Coronavirus: Financially struggling families desperate for shift to level 3

Families worst hit by the financial shock of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown are eagerly anticipating the country's next move. 

The Government is set to make a decision on Monday over whether or not the country will move out of level four 4 this week, after almost a month of lockdown.

Mangere Budgeting Services chief executive Darryl Evans says household decision-making has been hard for those struggling to make ends meet during the crisis.

"We're now seeing so many families that were working a month ago, and they've either had hours reduced dramatically or they're lost their jobs or they're in limbo, they don't know whether they're going back to work," Evans told Newshub.

"That's incredibly difficult and it's an extremely stressful time for the entire family but of course it's always stressful for mum and dad worrying about 'how do we feed the kids?'"

Although for many people who can work from home or have enough savings to get through, the lockdown has given them the chance to spend more time with their families, for those living week-to-week or day-to-day the stress caused by being unable to work has been massive, says Evans.

"Overwhelmingly people are looking forward to being able to go back to work and to being able to provide for their families where they can," he says.

"If you are struggling financially, as much as it's nice to go for a walk and it's nice to play with kids in the garden or even in the local park, if you do not know where your income is coming from and you have very, very little left over after paying the rent - which of course the vast majority of people paying private rents are in that situation - worrying about where the next meal is coming from is extremely stressful."

The nationwide lockdown began in late March in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19. Although it seems to be working, with cases in general on a downward curve, there has been much controversy over whether the strict lockdown is worth it due to the devastating economic impact it is having. 

According to figures from Treasury, unemployment could reach up to 26 percent if the lockdown is extended for more than the initially planned four weeks. However, that number could be kept to below 10 percent if the Government is willing to provide additional financial support and the lockdown does not go on for a prolonged period, the figures showed.

Under alert level 4, all non-essential businesses must close and New Zealanders are only allowed to leave their houses for necessary tasks such as exercises or trips to the supermarket or doctor.

A shift to alert level 3 would still mean the country has to implement strict social distancing measures, but businesses that are considered "safe" would also be allowed to open.