This will have a significant impact. However, it is reassuring that wage subsidies have been extended to cover all businesses and that work is underway on further employee and business support."

5:44pm - School Principals' Federation executive Perry Rush believes it is "appropriate" schools will be closed from Tuesday.

"Our view all along has been to work with the official advice that we've been getting from government," he told Newshub.

"I think in this instance - clearly the experts have assessed the risk, they've made a call, we're right in behind that call."

5:37pm - Here's a selection of the latest COVID-19 coverage from Newshub.

5:31pm - The owner of Auckland restaurants The Grove and Baduzzi, Michael Dearth, says he is relieved restaurants will be forced to close.

"To be honest, it was relief. This has been such a long journey for so many people, and I have been expecting it, but just to finally hear it now was actually a relief," he told Newshub.

He says there was some fear, anxiety and worry among his 70 staff.

5:14pm - Tourism Industry Association chief executive Chris Roberts told Newshub there will many tourists who will be stuck in New Zealand due to increasing global travel restrictions.

"The international flights are drying up very quickly. From midnight tonight, Singapore is not allowing transit visitors through Changi Airport - that cuts off one of the main routes back to Europe.

"We increasingly have an issue, especially with European visitors, who have no way to get home. So we will have international visitors stranded in New Zealand."

5:07pm - National Party MP Nick Smith was out delivering groceries to senior citizens in Nelson today. He's also on the lookout for extra volunteers to help.

5:03pm - If you missed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's press conference earlier today where she raised the COVID-19 alert level, you can watch it below.

4:58pm - The Government has released a list of 'essential businesses' who are able to continue operating.

Some of these include health, social services, post and courier services, public safety, and local and national government.

4:55pm - In Australia, both New South Wales and Queensland have recorded a record number of new cases overnight - 136 and 60, respectively.

There are a total of 1642 cases in the country.

4:50pm - Countdown Glenfield in northern Auckland has a queue out the door.

As it happened: New Zealand to go into COVID-19 lockdown in 48 hours
Photo credit: Facebook/Lily Kat via Glenfield Community

4:42pm - A Newshub reporter says it's "total bedlam" in west Auckland. People are queuing down the street to get into supermarkets and liquor stores because they're limiting the number of people in-store at one time.

4:37pm - Westpac has announced it has cut its fixed term housing interest rates to support customers affected by COVID-19.

"We urge people who are concerned about their finances to contact us to discuss their options, which can include mortgage holidays, or temporary interest-only payments on their mortgages," Westpac NZ general manager of consumer banking and wealth Gina Dellabarca says.

"We'll be announcing additional support initiatives in the near future."

4:25pm - Director of Civil Defence Sarah Stuart-Black says they're likely to use their powers under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act, which is a state of national emergency.

Their powers include:

  • the ability to restrict access to roads and public places
  • remove or secure dangerous structures or materials
  • provide rescue, first aid and shelter 
  • regulate traffic
  • conserve essential supplies
  • dispose of fatalities, including people or animals who have died
  • enter or evacuate premises to rescue and save people
  • remove vehicles

She anticipates the powers they will use soon are the ability to conserve fuel and other essential supplies, closing roads and stopping activities.

4:10pm - John Ombler is the controller of the all-of-government response to COVID-19 and he is currently addressing media.

"It is this leadership team here who will manage every aspect of the Government's plan to keep New Zealanders safe and well, and to manage the sustainability of the nation.

"We know this is a difficult time for New Zealanders, and this leadership is a critical part of the Government's plan to support us all."

He says COVID-19 is an issue that goes beyond public health and it has impacts which are wide-ranging.

There are "multiple streams" of work underway in policy, communications and regulatory areas. The public and private sector is also on board with this work.

"It's clear there will be significant disruption to everyone, but we're acutely aware the alternative is far worse," Ombler says.

4pm - Head of Business NZ Kirk Hope told Newshub it will be "challenging" for businesses to go into shutdown mode for the next four weeks.

"But that gives us the best chance to recover not only from a health perspective but economically," he says.

"Whilst it's going to be tough, it's probably the right thing to be doing. And it was useful today that the Government announced the continuation of the wage subsidy package and other measures they're looking at to support business."

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz