Jacinda Ardern's tough new border measures for arrivals to New Zealand as COVID-19 lockdown looms

Every arrival to New Zealand will now be screened and could be forced into quarantine, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced, as the country goes into COVID-19 lockdown. 

If an arrival is symptomatic, they will be tested and forced into quarantine. That also goes for arrivals that don't show symptoms but have no plan or ability to self-isolate.

And for those who landed in a city they don't live in and can't get home in isolation, even if they do have a plan, police will check, fine and quarantine anyone breaking the rules.

"Breaking the rules could kill someone close to you," Ardern said. "We must take this period of self-isolation deadly seriously."

The Prime Minister has declared a state of emergency for New Zealand, which will last for seven days, but can be renewed - highly likely given the country is going into COVID-19 alert level 4. 

A state of emergency has only been in place once before, after the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake. It gives the Government, authorities and head of civil defence extraordinary powers.

"It would be great if I didn't have to use any," Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management Sarah Stuart Black said. 

But if it has to - using police and military - the Government can now close roads, stop traffic, enter and vacate premises, ban people from places, and stop people doing things that might contribute to the COVID-19 spread.

"We don't want thousands of people to die. It is that plain and simple," Stuart Black said.

It also gives the Government take-over powers to requisition facilities, assistance, equipment, and materials like fuel and food for rationing.

"These are all necessary," the Prime Minister said. "It is an extraordinary time and we are very mindful of how we exercise [the powers]."

More tough measures are kicking in with the Government taking over some hotels near airports to use to quarantine Kiwis coming home.

"We now have facilities ready to go," Ardern added.

Parliament was recalled for an urgent session on Wednesday to pass a number of Bills giving the Government sweeping powers as the country goes into lockdown at midnight. 

One of the Bills passed allows the Government to access $40 billion in operational cash and $12 billion in capital, if it needs the money while Parliament is shut-down during lockdown. 

As MPs practised physical distancing in the House, they were closer and more united than ever, facing an unprecedented threat to the country. 

"There's no National or Labour, Green or ACT or New Zealand First - just New Zealanders," National Party leader Simon Bridges said.

The Opposition leader was echoed by ACT Party leader David Seymour, who said: "It is critical that we all follow the game-plan."

Green Party co-leader James Shaw joked, "I took great pleasure recently telling my mother she's grounded."

You can read more about the Prime Minister's speech to Parliament here

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