Playgrounds around Nelson have been closed to protect against the spread of Covid-19. Photo: Andy MacDonald

Covid-19 updates: What you need to know today in Nelson, March 26


• Covid-19 coronavirus: Fifty new cases, state of emergency declared

• New Zealand now in level 4 lockdown

• Nelson rubbish to be collected, recycling to go to landfill

• Tasman Mayor urges resident to take lockdown seriously

• No new cases in Nelson region

• One new confirmed case and one probable case in Marlborough

• List of what you can and can’t do below

New Zealand is now officially in self-isolation for at least four weeks as Covid-19 infection rates continue to escalate and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged Kiwis to stick to the plan to break the chain.

Ardern said the benefit of the lockdown would not be felt for many days to come and numbers would keep rising.

“Success won’t be instant,” Ardern said.

“But don’t be discouraged. Over time, we will see change if we all stick to the plan. You may not be at work, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a job. Your job is to save lives, and you can do that by staying home and breaking the chain.”

A state of national emergency was declared yesterday and is among many powers government agencies have to compel people to contribute to the effort.

One new confirmed case and one probable case in Marlborough was announced by the Ministry of Health yesterday, bringing the total of announced, confirmed and probable cases in the top of the south region to 12.

Contact tracing is underway as required by the Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service (NMPHS) and the national close contact tracing service.

New Zealand moved to alert level 4 at 11.59 last night, requiring all but essential services to close down or work from home.

Schools are closed and events and gatherings are banned although clear guidance on funerals has not yet been finalised.

Ardern urged people to stay home and mix only with their “bubble”.

She reiterated advice that playgrounds were out of bounds because there were so many surfaces on them on which the virus could stay for 72 hours.

She was aware of the idea of putting bears in windows to allow parents to take their children on “bear hunts” during their walks. Nelsonians have been posting photos of these online.

People are allowed to shop for food and exercise close to home but are requested to largely stay home and behave as though they had Covid-19.

Civil defence director Sarah Stuart-Black said she hoped she did not have to use the emergency powers to enforce the restrictions but there would be zero tolerance for people flouting the rules.

The only reasons people can go out is it they need to do a supermarket and/or pharmaceutical run, works for an essential business or do outdoor activities like gardening or going for a walk in their local area.

Council is following the lead of the Ministry of Health and the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board on how best to keep yourself, and the more vulnerable members of our community, safe and well.

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues.
  • Put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds).
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are a cough, a temperature of more than 38 degrees Celsius and shortness of breath. If you have any of these symptoms and have been to any countries or territories of concern, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

For the latest advice on Covid-19 visit the Government’s website.

Ratepayers who are worried about being able to pay their rates bill, can contact Council via our Customer Service Centre (03-546 0200) to work out a manageable payment plan.

Public health

Council plays a supporting role to the NMDHB who work with the Ministry of Health to plan our region’s response to Covid-19.

Community Based Assessment Centres (CBAC) are set up for Covid-19 testing throughout the region:

Nelson: The former Suburban Club building, 168 Tahunanui Drive

Motueka: Bridge club room on Tudor Street

Blenheim: Netball pavilion at the old netball court at Horton Park, Stephenson Street

Nelsonians with Coronavirus symptoms should phone Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or their GP, and will then be told whether they require Covid-19 testing at a CBAC. Please do not approach a CBAC directly.

Council is also taking the MoH lead on sharing health advice designed to stem the spread of the disease. The latest information regarding hand hygiene, physical distancing and self-isolation can be found at:

What can I do?

• Am I allowed outside?

Yes, Ardern said today she understands the need for fresh air but has urged people to “stay home” as much as possible. Stay in your local area. Do not stop to chat with others. If you see someone outside your “bubble” – the people you are self-isolating with – apply social distancing.

• What will police be doing?

Police will move around the country and ask questions of people outside of their homes. People without a valid reason to be outside can be reminded of their obligations, Ardern said. People just getting fresh air should be able to without being told to go home by police, and some common sense is needed in their approach.

• Can the kids go on the playground?

No. Ardern said today any common space like a surface at a playground presented risk.

• What about hunting and fishing?

No. When asked about fishing and hunting, Ardern said to stay home.

• Can I use my car?

“You only go out in your vehicle if you need to go and get essential food supplies, essential medical supplies or medical treatment. Otherwise, please stay at home,” police commissioner Mike Bush said.

• Can I see my family and friends during the lockdown?

From 11.59pm “everyone must stay at home unless they are working in essential services”, Government Controller John Ombler said during yesterday’s press conference. He said that meant no socialising with people outside their households.

• What if I live alone?

Ardern said if people live alone, they can have contact with one person outside of their home, but limit it to that interaction. She suggested a “buddy system” that involves someone who lives alone teaming up with another person living alone in their community. Those people can agree to only see each other and no one else through the lockdown period. Those designated helpers cannot be people who have compromised immunity.

• Am I an essential business worker?

The Government has put up a list of essential businesses, which is changing over time. Employees should have been notified by now if they work for an essential business. Companies who are unsure if their business comes under the list, an 0800 number will be available on the Government’s Covid-19 website.

• What about shared custody?

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has said children in shared custody arrangements can go between parents’ households as long as they live within the same community.

• Can I buy and order groceries?

Grocery stores are essential services and will remain open during the lockdown but maintaining distance is still important while shopping. Ardern has urged people to shop normally and food will still be available during the lockdown in their local areas. Any entity involved in the supply, delivery, distribution and sale of food, beverage and other key consumer goods essential for maintaining the wellbeing of people.

• Will my local dairy and bakery be open?

Dairies and corner stores are to remain open with a “one-in one-out” policy. The Government has decided that butchers, bakeries and similar small-scale food retailers are considered non-essential and will not be allowed to open, as similar products are readily available in supermarkets.

• Will fast food delivery be available?

No – fast food is not included in the essential business list. This includes fast food delivery and Uber Eats delivery. Food preparation is a particular area of risk which is why takeaways were closing, as while people collecting the food might not make contact, those in the kitchen would be.

• What about meal kit deliveries?

Meal kit delivery companies like My Food Bag and HelloFresh will continue to run as normal during the lockdown. Kevin Bowler, chief executive of My Food Bag, said he was seeking assurances on the matter, but was confident the service fell under the umbrella of essential services.

• Are liquor stores open?

Liquor stores are closed across the country, unless within a Licensing Trust Area (wuch as West Auckland, where supermarkets are dry) who have to use a “one-in, one-out” policy.

• Can I visit the pharmacy, doctors, hospitals?

Yes, health facilities are also included in the essential business list along with hospitals, primary care clinics, medical laboratories, care facilities (eg rest homes). If people need to see a doctor or other medical professional they MUST phone first. Most consultations will happen over the phone (or by videoconference) to stop any risk of the disease spreading by person-to-person contact. If a face-to-face meeting is required, their doctor or other medical professional will organise this with them. If they cannot get through and are severely unwell, for example having trouble breathing, contact emergency services (dial 111).

• Can I use public transport and normal transport

The Government have asked people to limit their movement around the country to help contain Covid-19. Airplanes, ferries, and public transport including trains and buses will not generally be available after midnight Wednesday. Public transport will only be available for those working in essential services, for medical reasons, and to get to the supermarket. Ferry services, road and rail will still be available for the transport of essential goods. Driving in private vehicles is allowed. Taxis and Ubers are still available to use as long as customers sit in the back seat.

• What about domestic air travel?

People needing to take domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the Covid-19 lockdown can do so until midnight on Friday. After that, the Government will be moving to air travel only applying to the transport of people undertaking essential services and the transport of freight. Visitors and tourists can use domestic air travel to proceed to an international airport.

• Is my recycling and rubbish still going to be collected?

Nelson and Tasman councils will collect rubbish and recycling but recycling will go to landfill as it cannot be sorted safely. If you want recyclables, recycled then you need to stockpile them until after the lockdown has ended.

• What will happen with my kids’ schooling?

The children of essential workers – like doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and police – are still able to go to school or early childhood centres until Wednesday March 25. For these families, schools will then be closed from the end of Wednesday. Educational providers that remain open over the next 48 hours will put in place appropriate public health measures – including physical distancing of 2 metres and contact tracing. The upcoming school term break will be brought forward to start on Monday, March 30. For the remainder of this week and through the term break, schools will establish ways to deliver teaching online and remotely.

• Will mechanics be open?

Some mechanics are expected to shut down, but the Government said that any entity providing services to keep vehicles operational for essential work purposes (eg vehicle testing, mechanics, tyre services) will remain open.

• Will service stations be open?

Yes – they are an essential service.

• Will The Warehouse be open?

Ardern said people shouldn’t expect to be able to go to their local Warehouse. The Government has confirmed The Warehouse is not an an essential service.

• Who can look after my kids if I am an essential worker?

A child of an essential worker who can’t stay home could have an identified buddy in their self-isolated group to take care of the child. Options are being looked at for childcare, but older people – including grandparents – and those with compromised immunity were not suitable people to look after kids. Police vetting would help ensure childcare services would be appropriate, and there were many ECE workers who could step into nanny roles. The Government has agreed to fund home-based childcare for children of essential workers who can’t arrange their own care during the coronavirus lockdown.

• If my pet gets sick, can I go to the vet?

Veterinarians are considered an essential service. As well as any entity whose closure would jeopardise the maintenance of animal health or welfare standards (including the short-term survival of a species).

• Will I still get mail?

Yes. NZ Post will continue to operate throughout the lockdown period, as it is considered an essential service. Post and courier deliveries via NZ Post will still happen.

• Will laundromats be open?

Self-service laundries can stay open, but people will need to stand two metres apart at all times.

• Will hardware stores be open?

Bunnings, Placemakers, Mitre 10 and other retailers essential to the supply chain for building and construction can stay open to trade customers for essential purposes only.

• Will there still be builders working?

It depends. Construction workers will still work on what is deemed essential or critical. For example, work that needs to happen in order to maintain human health or safety will still carry on.

• Can I finish my house renovation?

In theory, yes, provided you are doing it on your own or with the people you are self-isolating with. However you might find yourself short of supplies.

• What if something breaks in my home?

Electricians, telecommunication workers, plumbers, internet providers are all classed as essential services and will still work on critical services. This means that if you have a leak or your power goes out, you will still be able to call someone to help you.

• Will I still be able to online shop (other than groceries)?

Couriers and NZ Post will continue to operate, however they will only be delivering essential items. The list of essential items that can be purchased online during the lockdown is as follows: food, beverages, health and sanitation products, and toiletries.

  • With NZ Herald