Coronavirus: Government extends New Zealand's state of national emergency for fourth time

The Government has extended New Zealand's State of National Emergency for the fourth time, prolonging it for another seven days.

The decision was announced on the Civil Defence National Emergency Management Agency's Twitter on Tuesday.

"The State of National Emergency to support the COVID-19 response will be extended a fourth time, for a further seven days," it tweeted.

"This extension does not change the COVID-19 alert level or affect the decision to move to alert level 3."

First announced on March 25 in response to the coronavirus crisis, the State of National Emergency provides authorities with increased power, to be used "when necessary", in the fight against the virus.

In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare said the State of National Emergency needs to remain to "to support the COVID-19 response".

"As we prepare to move to alert level 3 next Tuesday, it is important that we continue to have the powers activated by the State of National Emergency available to maintain the level of success we have seen to date in making progress towards stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our communities," he wrote.

"The powers activated by the State of National Emergency enable critical work to be carried out during this time including managing roads, traffic and public places; providing first aid, food, shelter and accommodation.

"Use of these powers has included authorising local councils to restrict vehicle access to roads or streets to support social distancing, directing freedom campers to relocate, requisitioning a carpark for COVID-19 testing, stopping people from lighting outdoor fires to reduce the risk of fire-related emergencies, and allowing necessary maintenance to happen at a wastewater treatment plant.

"As we enter the fifth week under a State of National Emergency I would like to acknowledge the extraordinary sacrifices every New Zealander has made to protect our people and our communities. Getting this far has required a collective effort."

State of National Emergency vs COVID-19 alert levels

The COVID-19 alert level system is a separate entity to the declaration or extension of the State of National Emergency.

The alert levels outline the range of measures the Government can take against New Zealand's COVID-19 outbreak.

A State of National Emergency allows the authorities managing the COVID-19 response access to powers they would not normally have. Enforcing or implementing these measures can aid the fight against the virus.

The State of National Emergency can be extended as many times as the Government deems necessary.

When will alert level 4 end?

The coronavirus alert level 4 lockdown will finish at 11:59pm on Monday, April 27, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday, April 20.

New Zealand will then switch to the lighter alert level 3, which will run for two weeks with the goal of moving to alert level 2 after this.

Alert level 3 will allow roughly half a million people to return to work, as long as they can exercise physical distancing and help to reduce COVID-19 from spreading.

Kiwis will also be able to order takeout food online. But you will not be able to go to the gym, get a haircut or go out on your boat.