New Zealand is preparing to enter a one-month national bloc from Wednesday, with the entire country ordered to stay home apart from those in essential services.
On Monday, the nation was given 48 hours to prepare for schools, businesses and community services to turn off the lights in a desperate attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The move came after the number of Covid-19 cases in New Zealand rose to over 100.
In a speech to the nation, the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said she was unwilling to endanger the lives of her citizens.
“The worst case scenario is simply intolerable, it would represent the greatest loss of life of New Zealanders in our history and I will not take advantage of it.” Ardern has announced that the country will immediately move to level three, and then to four, the highest level, on Wednesday.
“I say to all New Zealanders: the government will do everything possible to protect you. Now I’m asking you to do everything possible to protect all of us. Kiwi: go home. “
The blockade will last for a month and, if the trend of the cases slows down, it could subsequently be partially attenuated in specific areas. Ardern said it was now established that the community broadcast was taking place in New Zealand and that if it took off, the number of cases would double every five days, with models warning the government that tens of thousands of New Zealanders could die.
“The situation here is moving at a rhythm, and so are we. The trajectory is very clear, act now or risk the virus catching on like it did elsewhere. “
“At the moment we have 102 cases, but also Italy once, now the virus has overwhelmed their health system and hundreds of people die every day”.
Ardern said that if the country did not close, he would face a deadly toll beyond anything he has ever experienced before and wanted to give health services “a chance to fight”.
Thirty-six new cases of coronavirus were confirmed Monday, bringing the national total to 102, spread in the northern and southern islands.
Ardern said he knew the measures would induce anxiety for many New Zealanders and that they had to be “strong and kind” to each other during the unprecedented crisis.
“Today, get your neighbor’s phone number, organize a community group chat, get your tools working from home, cancel social gatherings of any size or shape, get ready to walk around the block keeping a distance two meters between you.
“If in doubt, don’t go out.”
The Ministry of Health was also working on an urgent plan to support mental health while they stayed at home until April, said Ardern.
Essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies and medical clinics, petrol stations and petrol stations would remain open throughout the blocking period. Ardern urged people to avoid the supermarket if they didn’t have urgent needs.
“We are all like a nation preparing to isolate itself, as we have seen it done in many other countries.
“These measures will place the most significant restrictions on New Zealand movements in modern history, this is not a decision taken lightly, but it is our best chance to slow down the virus and save lives.”
“I know what I’m asking for is significant, but I’m asking New Zealanders to go through this next phase in an orderly way,” said Ardern.
People could still go for a walk, take the kids outside and take their pets for a walk, Ardern said, but they must stay away from anyone who isn’t indoors.
The application would have been provided by police and military officers, and the government urged New Zealand not to take supervisory police measures into its own hands – “this is our job,” he said.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson did not rule out that a universal basic income for all New Zealanders could be introduced or that New Zealanders might be able to access their superannuation accounts early, as those in Australia now can.
Robertson said that the entire arrest of the country has the sensational support of the business community and has been seen as the best chance to help the economy recover.
On social media, many were shocked by the prime minister’s announcement, but applauded his calm and leadership.
Opposition leader Simon Bridges and many eminent scientists and health experts have called for a full national arrest since last week and applauded the government for taking action so quickly – far ahead of many European countries that they are now facing hundreds of deaths.