New Zealand on March 22 decided that it will move to its highest alert level imposing self-isolation, with all non-essential services, schools, and offices to be shut over the next 48 hours as the number of coronavirus cases rises more than double. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said these decisions will place the most significant restriction on New Zealanders’ movements in modern history, but it was needed to save lives and slow the virus.
Arden while addressing the nation in a press conference said that the entire nation is preparing to go into self-isolation. The number of coronavirus cases in New Zealand shot up to 102, more than double since March 20, as the country reported 36 new infections. New Zealand has had no deaths. Further, she said that if the community transmission takes off in New Zealand, the number of cases will double every five days. Moreover, if that happens unchecked, the health system of the country will be inundated, and thousands of people will die.
Arden explained that a nationwide lockdown was important and is also a simple way to constrain the virus that gives it no place to go and will give our healthcare system a fighting chance. She said that the cabinet agreed that effective immediately, the country of 5 million people would move into alert level 3 nationwide, and after 48 hours it will be at the highest level 4. New Zealand has already closed its borders to foreigners.
Ardern said all bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries, playgrounds and any other place where the public congregate must close their face-to-face function. She said supermarkets, doctors, pharmacies, service stations, access to essential banking services will all be available throughout New Zealand at every alert level.
Australia, which has thousands of COVID-19 cases, started lockdown measures on March 22 but has stopped short of self-isolation. New Zealand’s bourse reacted immediately to the announcement plunging 10 percent to the biggest intraday percentage drop ever. Finance Minister Grant Robertson said all rents will be frozen and the government will announce further support for the economy in the coming days.
Schools will be closed from Tuesday, except for children of essential workers such as our doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, and police. Schools will close entirely from midnight on Wednesday. All indoor and outdoor events will be canceled. All workplaces were asked to implement alternative ways of working.