Right now, there's a flurry of information - some true and some false. If you're getting a bit fatigued and just want the key, verified facts, check in here for rolling live updates.
1.30pm Sunday, March 22nd
The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 has increased by 14. The total is now 66.
*An earlier statement giving the number of cases as 67 has since been corrected by the Ministry of Health.
Cases are spread throughout the country:
- Auckland, 5
- Northland, 1
- Canterbury, 1
- New Plymouth, 2
- Waikato, 3
- Tauranga, 1
- Dunedin, 1
11am Sunday March 22nd
New Zealand at Level 2 Alert for Covid-19
New Zealanders are now living by a new alert system designed to control the spread of Covid-19. We are now at Level 2. This means:
- Our borders are closed to almost all travellers
- No gatherings of 100 people or more.
- Limit non-essential travel around New Zealand
- Work from home if possible
- People over 70 years of age and people with compromised immunity are to stay home
- Schools will be closed if there is a case that affects a school
Auckland Airport restricts access
Only travellers with valid passports will be allowed into Auckland Airport from today. Passengers can be met and farewelled outside the terminal.
Free study offer at Victoria University of Wellington
As many students are packing up and heading home, Victoria University of Wellington has announced an offer to study for free - in Trimester 2 (starting July 6).
The offer is “to people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic”. It does not apply to current students. Register interest here.
$56 million to support Maori communities and businesses
Associate Health and Whanau Ora Minister Peeni Henare announced a $56-million plan to help support Maori businesses and communities through Covid-19.
“We know there are specific challenges for Māori that require a specific response,” said Minister Henare.
The plan includes funding for community outreach and health services as well as support for business management and 2000 workers from He Poutama Rangatahi to help deliver the services.
Minister Henare said the moves would “help our most vulnerable whānau”. Some of the specific steps being taken include developing guidelines to help Māori prepare for self-isolation, particularly when self-isolating as part of a large family group; in-home care such as food parcels and medications to keep kaumatua healthy and a Māori-specific vaccination programme.
4pm Saturday 21 March
The government has announced new guidelines for bars, restaurants, cafes and casinos.
Hospitality venues will need to keep a register of all visitors, do head counts to ensure no more than 100 people are in the venue and ensure people stay at 1m distance from each other.
Source: David Clark, Health Minister
Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin councils are closing pools, libraries and other facilities.
12:00pm Saturday 21 March
The Prime Minister has announced an alert system for Covid-19. We are currently at Alert Level 2.
“Over the past few weeks the world has changed and it’s changed very quickly” - Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister.
Alert Level 1: Covid-19 is here but contained.
Alert Level 2: Disease is contained but risks are growing because we have more cases.
- Reduce contact
- Create border measures
- Cancel events
- Ask people to work differently and cancel non-essential travel.
Alert Level 3: Disease is difficult to contain.
- Close public venues
- Ask non-essential business to close
Alert Level 4: Sustained transmission.
- No contact, ask everyone to stay at home until Covid-19 is in under control
At every level supermarket and essential services will continue.
“Shop normally, if we do that supermarkets have the ability to update shelves.” - Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister.
We are currently at Alert Level 2. We already have many of the measures for Alert Level 2 in place, and new measures have been announced:
- Asking people over 70 years of age or with compromised immunity or underlying respiratory conditions to stay at home as much as they can
- “Friends, family and neighbours need to support this group” - Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister
- Asking people to work from home where possible
- Asking people to limit cut non-essential domestic travel - “Every movement means giving a chance for Covid-19 to spread” - Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister
At Alert Level 2 , schools will be closed if there is a case that affects the school.
“Sending children home at this stage doesn't necessarily reduce transmission in the community” - Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister. “As a mum, I can assure you this is my key consideration.”
The government has set up a website, www.covid19.govt.nz for all information relating to Covid-19.
11:00am, Saturday 21 March
There are 13 new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand. The total number of cases now = 52 confirmed, 4 probable.
- In two of these cases there is no clear link to overseas travel, so it’s possible they could be New Zealand’s first cases of community transmission.
- 1500 tests were processed yesterday and overnight.
- An Australian cruise ship that was in New Zealand five days ago has had three passengers and one crew member test positive for Covid-19.
- 56 New Zealanders were on board that ship - all are now considered “close contacts” and will be required to self-isolate and be monitored daily by health officials.
Source: Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Ministry of Health Director-General
2:30pm, Friday 20th March
Countdown is stopping customers from buying more than 2 of the same item at the same time.
- So people will only be able to buy two packs of toilet paper, two tins of beans, two trays of mince at the same time.
- Produce and deli items are not included, and baby items will have a limit of 6.
- Countdown is also reducing opening hours, and will only open from 9am - 8pm daily.
- “We have plenty of food in our supply chain, however we simply cannot get it through the network fast enough if Kiwis don’t slow down their shopping.” Natalie Davis, Countdown Managing Director
- “Every truck that has to go out full of toilet paper means that regular supermarket supplies can’t get through.”
1:00pm, Friday 20th March
There are 11 new cases of Covid-19 in NZ. The total number of cases now = 39
- Some of the new cases have a clear link to overseas travel, for others the test results are still being analysed. It’s not clear whether there is any community transmission yet.
- None of the 11 new cases are in hospital, all are home and self-isolating.
- All 150 tests of students from Logan Park High School in Dunedin are negative.
- The Director General of Health says he is no longer using the term “social distancing” and instead using “physical distancing”.
- “Talking to people and checking in on others not only helps us stay connected but it’s good for our mental wellbeing.” - Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Ministry of Health Director-General
Source: Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Ministry of Health Director-General
Supermarkets are calling for everyone to “shop normally so we can collectively continue to feed NZ.”
- “We don’t have a supply issue, we have a demand issue.”
Source: Foodstuffs South Island Ltd CEO Steve Anderson
12:45pm, Friday 20th March
Auckland University will cancel all classes next week to allow staff to prepare for a potential campus closure. Source: Auckland University press release
12:30pm, Friday 20th March
- Auckland libraries, recreation centres and pools will be closed for two weeks.
- Public transport will continue There will be no fines for returning your books late to the library.
- Jobs at Auckland Council will not be lost due to the closures - staff may be redeployed into other council roles, or to District Health Boards.
Source: PHIL GOFF, AUCKLAND MAYOR