What you need to know


As of 11.59pm yesterday, New Zealand is now in an extreme and unprecedented nationwide lockdown. All non-essential businesses are now 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. Some common concerns are:

Can I still go outside?

Yes. You can still go to the supermarket, go for a walk, exercise or 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.

The goal of the lockdown was to limit the spread of the virus and if you were looking for exceptions to the rule, you’d missed the point of it and it meant other New Zealanders would die, All of Government Controller John Ombler said.

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

“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 if I co-parent?

The goal of the lockdown is to limit human interaction and contain the spread of Covid-19.

If you are able to share your children within your self-isolation, you can continue to do so.

If this isn’t possible, the Government is working on advice. In the meantime you should call the information helpline on 0800779-997.

How will it be enforced?

Compliance with the lockdown will be enforced by the police and the New Zealand Defence Force.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush, who is on the Government’s lockdown task force, said Kiwis could expect to see a strong police presence on the street.

There is likely to be some military presence as well.

Authorities have the power to enforce the lockdown if they see people flouting the rules.

Mr Bush said: “It’s about education and encouragement place where we have to enforce these directions, but we will if required.”

The Government was also looking at measures to enforce quarantine on people who refused to comply, Director-general of Health Ashley Bloomfield said.

What is considered an essential service?

Supermarkets and the supply chain that keeps them stocked will stay in operation. You should not panic shop and stockpile groceries or pharmaceuticals.

The Prime Minister said there would be “plenty of food to go around”.

Doctors, pharmacists and vets will stay open, as will emergency services.

Some construction activity will continue.

Public transport will continue to operate and you will be able to use it to get to any essential service you need.

What happens to schools?

All schools are now closed for everyone except the children of identified essential workers.

The school holidays have been brought forward so they will fall inside the four-week lockdown.

Outside, the Government is working to support schools and other education facilities to teach pupils online at home.

This includes ensuring all children have broadband and devices they can work on.

Will I still get paid?

Your employer should do everything it can to allow you to work from home.

If that is not possible, your employer has access to the Government’s wage subsidy scheme.

That means full-time employees should get $585 a week for up to 12 weeks and part-time employees (fewer than 20 hours a week) should get $350 a week.

This will be paid through your normal payroll channels.

What happens to restaurants?

Restaurants are now shut down.

This means there will not be any fast food or takeaway options during the lockdown and you will have to cook for your family.

It is not yet clear whether weekly meal kits will be able to continue operating.

What if I need to urgently travel during the lockdown?

This situation is unprecedented and there is no model for the Government to follow.

Mr Ombler said people should contact 0800779-997 if they had questions and the Government would update its advice.

The Government is working to find solutions as and when questions and scenarios arise.