Coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern reveals when Cabinet will decide on whether to extend COVID-19 lockdown

The Prime Minister has revealed that Cabinet will make a decision on extending the COVID-19 lockdown on April 20, just over a week from now. 

Jacinda Ardern acknowledged in a speech on Thursday that the alert level 4 lockdown has come with "heavy restrictions" that has required "difficult decisions" around services and businesses that can and cannot operate.

"We need to give similar, more detailed guidance on what life at level 3 looks like, and we will do that next week. That will give us a window to iron out questions and issues, and make sure we're as prepared as we can be when it comes time to move," she said. 

"It is then my intention that on the 20th of April, two days before the lockdown is due to finish, Cabinet will make a decision on our next steps. That's because we need to use the most up to date data that we have to make that decision."

The Prime Minister said what that means is, if the country is ready to move to alert level 3, the businesses that will be allowed to open will have two days to get organised. 

Ardern's speech came as the Ministry of Health revealed 29 new cases of the coronavirus in New Zealand - the fourth day in a row the number of new cases dropped, bringing the total number of cases to 1239. 

Despite the positive data, Ardern confirmed again that the Government has no plans to bring the country out of lockdown early, because that would risk going "backwards" on the success that has been gained. 

At this halfway point in the lockdown, Ardern asked that business use the rest of the time they have to prepare for what every alert level may mean for them. 

"Ask whether it's possible for your business to have social distancing. Can you build in contact tracing tools or mechanisms to keep track of your supply train and customers? Help us get ready as a nation for the marathon we must all run together," she said. 

"I know we can do this. And I know that, because we are already. So as we head in to Easter I say thank you to you and your bubble. You have stayed calm, you've been strong, you've saved lives, and now we need to keep going."

ACT leader David Seymour criticised Ardern for not giving businesses enough time to prepare.

"Businesses can't prepare if they don't know which businesses are allowed to open, or what the rules are, at each alert level. The Government must give clear guidance now, not with two days' notice."