From 11.59pm on Wednesday, New Zealand will go into lockdown. Photo: Charles Anderson

Covid-19: What you need to know today ahead of the Government shutdown

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• Coronavirus alert level moved to 3 – moving to level 4 at 11.59pm on Wednesday

• All non-essential businesses or services – bars, cafes, gyms, cinemas – to close

• NZ will be in coronavirus lockdown for four weeks from 11.59pm Wednesday

• From then, Kiwis should stay at home unless visiting an essential service

• PM says the cost of doing nothing could be tens of thousands of lives

• Govt to borrow tens of billions as it moves to ensure income for all New Zealanders

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese says the Nelson region has been tested before in its response to emergencies and has confidence that we have the systems in place to manage four weeks of lockdown.

Come 11.59pm on Wednesday night, New Zealand will be in alert level 4 to stop the spread of Covid-19.

This means schools and non-essential services across New Zealand will be closed for at least the next four weeks. Below are a list of essential services.

“We have been tested before with emergencies and this is bigger than we have ever faced,” says Rachel. “But I really trust the systems we have in place.”

She says that, behind the scenes, staff across sectors have been working for more than a month in preparation for this new reality.

“It’s a shocking situation if you are not expecting it. But there is a real sense of a community and that is a strength for us.”

There are now five known cases of Covid-19 in the Nelson region. In Nelson, a man and woman, both in their 70s and related to each other were confirmed to have the virus.

A woman in her 50s in Nelson was also confirmed and her case was linked to another.

The 51st case was a 20-year-old woman who was in self-isolation at home after returning to Nelson on flight 5065 from Auckland on March 16. She went into isolation immediately upon her return.

The case in Tasman involves a man in his 20s, his international travel details are yet to be released.

Rachel says she understands that those cases are well contained, however, she had a warning.

“We need to contemplate that there is going to be community outbreaks.”

That is where it becomes so important to follow the rules of self-isolation, she says.

“This is not a time that you will do half of the instructions. This is where you need to do what you have been told.”

Rachel implored people to be kind and hospitable during what will be a very trying time.

What does lockdown mean?

All non-essential businesses will be closed and everyone will have to stay at home except for solitary exercise and visiting essential services.

Supermarkets will stay open throughout the four-week lockdown and the supply chain will stay running.

Firstly, don’t panic. You will still be able to go to the supermarket where there will always be food.

All of Government Controller John Ombler, who heads the lockdown taskforce, said the supply chain will stay operational.

But you should prepare and start making arrangements.

This includes making plans with your families and loved ones, getting contact details within your community and thinking about how you’ll make it through the lockdown.

You should already know if you’re able to work from home.

If you’re in a different part of the country, you should make immediate arrangements to get home.

There will be allowances for people not able to do so by Wednesday, but you should call the Covid-19 information helpline on 0800 779 997 to let them know your circumstances and get advice.

You can still go to the supermarket, go for a walk, exercise and take the children to the park or the dog for a walk.

But you won’t be able to interact with people outside of your self-isolation group.

For example, you can take your children to the beach but they shouldn’t play with other children.

The goal of the lockdown is to limit the spread of the virus and if you’re looking for exceptions to the rule, you’ve missed the point of it and means other New Zealanders would die, said Ombler.

It could also mean New Zealand stays in lockdown for longer than four weeks, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“If you hang out with that friend at a park or see that family member for lunch, you risk spreading Covid-19 and extending everyone’s time in level 4.”

At the end of the four weeks, the Government will assess the risk and community spread and decide if it’s safe to drop the level to 3.

What are essential businesses?

Accommodation:

• Accommodation services for essential workers and people who need to be isolated/quarantined

Border:

• Customs New Zealand, Immigration New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries

Building and construction:

• Building and construction related to essential services, critical infrastructure, or immediately needed to maintain human health and safety at home/work

Courts, tribunals and the justice system:

• Courts of New Zealand and tribunals

• Critical Crown entities (eg Electoral Commission)

Fast-moving consumer goods:

• Businesses involved in the supply, delivery, distribution and sale of food, beverages and other key consumer goods (but not take-away shops)

Education:

• Schools and educational facilities (e.g. early childhood centres)

Financial services:

• Banks, insurers and other financial institutions

Health:

• Hospitals, primary care clinics, pharmacies, medical laboratories, care facilities

• Ambulance services

• Mortuary services

Local and national government:

• Any entity involved in Covid-19 response or that has Civil Defence/emergency management functions

• Key public services

Primary industries, including food and beverage production and processing:

• Packaging, production and processing of food and beverage products

• Food safety and verification, inspection or associated laboratory services, food safety and biosecurity functions

• Veterinary and animal health/welfare services

Public safety and national security:

• Emergency services

• Security and intelligence services

• Justice system

• Public safety and national security roles

Science:

• Any entity (including research organisations) involved in Covid-19 response, hazard monitoring, resilience, diagnostics for essential services

Social services:

• Welfare and social services, including NGOs, which meet immediate needs (further guidance will be provided)

Transport and logistics:

• Transport services

• New Zealand Post and courier services

• Any small passenger service vehicle driver – including taxis and ride-share services

Utilities and communications, including supply chains:

• Electricity, gas, water, waste, fuel, telecommunication services, internet providers and media