From a private plane to Rotorua to shutting NZ's borders: Jacinda Ardern's whirlwind day responding to COVID-19

"You can trust us".

That was the Prime Minister's message to New Zealand, warning against the growing COVID-19 misinformation campaigns causing anxiety and panic, as she met businesses in Rotorua, also worried about the fall-out of fake news.

Hours later, the Prime Minister announced that New Zealand's borders would close to all non-New Zealand citizens and residents, to try and keep the coronavirus out, as the country's confirmed cases grew to 28.

Jacinda Ardern touched down in Rotorua on an Air Force Beechcraft King Air on Thursday morning, justifying the form of transportation because "regional New Zealand timetabling doesn't always suit scheduling".

Except, the timetabling meant the Prime Minister's plane landed at almost the same time as the Air New Zealand flight she was originally booked on.

But social distancing is the new normal in New Zealand.

"My message to every New Zealander is if you can't be apart when you're together, reconsider," the Prime Minister said, as she and Finance Minister Grant Robertson met with around 30 Rotorua business representatives.

"I find it very awkward... it's not our way at all," she could be heard telling a member of the gathering, as handshakes were ruled out - replaced by elbow bumps.

The Prime Minister was huddled into a crowded group.

When asked if she should be leading by example and keeping social distance, Ardern said: "You'll see that I was trying to fan my arms out at the beginning of the meeting."

The Prime Minister wanted to personally show how social distancing is done and personally scuttle all COVID-19 scuttlebutt circulating online.

"I am present on social media - I see it myself. I cannot go around and dismiss individually every single rumour I see on social media as tempted as I might be," she said.

Instead, she's pleading with New Zealanders to rely on information from her, ministers, the Ministry of Health, and the COVID-19 Government website

"Dismiss everything else. We will continue to be your single source of truth."

It follows a viral fake text which originated in Malaysia and has done the rounds in Australia, on social media and now in New Zealand.

It says, "Got this from an insider - from a cabinet briefing today" and that a "country lockdown has been announced" effective March 20.

"That's the kind of thing adds to anxiety that people feel," Ardern said. "The last thing we want is for that anxiety to be based on misinformation."

And misinformed national anxiety has flow-on effects.

Rotorua's tourism is mostly domestic, and with foreign tourists basically out, the industry can't afford for Kiwis to panic.

Bruce Thomasen, co-founder of Redwoods Treewalk in Rotorua, is urging Kiwis to "keep calm, get the facts", practice social distancing and "get out into nature".

For tourism operators, dealing with the prospect of COVID-19 cut-backs has been hard enough.

"I personally felt like vomiting for three days straight," said Melissa Craig, who manages Zorb, a tourist attraction that a United States high school has been in touch with.

"They wrote a letter saying, 'Hey, how quickly can you guys mass-produce zorb balls so we can all live in our own bubble and go to the prom together'," Craig told Newshub.

There was no zorb for the Prime Minister as she departed Rotorua - just a heavily disinfected van and a private plane.

The Prime Minister made haste to an urgent Cabinet meeting in Wellington to discuss the clampdown on New Zealand's borders that she would announce just hours later.

The border crackdown was another major moment in the fight against COVID-19. A near-total shut-down of New Zealand's borders to all non-residents and all non-citizens, including people in the Pacific.

The self-isolation protocol for all arrivals announced last week were lauded by the Government at the time as some of the toughest travel restrictions in the world - but clearly not enough. 

The Government has argued throughout that those restrictions were tantamount to an all-out ban because foreign visitors numbers plummeted to a trickle, but we know foreigners arriving here have been flouting the self-isolation protocols. 

So, this is the next level: New Zealand closing its borders. This is unprecedented. 

New Zealand is an isolated nation at the bottom of the world, and now we're not only isolated - we're cutting ourselves off.