Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that all of New Zealand must go into self isolation. We have moved to alert level three, and then in 48 hours we will move to level four.
"Our plan is simple, we can stop this spread by staying home and reducing contact. Now is the time to act. Effectively immediately, we will move to level three, nation-wide" she said.
"After 48 hours, the time required to ensure essential services are in place, we will move to level four."
The move is being made to prevent tens of thousands of New Zealanders from dying, Ardern said.
"The worst case scenario is simply intolerable. I will not take that chance," she said. "I would rather make this decision now and save lives... than see New Zealanders lose loved ones. I hope you are all together with me on this decision."
All schools will be closed from tomorrow. All New Zealanders must begin working from home, except those in essential services.
Supermarkets and health services will remain open.
Do not panic buy - essential products and services will remain available, Ardern said.
Ardern said today:
"We are fortunate to still be some way behind the majority of overseas countries in terms of cases but the trajectory is very clear. Act now or risk the virus taking hold as it has elsewhere.
"We currently have 102 cases. But so did Italy once. Now the virus has overrun their health system, and hundreds of people are dying every day.
The situation here is moving at pace and so must we. We have always said we would act early, decisively and go hard and we will.
"Today 36 new cases were announced. While the majority of these cases continue to be linked to overseas travel in some way I can also confirm as did the director general of health, that we have two cases where public health officials have been unable to find how they came in contact with Covid-19.
"On that basis we now consider there is transmission within our community.
"As community transmission takes of fin NZ the number of cases will double every five days. If that happens unchecked our health system will be inundated and tens of thousands of NZers will die.
"There is no easy way to say that but it is the reality of what we've seen overseas and the possibility that we must face here.
"Together we must stop that from happening and we can. Right now we have a window of opportunity to break the chain of community transmission.
"To contain the virus.
"To stop it multiplying and to protect New Zealanders from the worst.
"Our plan is simple. We can stop its spread by staying at home and reducing contact. Now is the time to act.
"That's why cabinet met today and agreed that effective immediately we will move to alert level three nation wide.
"After 48 hours the time required to ensure essential services are in place we will move to level four.
"These decisions will place the most significant restrictions on New Zealanders' movements in modern history.
"This is not a decision lightly. It is our best chance to slow the virus and to save lives."
Below, the four-level alert system is explained by Jacinda Ardern - story continues below:
Supermarkets, doctors, pharmacies, service stations and access to essential banking services will remain available in New Zealand at every alert level.
If you do not have immediate needs do not go to your supermarket. Give supermarkets time to restock their shevles. There will be enough stock for everyone if we shop normally. We will not run out of food.
Maintain social distance at all time if visiting essential services.
Non-essential businesses must now close. This includes bars, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries, playgrounds.
Over the next 48 hours takeaway services must close too.
All indoor and outdoor events cannot proceed.
Over the next 48 hours every workplace must implement alternative ways of working. People must work from home if they can. Essential services must employ alternative ways of working that ensure physical distancing of staff of two metres or utilise appropriate protective equipment.
Schools will be closed from tomorrow except to the children of essential workers such as doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and police. There will also be others on that list. It will be temporary to give them time to plan. Schools will close entirely from midnight, Wednesday.
The school term break will be brought forward. For the remainder of the term schools will establish ways to teach students online and remotely.
All New Zealanders who are outside essential services must stay home and stop all interaction with others outside of those in your household.
You can leave your home for a walk or fresh air. It must be solitary. You must only spend time with people you are in self isolation with.
Travel around New Zealand: Over the next 48 hours people need to go home, be it locally or throughout the country. All transport providers have been asked to ensure social distancing for this period. After 48 hours air transport will only be allowed for those transporting freight.
Public transport will also transition over the next 48 hours to only be available to those working in essential services, for medical reasons and to move essential goods.
Further details will be made on the covid19.govt.nz website.
While we're in level four Jacinda Ardern has promised that every single confirmed case will continue to be contact traced, testing will continue at pace.
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