March 24, 2020
Country prepares for lockdown
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New Zealand First Minister Shane Jones says the vulnerable state of Māori and Pacific populations in the face of an outbreak of Covid-19 was a significant factor in moving the country to level four.
From midnight tomorrow, the country will be locked down for four weeks with only essential services allowed to operate.
A rent freeze has been imposed and other financial measures are being taken to mitigate the effects of the lockdown.
Mr Jones says social distancing is essential, with no tangihanga, no unveilings, but he’s confident the country can get through.
"The rewharewha, the flu virus of 1918, I remember my grandmother telling me the stories, so it's not as if we were incapable of being adaptable. Absolute commitment to horoi o tatau ringa, washing our hands and being totally vigilant and having a profound belief the sun will shine again although we are going through this period of medical gloom," he says.
The level 4 alert coming in from midnight tomorrow means schools will close, air travel and public transport will only be for those who work in essential services, and non-essential businesses must immediately close.
As of yesterday afternoon, there were 102 confirmed cases of Covid 19 in New Zealand, including two which do not appear to be linked to anyone travelling from overseas.
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