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Everyone will have to stay at home from Wednesday. This means you can’t go to work, unless you’re considered an “essential worker”.

Staying at home is meant to reduce the transmission of the virus and, for it to work, you are asked to only have contact with the people you live with.

If you want to talk to a friend, call them. If you want to talk to a neighbour, do it over the fence. Drop off groceries to your grandma, but keep a 2-metre distance for her safety.

Ardern said this did not mean you cannot leave your house.

“You can leave your home for fresh air, a walk, exercise. To take your children outside. But remember the simple principle. It must be solitary,” she said.

And the rules are flexible, or at least yet to be clarified, to account for some family situations. Children would not be barred from travelling between the homes of separate parents, for instance.


Schools and early educations centres have been ordered to close to most students from Monday afternoon, with only the children of essential workers still able to attend school until the end of Wednesday.

Doctors, nurses, ambulance officers and police officers are considered essential workers who can send their children to school until Wednesday.

From Wednesday midnight, schools will be closed for at least four weeks. While the school holidays will be brought forward to be captured in this month-long closure, students will be sent home with distance learning work.


Supermarket workers, pharmacists, teachers, doctors and nurses, ambulance officers, and police officers are all counted as essential workers.

A list of essential workers, found on the government’s Covid-19 website, also includes accommodation providers that are required for people in self-isolation or quarantine, staff at the border, and people working in courts and the justice system.

Building and construction workers will carry on working on essential services, critical services, or in cases where they’re needed to maintain human health or safety.

Meaning if your roof is taken off by a gust of wind, a builder would presumably be allowed to fix it. Electricians, telco workers, internet providers, and the media will still be able to go to work.

Freight and courier drivers are also considered essential workers as they transport and deliver food.

But this doesn’t guarantee you will have online shopping delivered, as the company you buy goods from might not have staff sending out packages.

Local and central government workers at key agencies and those involved in the Covid-19 response can still go to work. So too will New Zealand’s spies, scientists involved in tackling Covid-19, and charity workers who are helping the needy.

Primary industry workers – which includes food production, packaging, and processing – are considered essential workers. So too are vets.

Food distributors, such as supermarkets, will be expected to keep showing up to work. Takeaway shops will be closed.

Employees who continue to work in shared spaces are asked to work in shifts stagger meal breaks and maintain social distance from one another.


Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open throughout the month-long shut down. Within an hour of the announced lockdown, queues were already forming at supermarkets around the country.

But Ardern and government officials continue to issue the same advice: Don’t panic buy.

“If you do not have immediate needs, do not go to the supermarket … there will be enough for everyone if we shop normally,” Ardern said on Monday.

Supermarkets are not expected to become the community’s social hub, however. Social distancing should be practised.

Entry to supermarkets may be managed by police if people do not show restraint.


Non-essential businesses will be closing. This means bars, cafes, gyms, cinemas, and public facilities likes pools, museums and libraries will be closed for at least four weeks.

The definition a non-essential business or public place is broad, any place “where the public congregate must close their face to face function”.

There has been a warning, if the order is flouted, enforcement measures may be used.


Airplanes, ferries, and public transport including trains and buses will not generally be available after midnight Wednesday.

While some services will continue to transport essential workers to their jobs, and freight around the country, by-and-large movement will be extremely limited.


Air New Zealand will increase domestic flight capacity to allow people to get home before a country-wide lockdown to limit the spread of coronavirus starts on Wednesday.


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