New Zealand PM Ardern declares national state of emergency to tackle coronavirus

New Zealand PM Ardern declares national state of emergency to tackle coronavirus :- With another record amount of COVID-19 cases identified, the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday declared a state of national emergency as the country prepared to go into a complete lockdown at midnight to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

New Zealand PM Ardern declares national state of emergency

Ardern declared a national state of emergency as the number of cases of COVID-19, the disease associated with the coronavirus, surged by a record 50 cases to take the national tally to 205.

The government has imposed self-isolation for everyone, with all non-essential services, schools, and offices to be shut for a month from midnight.

Ardern told parliament, “From midnight tonight, we bunker down for four weeks to try and stop the virus in its tracks, to break the chain. Make no mistake this will get worse before it gets better. We will have a lag and cases will increase for the next week or so. Then we’ll begin to know how successful we have been.”

At a news conference later in the day, Ardern said modelling suggested New Zealand could have several thousands of cases of COVID-19 before the numbers start coming down.

She further added, “If you have any questions about what you can or can’t do, apply a simple principle: Act like you have COVID-19. Every move you then make is a risk to someone else. That is how we must all collectively think. That’s why the joy of physically visiting other family, children, grandchildren, friends, neighbours is on hold. Because we’re all now putting each other first. And that is what we as a nation do so well.”

Meanwhile, all non-essential services, bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries, playgrounds and any other place where the public congregate will be closed during the lockdown. However, supermarkets, doctors, pharmacies, service stations and access to essential banking services will all be available.

The disruptions are expected to have a deep impact on businesses and lead to thousands of job losses. Some firms have already announced job cuts. However, the government has announced billions of dollars in support for small businesses, workers and families, and promised more in the coming days.

On Wednesday, the government has also announced a six-month freeze on residential rent increases and increased protection from having tenancies terminated.

Ardern said that it was ok to go for a walk with your children, a run near your house, or drive to get groceries during the lockdown. But everyone had to keep 2 meters (6 feet) distance, and people may be stopped and questioned by the police.

This is only the second time in New Zealand’s history that a national emergency has been declared, with the first one on 23 February 2011, after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the South Island city of Christchurch, killing almost 200.

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