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COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand

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COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand
COVID-19 outbreak New Zealand per capita cases map.svg
Confirmed cases per 100,000 residents by health board district
COVID-19 Outbreak Cases in New Zealand (DHB Totals).svg
Map of the outbreak in New Zealand by district health board (as of 27 May 2020)
  200+ confirmed cases
  100–199 confirmed cases
  50–99 confirmed cases
  10–49 confirmed cases
  1–9 confirmed cases
DiseaseCOVID-19
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationNew Zealand
First outbreakWuhan, Hubei, China
Index caseAuckland, Auckland Region
Arrival date28 February 2020
(3 months, 1 week and 2 days)
Confirmed cases1,154[1] (total)
Active cases1
Suspected cases350[1] (total)
Recovered1,481[1]
Deaths
22[1]
Government website
www.covid19.govt.nz
Suspected cases have not been confirmed as being due to this strain by laboratory tests, although some other strains may have been ruled out.

The COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand is part of the ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case of the disease in New Zealand was reported on 28 February 2020. As of 31 May 2020, the country has a total of 1,504 cases (1,154 confirmed and 350 probable[a]) and 22 people have died from the virus, with cases recorded in all twenty district health board (DHB) areas.[1] The pandemic peaked in early April, with 89 new cases recorded per day and 929 active cases. As of 30 May 2020, the country has only one active case, located in the Auckland DHB area; the most recent new case was reported on 22 May 2020.[1]

All borders and entry ports of New Zealand were closed to all non-residents at 11:59 pm on 19 March 2020, with returning citizens and residents being required to self-isolate. Since 10 April, all New Zealanders returning from overseas must go into two weeks of supervised quarantine.

A four-level alert level system was introduced on 21 March to manage the outbreak within New Zealand. The alert level was initially set at level 2, but was subsequently raised to level 3 on the afternoon of 23 March. Beginning at 11:59 pm on 25 March, the alert level was moved to level 4, putting the country into a nationwide lockdown. The alert level was moved back down to level 3 at 11:59 pm on 27 April, partially lifting some lockdown restrictions, and moved to level 2 at 11:59 pm on 13 May, lifting the rest of the lockdown restrictions while maintaining physical distancing.

Background

On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was the cause of a respiratory illness (coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19), found in a cluster of people in Wuhan, Hubei, Peoples Republic of China, which had been reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.[2][3]

The case fatality ratio for COVID-19 has been much lower than SARS of 2003,[4][5] but the transmission has been significantly greater, with a significant total death toll worldwide.[6][4]

Transmission timeline

COVID-19 cases in New Zealand  ()
     Deaths        Recoveries        Active cases

Feb Feb Mar Mar Apr Apr May May Jun Jun Last 15 days Last 15 days

Date
# of cases
# of deaths
2020-02-28
1(n.a.)
1(=)
2020-03-04
2(+1)
2020-03-05
4(+2)
2020-03-06
4(=)
2020-03-07
5(+1)
5(=)
2020-03-14
6(+1)
2020-03-15
8(+2)
2020-03-16
8(=)
2020-03-17
12(+4)
2020-03-18
20(+8)
2020-03-19
28(+8)
2020-03-20
39(+11)
2020-03-21
52(+13)
2020-03-22
66(+14)
2020-03-23
102(+36)
2020-03-24
155(+53)
2020-03-25
205(+50)
2020-03-26
283(+78)
2020-03-27
368(+85)
2020-03-28
451(+83)
2020-03-29
514(+63) 1(n.a.)
2020-03-30
589(+75) 1(=)
2020-03-31
647(+58) 1(=)
2020-04-01
708(+61) 1(=)
2020-04-02
797(+89) 1(=)
2020-04-03
868(+71) 1(=)
2020-04-04
950(+82) 1(=)
2020-04-05
1,039(+89) 1(=)
2020-04-06
1,106(+67) 1(=)
2020-04-07
1,160(+54) 1(=)
2020-04-08
1,210(+50) 1(=)
2020-04-09
1,239(+29) 1(=)
2020-04-10
1,283(+44) 2(+1)
2020-04-11
1,312(+29) 4(+2)
2020-04-12
1,330(+18) 4(=)
2020-04-13
1,349(+19) 5(+1)
2020-04-14
1,366(+17) 9(+4)
2020-04-15
1,386(+20) 9(=)
2020-04-16
1,401(+15) 9(=)
2020-04-17
1,409(+8) 11(+2)
2020-04-18
1,422(+13) 11(=)
2020-04-19
1,431(+9) 12(+1)
2020-04-20
1,440(+9) 12(=)
2020-04-21
1,445(+5) 13(+1)
2020-04-22
1,448(+3) 14(+1)
2020-04-23
1,451(+3) 16(+2)
2020-04-24
1,456(+5) 17(+1)
2020-04-25
1,461(+5) 18(+1)
2020-04-26
1,470(+9) 18(=)
2020-04-27
1,469(-1) 19(+1)
2020-04-28
1,472(+3) 19(=)
2020-04-29
1,474(+2) 19(=)
2020-04-30
1,476(+2) 19(=)
2020-05-01
1,479(+3) 19(=)
2020-05-02
1,485(+6) 20(+1)
2020-05-03
1,487(+2) 20(=)
2020-05-04
1,487(=) 20(=)
2020-05-05
1,486(-1) 20(=)
2020-05-06
1,488(+2) 21(+1)
2020-05-07
1,489(+1) 21(=)
2020-05-08
1,490(+1) 21(=)
2020-05-09
1,492(+2) 21(=)
2020-05-10
1,494(+2) 21(=)
2020-05-11
1,497(+3) 21(=)
2020-05-12
1,497(=) 21(=)
2020-05-13
1,497(=) 21(=)
2020-05-14
1,497(=) 21(=)
2020-05-15
1,498(+1) 21(=)
2020-05-16
1,498(=) 21(=)
2020-05-17
1,499(+1) 21(=)
2020-05-18
1,499(=) 21(=)
2020-05-19
1,503(=[b]) 21(=)
2020-05-20
1,503(=) 21(=)
2020-05-21
1,503(=) 21(=)
2020-05-22
1,504(+1) 21(=)
2020-05-23
1,504(=) 21(=)
2020-05-24
1,504(=) 21(=)
2020-05-25
1,504(=) 21(=)
2020-05-26
1,504(=) 21(=)
2020-05-27
1,504(=) 21(=)
2020-05-28
1,504(=) 22(+1)
2020-05-29
1,504(=) 22(=)
1,504(=) 22(=)
2020-06-05
1,504(=) 22(=)
Sources: Official reports from the New Zealand Ministry of Health[8][9]

All of the following dates and times are in New Zealand Time: NZDT (UTC+13:00) until 5 April and NZST (UTC+12:00) thereafter.

Data about the previous day is extracted from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research's (ESR) database at 9:00am daily and is publicly released by the Ministry of Health around 1:00pm.

January 2020

On 28 January, the Ministry of Health set up the National Health Coordination Centre (NHCC) in response to the outbreak.[10] An Infectious and Notifiable Diseases Order was issued to take effect from 30 January,[11] which required health practitioners to report any suspected cases under the Health Act 1956.[12]

February 2020

On 3 February, the New Zealand Government announced that foreign travellers who left from China would be denied entry to New Zealand, with only New Zealand citizens and permanent residents and their family being allowed to enter.[13] Universities asked for the Government to exempt Chinese students travelling to study in New Zealand.[14][15] Foreigners who left China and spent at least 14 days in another country were permitted to enter New Zealand.[16] The ban was extended for an additional eight days on 24 February.[17]

On 4 February, the cruise ship Diamond Princess was quarantined by Japanese authorities in Yokohama after passengers were confirmed to have COVID-19.[18] Eleven New Zealanders were reported to be on board.[19] By 20 February, four New Zealand passengers had tested positive for the virus and were being treated in Japan. Two of them had been due to travel on an evacuation flight being organised by the Australian government.[20]

On 5 February, a government-chartered flight operated by Air New Zealand arrived in Auckland from Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The city of Wuhan had been under lockdown since 23 January.[21] The flight carried 193 passengers, including 54 New Zealand citizens and 44 permanent residents.[22] Thirty-five Australian passengers were transferred to an Australian flight, while the remaining 157 passengers were quarantined in a military facility at Whangaparaoa for 14 days. The passengers were subsequently released on 19 February.[23]

On 7 February, the Ministry of Health set up a dedicated Healthline freephone number (0800 358 5453) for COVID-19-related calls.[24]

New Zealand confirmed its first case on 28 February, a New Zealand citizen in her 60s who had recently visited Iran, returning via Bali, Indonesia, and arriving in New Zealand on 26 February at Auckland. She had two tests for COVID-19 that were negative, but a third test using a more specific sample was positive. She was admitted to Auckland City Hospital.[25][26][27][28] New Zealand was the 48th country to have a confirmed case of COVID-19.[25] Also on 28 February, the Government extended the travel restrictions to include travellers coming from Iran.[29]

A poster from "Unite against COVID-19", the New Zealand government's official information campaign.

March 2020

Part of a campaign in New Zealand to encourage people to self isolate

On 4 March, a New Zealand woman in her 30s who had returned from northern Italy on 25 February was confirmed as the second case of the virus in New Zealand.[30] She had flown into Auckland via Singapore, and subsequently caught domestic flights to and from Palmerston North on 2 March.[31] Her partner also displayed symptoms of the virus, and was confirmed as the fourth case on 6 March.[31][32]

On 5 March, the third confirmed New Zealand case and the first case of local transmission was reported. An Auckland man in his 40s was infected with COVID-19 by a family member who had returned from Iran on 23 February.[33] Three other members of his family had previously been unwell. Two family members had arrived in New Zealand from Iran on 23 February.[34] On 7 March, a fifth case was announced, a woman in her 40s who was the partner of the third case.[35][36] One of the family members who had returned from Iran was the father of the third case, and is considered a probable case.[37]

On 6 March, the Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said that eight people from New Zealand had been passengers on the 11–21 February cruise of Grand Princess from San Francisco to Mexico and back and may have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. All eight had already returned to New Zealand.[38] One was a woman in her 70s who had been in the hospital for respiratory illness and was discharged and is considered a probable case.[37]

On 14 March, a sixth confirmed case was announced, an Auckland man in his 60s who had recently returned from the United States. He went into self isolation.[39]

On 15 March, two more cases were confirmed, bringing the total number of infected in New Zealand to eight. The seventh case was a man who travelled from Australia to Wellington. The eighth case was of a woman who was a visitor from Denmark arriving in Auckland via Doha and then Christchurch, before driving on towards Queenstown, where she became ill and was hospitalised.[40]

On 17 March, four more cases were confirmed, bringing the total number of infected in New Zealand to 12.[41] The ninth and tenth cases were a Wellington man and his father, who had travelled back from the United States. The eleventh case was a man from Dunedin, who had travelled back from Germany.[42][43] The twelfth case was a Dunedin high school student who was the son of the eleventh case.[41][44]

On 18 March, the Ministry of Health confirmed that New Zealand had eight new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 20. Four of these new cases were in Auckland, two in the Waikato region, one in Christchurch, and one in Invercargill.[45][46]

On 19 March, the Ministry of Health confirmed another eight new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 28. Two of the new cases were in Auckland, two in Taranaki, one in Dunedin, one in Queenstown, one in Northland, and one in Rotorua.[47][48][49]

On 20 March, the Ministry of Health confirmed 11 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 39: five in Auckland, two in Waikato, two in Wellington, one in Canterbury, and one in Hawke's Bay. All new cases were associated with overseas travel.[50][51]

On 21 March, 13 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total to 52. For two of the cases, no link to overseas travel had been discovered and the Ministry of Health was continuing to investigate.[52][53]

On 22 March, 14 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total to 66. 11 of the new cases had a history of international travel. Two of the other cases had attended the World Hereford Conference in Queenstown, which was held on 9–13 March and had New Zealand and international delegates.[54][55]

On 23 March, 36 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total to 102.[56][57] This number includes two suspected community-spread cases, which prompted the Prime Minister to declare that New Zealand would enter alert level 3, effective immediately, during the health ministry briefing from 1:40 pm.

On 24 March, 40 new cases were confirmed, out of 1400 tests processed. From this date on, probable cases will be included in the numbers of cases, bringing the total number of cases to 155. These figures also include four cases of community transmission; three in Auckland and one in Wairarapa.[58][59][60]

On 25 March, 50 new cases were reported, including probable cases, bringing the total number of confirmed and probable cases to 205. A national state of emergency was declared by Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare at 12:21 pm in Parliament before the country entered alert level 4 at 11:59 pm. This state of emergency was declared for seven days; but, was announced with the possibility of being extended.[61][62]

On 26 March, a further 78 confirmed and probable cases were reported, bringing the total to 283. A total of 27 people have now recovered from the virus.[63] In addition, it was reported that 168 New Zealand travellers were in quarantine.[64]

On 27 March, 85 new confirmed and probable cases were reported, bringing the total to 368.[65]

On 28 March, health authorities reported 83 new cases including 78 confirmed and 5 probable cases, bringing the total to 451.[66] Air New Zealand also confirmed that several of its staff had tested positive for the coronavirus.[67]

On 29 March, 60 new confirmed and 3 new probable cases were reported, bringing the total of confirmed and probable cases to 514 (476 confirmed and 38 probable). A total of 56 people have recovered. The first coronavirus-related death in New Zealand was reported on this day. The individual was a woman in her 70s from the West Coast region.[68][69]

On 30 March, 76 more confirmed cases were reported and one previous probable case was confirmed negative, bringing the total number of confirmed and probable cases to 589 (552 confirmed and 37 probable). On this day it was also reported that the total number of confirmed community-spread cases was 10, or around 2% of the total, and that 57% of confirmed cases are directly related to overseas travel and 27% are close contacts of a confirmed case. Five new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 63. Additionally, 12 people were in hospital, with 2 being in intensive care.[70][71]

On 31 March, 58 new confirmed and probable cases were reported, bringing the total to 647 (600 confirmed and 47 probable), and 11 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 74.[72][73]

April 2020

On 1 April, 61 new cases (47 confirmed and 14 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 708 (647 confirmed and 61 probable).[74][75] That same day, it was reported that the Chatham Islands, which are part of New Zealand, were facing a food shortage due to panic buying.[76]

COVID-19-related graffiti reads "exciting times for MISANTHROPES" in Island Bay, New Zealand, 2 April 2020

On 2 April, 89 new cases (76 confirmed and 13 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 797 (723 confirmed and 74 probable). In addition it was reported that 92 people in total had recovered and 13 were in stable conditions in hospital.[77][78]

On 3 April, 71 new cases (49 confirmed and 22 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 868 (772 confirmed and 96 probable), and 11 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 103.[79] There were 13 people in hospital, one of whom was in critical condition. It was reported that there were ten clusters of the virus, with the biggest being at Marist College in Auckland.[80][81]

On 4 April, 82 new cases (52 confirmed and 30 probable) were reported, bringing the total number to 950 (824 confirmed and 126 probable), and that 24 more people had recovered, bringing the total to 127.[82] Over 3,600 people had been tested the previous day.[83][84]

On 5 April, 89 new cases (48 confirmed and 41 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,039 (872 confirmed and 167 probable), and 29 more recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 156.[85] The number of people in hospital rose to 15, with three in intensive care, of whom two were in critical condition. Two new clusters were reported, one each in Auckland and Canterbury, bringing the total to 12. Ethnicity statistics were released that day: 74% of those with coronavirus were Pākehā, 8.3% Asian, 7.6% Māori, and 3.3% Pasifika.[86][c]

On 6 April, 67 new cases (39 confirmed and 28 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,106 (911 confirmed and 195 probable), and 20 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 176.[88] There were 13 people in hospital for COVID-19, and three people remain in intensive care.[89]

On 7 April, 54 new cases (32 confirmed and 22 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,160 (943 confirmed and 217 probable), and 65 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 241,[90] marking the first time that the number of active cases had dropped (as the total number of cases includes recoveries).[91]

On 8 April, 50 new cases were reported (26 confirmed and 24 probable), bringing the total to 1,210 (969 confirmed and 241 probable), and 41 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 282.[92] Twelve people were in hospital with four in intensive care, two of whom were in critical condition.[93]

On 9 April, 29 new cases (23 confirmed and 6 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,239 (992 confirmed and 247 probable), and 35 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 317. Fourteen people were in hospital,[94] with two remaining in critical condition. Compulsory quarantine for New Zealanders returning home was announced to commence by the end of the day.[95]

On 10 April, 44 new cases (23 confirmed and 21 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,283 (1,015 confirmed and 267 probable), and 56 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 373.[96] A woman in her nineties, who was one of the Rosewood rest home cluster, was reported to have died in Christchurch the previous day.[97]

On 11 April, 29 new cases (20 confirmed and 9 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,312 (1,035 confirmed and 276 probable), and 49 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 422. Two additional deaths were confirmed:[98] a man in his eighties in Wellington and a man in his seventies in Christchurch who was part of the Rosewood rest home cluster.[99]

On 12 April, 18 new cases (14 confirmed and 4 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,330 (1,049 confirmed and 281 probable), and 49 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 471.[100][101]

On 13 April, 19 new cases (15 confirmed and 4 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,349 (1,064 confirmed and 285 probable), and 75 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 546.[102] One further death, a man in his eighties from the Rosewood rest home cluster, was reported, bringing the total death count to five, three of whom were residents of the Rosewood rest home.[103] Two new clusters were reported: one in a rest home in Auckland and another in a workplace in Christchurch.[104]

On 14 April, 17 new cases (8 confirmed and 9 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,366 (1,072 confirmed and 294 probable), and 82 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 628.[105] Four new deaths were reported, three of whom were from the Rosewood rest home cluster – two men in their nineties and a man in his eighties – as well as a man in his seventies in Wellington, bringing the total death toll to nine.[106]

On 15 April, 20 new cases (6 confirmed and 14 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,386 (1,078 confirmed and 308 probable), and 100 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 728.[107]

On 16 April, 15 new cases (6 confirmed and 9 probable) were reported bringing the total to 1,401 (1,084 confirmed and 317 probable), and 42 recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 770.[108] Twelve people were in hospital, with three in intensive care, two of whom were in a critical condition.[109]

On 17 April, 8 new cases (2 confirmed and 6 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,409 (1,086 confirmed and 323 probable), and 46 recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 816.[110] Two further deaths were announced: a women in her eighties who was part of the Rosewood rest home cluster, and a man in his nineties who was linked to the Matamata cluster.[111] The Wairarapa District Health Board became the first DHB area to record zero active cases.[112]

On 18 April, 13 new cases (8 confirmed and 5 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,422 (1,094 confirmed and 328 probable), and 51 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 867.[113] The number of people in hospital rose by six, with eight residents of the St Margaret's rest home being moved to hospital and two people being discharged, bringing the total number of people in hospital to 20.[114]

On 19 April, 9 new cases (4 confirmed and 5 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,431 (1,098 confirmed and 333 probable), and 45 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 912. Eighteen people are in hospital.[115] One previous death from earlier in the week was confirmed in a post-mortem to have been caused by COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 12.[116] That same day, regional health authorities also confirmed that three boys aged under one years old in the Southland and Waikato regions had contracted the coronavirus.[117]

On 20 April, 9 new cases (7 confirmed and 2 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,440 (1,105 confirmed and 335 probable), and 62 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 974. Fourteen people are in hospital.[118] During a press conference at 4 pm, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that New Zealand will drop down to alert level 3 at 11:59 pm on 27 April. Businesses and schools were allowed to have employees prepare the premises for alert level 3 during last week of alert level 4.[119] The country will remain at alert level 3 for at least two weeks, with the decision of whether to move down to level 2 set to be made on 11 May.[120] Ardern also reported that the country has a transmission rate of 0.48, meaning that those with the virus pass it on to 0.48 other people on average.[121]

On 21 April, 5 new cases (2 confirmed and 3 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,445 (1,107 confirmed and 338 probable), and 32 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,006.[122] One further death was reported, a women in her seventies from the St Margaret's rest home cluster, bringing the total number of deaths to 13.[123] Additionally, a New Zealander in his forties died in Peru after missing a repatriation flight, however this is not included in Ministry of Health figures.[124]

On 22 April, 6 new cases (all confirmed) were reported, bringing the total to 1,451 (1,113 confirmed and 338 probable), and 30 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,036.[125] One further death was reported, a woman in her eighties from the Rosewood rest home cluster, bringing the total to 14.[126]

Dominion Road in Auckland at 7 am on a Wednesday
Level 4 lockdown
Level 3 lockdown

On 23 April, 3 new cases (2 confirmed and 1 probable) were reported and 3 previous confirmed cases were rescinded, keeping the total at 1,451 (1,112 confirmed and 339 probable), and 29 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,065.[127] Two further deaths were reported: a women in her sixties in Dunedin and a man in Christchurch who was part of the Rosewood rest home cluster, and eight people are in hospital.[128]

On 24 April, 5 new cases (2 confirmed and 3 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,456 (1,114 confirmed and 342 probable), and 30 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,095.[129] One further death was reported: a man in his sixties from the Rosewood rest home cluster, bringing the total to 17, of whom 10 were from Rosewood.[130]

On 25 April, 5 new cases (3 confirmed and 2 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,461 (1,117 confirmed and 344 probable), and 23 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,118.[131] One further death was reported, a woman in her seventies from the St Margaret's rest home cluster, bringing the total to 18.[132]

On 26 April, 9 new cases (4 confirmed and 5 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,470 (1,121 confirmed and 349 probable), and 24 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,142.[133]

On 27 April, 5 new cases (1 confirmed and 4 probable) were reported and 6 previous probable cases were rescinded, bringing the total down to 1,469 (1,122 confirmed and 347 probable), and 38 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,180.[134] One further death was reported, a woman in her nineties from the St Margaret's rest home cluster, bringing the total to 19.[135] New Zealand entered alert level 3 at 11:59 pm.

On 28 April, 3 new cases (2 confirmed and 1 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,472 (1,124 confirmed and 348 probable), and 34 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,214.[136]

On 29 April, 2 new cases (1 confirmed and 1 probable) were reported and 1 previous probable case was confirmed, bringing the total number of cases to 1,474 (1,126 confirmed and 348 probable), and 15 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,229.[137]

On 30 April, 3 new cases (all confirmed) were reported and 1 previous probable case was rescinded, bringing the total to 1,476 (1,129 confirmed and 347 probable), and 12 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,241.[138] Ardern reported that 2% of children in school and 4% of children in early childhood education were in attendance the previous day, which was the first day schools were reopened.[139]

May 2020

On 1 May, 3 new cases (all confirmed) were reported, bringing the total to 1,479 (1,132 confirmed and 347 probable), and 11 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total 1,252. Six people were in hospital.[140]

On 2 May, 6 new cases (2 confirmed and 4 probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,485 (1,134 confirmed and 351 probable), and 11 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,263. Five people are in hospital.[141] One new death, a man in his eighties from the Rosewood rest home cluster, was reported, bringing the total to 20.[142]

On 3 May, 2 new cases (both confirmed) were reported, bringing the total to 1,487 (1,136 confirmed and 351 probable), with 8 people in hospital, and 3 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,266.[143]

On 4 May, no new cases were reported, but one previous probable case was reclassified as confirmed, keeping the total at 1,487 (1,137 confirmed and 350 probable), with 4 people in hospital, and 10 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,276.[144]

On 5 May, no new cases were reported for the second day in a row and one previous probable case was rescinded, bringing the total down to 1,486 (1,137 confirmed and 349 probable), and 26 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,302.[145]

On 6 May, 2 new cases were reported (1 confirmed and 1 probable), bringing the total to 1,488 (1,138 confirmed and 350 probable), and 14 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,316. Two people are in hospital.[146] One further death, a women in her sixties from the Rosewood rest home, was reported, bringing the total death toll to 21.[147]

On 7 May, 1 new (confirmed) case was reported, bringing the total to 1,489 (1,139 confirmed and 350 probable), and 16 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,332. A record 7,323 tests were completed the previous day.[148]

On 8 May, one new confirmed case was reported and a previous probable case was reclassified as confirmed, bringing the total to 1,490 (1,141 confirmed and 349 probable) with three in hospital, and 15 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,347, or 90% of all cases. A record 7,812 tests were completed the previous day.[149]

On 9 May, two new cases (one confirmed and the other probable) were reported, bringing the total to 1,492 (1,142 confirmed and 350 probable) with two people in hospital, and 21 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,368.[150]

On 10 May, two new cases (both confirmed) were reported, bringing the total to 1,494 (1,144 confirmed and 350 probable), and three more people were reported to have recovered, bringing the total to 1,371, with 102 active cases. Two people remain in hospital.[151]

In the week starting 11 May, five new cases (all confirmed) were reported, bringing the total to 1,499 (1,149 confirmed and 350 probable), and 62 recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,433. 11 May marked the first time since 22 March where the active case count was below 100, dropping to 90 active cases or 6% of the total, and no new cases were reported on 12–14 and 16 May.[152]

In the week starting 18 May, there were five additional confirmed cases, bringing the total number of cases to 1,504 (1,154 confirmed and 350 probable), of which 27 were active since 23 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,456.[153] The four cases on 19 May were not new cases, but rather previous cases from mid-April in Uruguay that were delayed to avoid double-counting.[154]

In the week starting 25 May, there were no new cases, keeping the total at 1,504 (1,154 confirmed and 350 probable), and 25 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 1,481. The last hospitalised person was reported as discharged on 27 May, and only one active case remained in the country from 29 May.[155] A death from 24 May was reclassified on 28 May as being related to COVID-19, bringing the total death toll to 22; this death was linked to the St Margaret's rest home cluster, and the person had recovered from the virus before their death.[156]

June 2020

In the week starting 1 June, there have been no new cases, recoveries, and deaths, which remain at 1,504 total cases (1,154 confirmed and 350 probable), 1,481 recoveries, and 22 deaths, with one active case remaining.[157]

Responses and reactions

Central government responses

Two cruise ships—Celebrity Solstice and Azamara Journey—in Port Chalmers on 15 March

March 2020

On 14 March, ahead of the first anniversary of the Christchurch mosque shootings which resulted in the deaths of 51 people, a national remembrance service was cancelled out of concerns over the virus. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the decision was a pragmatic one, adding, "We're very saddened to cancel [it], but in remembering such a terrible tragedy, we shouldn't create the risk of further harm being done." An Auckland festival celebrating Pacific culture was also cancelled.[158] Ardern announced that, effective 01:00 on 16 March, all travellers arriving in or returning to New Zealand from outside of the country must self-isolate for 14 days. This applies to all travellers, even if they are New Zealand citizens, but excludes travel from the Pacific islands unless the traveller is symptomatic. In addition, restrictions were placed on travel to the Pacific islands from New Zealand, barring travel to the region by those showing signs of coronavirus symptoms, as well as close contacts of coronavirus patients. Cruise ships will be prohibited from docking in New Zealand until 30 June. Ardern described these as being among the "widest ranging and toughest border restrictions of any country in the world".[159][160][161]

On 16 March, Ardern called for a halt to public gatherings of more than 500 people and warned that the outbreak could lead to a recession greater than the 2008 global financial crisis.[162][163]

On 17 March, Health Minister David Clark announced that the Government would deport foreign tourists who flout self-quarantine restrictions.[164] That same day, Immigration New Zealand placed two foreign tourists into forced quarantine for defying Government requirements to self-quarantine for two weeks. The tourists were ordered to leave New Zealand following their quarantine.[165][166] Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced a $12.1 billion COVID-19 business package that included $8.7 billion for businesses and jobs, $2.8 billion for income support, $500 million for health, and $600 million for the aviation sector and to support supply chains (this did not include any support for Air New Zealand).[167][168][169]

On 18 March, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) urged all New Zealanders traveling overseas to return home.[170] In addition, Ardern announced that the New Zealand and Australian Governments would be cancelling Anzac Day services scheduled to be held at Gallipoli in Turkey in response to travel restrictions and the coronavirus outbreak.[171][172]

On 19 March, the Government required the cancellation of indoor gatherings of more than 100 people. This did not apply to workplaces, schools, supermarkets or public transport.[173][174] Ardern announced the closure of New Zealand's borders to all but New Zealand citizens and residents, with effect after 11:59 pm that night. Unlike the previous travel restrictions, this ban also includes Pacific Islanders. Returning New Zealanders are required to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry. The partners, legal guardians or any dependent children travelling with returning New Zealand can return but will need to self-isolate as well.[175][176] However, Samoan and Tongan citizens traveling to New Zealand for essential reasons, "essential health workers", and those seeking to enter the country for humanitarian reasons are exempt from the travel ban.[177]

On 21 March, Ardern introduced a country-wide alert level system to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, similar to the existing fire warning systems. There are four levels, with 1 being the least risk of infection and 4 the highest. The alert level was set to 2 and people over 70 years old and those with compromised immune systems were asked to stay at home.[178]

An Emergency Mobile Alert sent at 18:30 on 25 March 2020, informing of the imminent move to Alert Level 4.

On 22 March, Associate Health and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare announced that the Government would invest $56.4 million in funding to aid Māori communities and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes investing $30 million to directly support Māori health workers, $15 million to supporting to Whānau Ora commissioning agencies, and $10 million to support the community outreach.[179]

On 23 March, Ardern raised the alert level to three and announced the closure of all schools, beginning that day. She also announced that the alert level would rise to four at 11:59pm on 25 March, instituting a nationwide lockdown. All sports matches and events as well as non-essential services such as pools, bars, cafes, restaurants, playgrounds were required to close in 48 hours, while essential services such as supermarkets, petrol stations, and health services would remain open.[180][181][182]

On 24 March, the Government announced that Parliament would adjourn for five weeks beginning on 27 March.[183][184] Prior to its closure, Parliament passed three bills with cross-party support including:

  • the "Imprest Supply (Third for 2019/20) Bill", which invests $52 billion into emergency spending;[185][186]
  • the "COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill", which allows the Inland Revenue Department to remit interest on tax owing after 14 February; and[citation needed]
  • "COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill", which allows local authorities to meet remotely, the Government to take over schools, and prevents no-cause evictions and freezes rents for six months.[187]

That same day, the Finance Minister announced that the Government was negotiating with banks to ensure that nobody would lose their homes as a result of defaulting on mortgage payments during the pandemic.[188] The Ministry of Social Development's Work and Income NZ division, which deals with welfare payments, switched from face-to-face services to online and phone services, and implemented shift work at its contact and processing centres to facilitate physical distancing.[189]

On 25 March, the Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard announced that Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges would chair a cross-party committee called the Epidemic Response Committee to scrutinise the Government's response to COVID-19.[183] Two-thirds of members will be from the opposition National and ACT parties while the remaining third will come from the governing Labour, New Zealand First, and Green parties. Known members include New Zealand First deputy leader Fletcher Tabuteau, Greens Co-Leader Marama Davidson, and ACT Party leader David Seymour.[187][183][184]

On 26 March, Prime Minister Ardern announced that the Government would give $27 million to social service providers such as the Salvation Army and Women's Refuge to help the vulnerable cope with the lockdown.[190] Finance Minister Robertson also announced that the Government had paid $1.5 billion to more than 240,000 workers as part of its Wage Subsidy scheme in response to the pandemic.[191]

On 29 March the New Zealand Police launched a new online form on their website for people to report COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restriction breaches including isolation breaches and businesses operating illegally.[192][193]

On 31 March the Government extended the state of national emergency by seven days, which is separate from the four-week COVID-19 level-4 lockdown.[194] On 7 April, Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare extended the state of emergency by another seven days, until 14 April 2020.[195]

April 2020

On 8 April, Prime Minister Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced that the Government was introducing a NZ$87.7 million distance learning package including two education television channels hosted by Suzy Cato, one English and the other Māori, improved Internet access and devices, and educational materials including online resources for parents, handheld devices, and hard copy packs of material for different year levels.[196]

Discussions continue on the possibility of using mobile phone apps to trace contacts (and thus track potential virus spread) – as (for example) in Singapore.[197] (As of 2015 New Zealand had 111.1 mobile connections per 100 citizens,[198] as opposed to Singapore's 150.1.[199][200] Population density and geography also differ.)

On 8 April, New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced providing NZ$4 million worth of funds to help the government tackle the health, economic, and social impacts of the COVID-19. It also stated plans of providing NZ$1 million to the Tongan Ministry of Health to help it continue fighting the virus.[201]

On 14 April, the New Zealand Treasury released figures suggesting that the unemployment rate could be kept under 10% if the Government provided extra financial support to help society during the lockdown. Treasury also projected that the country could experience an unemployment rate of 13.5% if the country remains in lockdown for four weeks. Treasury also projected that the unemployment rate could rise between 17.5% and 26% (roughly 750,000) if the lockdown was extended beyond four weeks. Finance Minister Grant Robertson has vowed that the Government will keep the unemployment rate below 10%.[202][203] That same day, the Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare announced that the Government was extending New Zealand's national state of emergency for another seven days until 21 April.[204]

On 14 April, Prime Minister Ardern announced a NZ$130 million support package for tertiary students including increasing the student loan amount for course-related costs for full-time students to NZ$2,000 temporarily, continuing support payments for students unable to study online for up to eight weeks, and making sure that students whose studies have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic's eligibility for student loans and Fees Free study will not be affected.[205][206]

On 15 April, Prime Minister Ardern announced that all government ministers and public sector chief executives would take a 20 percent pay cut. Opposition Leader Simon Bridges has also confirmed that he will take a 20 percent pay cut.[207][208]

On 16 April, Prime Minister Ardern outlined the rules and guidelines for the Government's alert level 3. Key policies have included allowing people to swim and fish while banning boating; reopening early childhood; and schools up to Year 10 on a voluntary basis; easing work restrictions; allowing ten people to attend funerals, weddings, and tangi; and allowing food eateries to provide take away services.[109][209] In response, the New Zealand Principals' Federation has expressed concern that the Level 3 rules for schools would create confusion.[210][211]

On 20 April, Prime Minister Ardern extended New Zealand's Alert Level 4 by another week. Ardern justified the extension on the basis that New Zealand needed to "lock in the gains" made so far in the fight against the coronavirus. The Alert Level 4 will end at 11:59 pm on 27 April with the country entering into Alert Level 3 on 28 April for the duration of two weeks.[212][213] Ardern also announced that schools and early childhood centres can prepare to reopen on 29 April with 28 April being designated as a teachers' only day.[214]

On 23 April, Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi announced that the Government would be investing NZ$50 million into media relief package to support the New Zealand media. This package includes $20.5m to eliminate TV and Radio transmission fees for six months; $16.5m to reduce media organisations' contribution fees to New Zealand On Air for the 2020/21 financial year; $11.1 million in specific targeted assistance to companies; $1.3 million to purchase central government news media subscriptions; and $600,000 to completely cut Radio New Zealand's AM transmission fees for six months. Faafoi also confirmed that the proposed Radio New Zealand and TVNZ merger had been delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic's economic fallout.[215][216]

May 2020

On 6 May, ahead of the announcement on 11 May about when the country would move down to alert level 2, Ardern gave information on how the country would function at alert level 2, with several changes from the original outline in March. The new level 2 guidelines described "a safer version of normal", with the return of recreational activities and businesses with enforced physical distancing, hygiene and customer registration methods, and no more than 100 people per gathering.[217]

On 7 May, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson announced that professional sports would able to resume domestically under alert level 2 if the necessary public health measures were in place.[218][219]

On 11 May, it was announced that New Zealand would enter alert level 2 from 11:59 pm on 13 May, lifting lockdown restrictions while maintaining physical distancing in public and for private gatherings with more than ten people. Schools could reopen on Monday 18 May, while bars (defined as on-licence premises that primarily serve beverages) could reopen on 21 May. The decision of whether to increase the limit of a gathering without physical distancing from ten is set to be made on 25 May.[220][221]

On 13 May, the Government passed the COVID-19 Public Health Response Bill which gives police the power to enter homes without a warrant in order to enforce the alert level 2 lockdown. The Bill was opposed by the opposition National and ACT parties, and the Human Rights Commission.[222][223] In addition, Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare lifted the national state of emergency. Health Minister David Clark announced changes to the alert level 2 rating, allowing up to 50 people to attend funerals and tangihanga.[223]

On 20 May, the Health Ministry launched a contact tracing app called NZ COVID Tracer, which is available on App Store and Google Play. The app allows users to scan their QR codes at businesses, public buildings and other organisations to track where they have been for contract tracing purposes.[224] While it was formally launched on 20 May, some people were able to download it on App Store on 19 May.[225] During its initial launch, several users encountered difficulties with logging into the app or using it.[226]

On 25 May, Prime Minister Ardern raised the limits on social gatherings including religious services, weddings, and funerals to 100, which came into effect at 12pm on 29 May 2020. Previously, there had been a ten person limit on religious services and weddings, and a 50 person limit on funerals and tangihanga. Ardern also announced that Cabinet would consider a decision to move into alert level 1 on 8 June, with 22 June set as the tentative date for moving into alert level 1.[227][228][229] That same day, Finance Minister Grant Robertson introduced a new 12-week relief payment scheme for New Zealand citizens and residents, which comes into effect on 8 June. It will pay NZ$490 per week for those who lost full-time work and NZ$250 for part time workers including students.[230] [231]

On 29 May, Prime Minister Ardern announced that the Government would be giving the arts and culture sector a multi-million dollar boost in response to the economic impact of COVID-19. This includes NZ$25 million for Creative New Zealand, NZ$1.4m for the Antarctic Heritage Trust, NZ$11.364m to Heritage New Zealand, NZ$18m for the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, NZ$2 million for Te Papa's Hardship Fund, NZ$31.8m for Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision to preserve its audio and visual collection, NZ$2.03m for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and NZ$4 million for the $4m for the Waitangi National Trust Board.[232]

In May 2020, Grant Robertson announced NZ$265 million to minimize the impact of Covid-19 on sports industry. The government official said that the funding and revenue had drastically fallen for all sports organizations and that they were under “immense strain”. “We are providing the support needed to sports at all levels to remain viable, get stronger and adapt,” his post-budget statement said.[233]

June 2020

On 3 June, Prime Minister Ardern clarified that Alert level 1 would involve the elimination of social distancing restrictions on shops, restaurants, public transportation and public gatherings including religious services, funerals, weddings, and community sports events. However, event organisers would have to ensure contact tracing. Ardern also outlined the ten "golden rules" for Alert level 1:

  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • If you have cold or flu-like symptoms get tested.
  • Wash your hands, Wash your hands, Wash your hands.
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow and regularly disinfect shared surfaces.
  • If you are told by health authorities to self isolate you must do so immmediately.
  • If concerned about your wellbeing or you have underlying health conditions consult with your GP.
  • Keep track of where you've been and who you've seen so we can use that for contact tracing if needed.
  • Businesses should help with rule seven by displaying a QR code.
  • Stay vigilant
  • Be kind to others and yourself.[234][235]

That same day, the opposition National Party claimed that a leaked cabinet paper suggested that New Zealand could move into Alert level 1 straight away. The Government contended that the paper represented "one strand of decision making" and that any move into alert level 1 was "predicated upon having eliminated chains of transmission and there having been no new cases from community transmission for at least 28 days."[236]

Economic recovery planning

On 1 April the Government set up an Infrastructure Industry Reference Group to seek out 'shovel-ready' infrastructure projects to reduce the economic impact of COVID-19.[237] Local government responded with proposals over the following weeks.[238][239][240][241] Other groups, such as the construction industry,[242] Greenpeace,[243] and the Green Party also put forward their preferences.[244]

On 1 May, the New Zealand Parliament unanimously passed a NZ$23 billion omnibus tax support package. Its provisions include a NZ$3 billion tax relief package for businesses, NZ$25 million for further business support in 2021, a $NZ10 billion wage subsidy scheme, NZ$4.27 billion to support 160,000 small businesses, and NZ$1.3 billion for 8,900 medium-sized businesses.[245][246]

Public opinion of government response

An Utting Research poll conducted on 1–2 March found that 47% of respondents were satisfied with the government's overall response to the COVID-19 outbreak, with 34% unsatisfied and 19% unsure.[247] A subsequent poll conducted on 21–22 March, prior to the lockdown announcement, found that 62% of respondents were satisfied with the response.[248] However, 37% were not confident a large-scale outbreak could be prevented in New Zealand, with 26% confident and 36% unsure.[248]

A Newshub-Reid Research poll conducted from 8 to 16 May 2020 asked whether it was "the right call" to implement the March–April nationwide level 4 stay-at-home order. 91.6% responded "yes", 6% "no" and 2.5% "don't know".[249]

Date Polling organisation Sample size Satisfied Not satisfied Unsure Lead
16–20 May 2020 Colmar Brunton 1,003 92 7 2 85
20–21 April 2020 Colmar Brunton 601 87 8 5 79
3–5 April 2020 Colmar Brunton 601 84 9 6 75
21–22 March 2020 Utting Research/Stuff 3,133 62 22 16 40
1–2 March 2020 Utting Research/Stuff 1,900 47 37 16 10
8–12 February 2020 Colmar Brunton 1,004 62 25 12 37

Local and regional governmental responses

On 20 March, the Auckland Council closed all public libraries, swimming pools, and recreational centres, including the Auckland Art Gallery and the New Zealand Maritime Museum.[250][251]

On 21 March, several local body councils in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Lower Hutt and Porirua announced the closures of public facilities including swimming pools, libraries, recreation centres, community centres, art galleries, and museums.[252][253][254][255]

On 24 March, the Auckland Council announced they were closing their campgrounds and Environment Canterbury announced that they would also close New Zealand Motor Caravan Association camping grounds within 48 hours.[188]

Auckland Council announced on 14 April that it was applying for special project funding for a number of infrastructure projects that had been suspended due to lockdown.[256]

On 15 April, several Otago mayors including mayor of Dunedin Aaron Hawkins, Central Otago District mayor Tim Cadogan, Queenstown Lakes District mayor Jim Boult, Clutha District mayor Bryan Cadogan, Waitaki District mayor Gary Kircher and Otago Regional Council chair Marian Hobbs were donating part of their salaries to local charities to assist with coronavirus pandemic relief efforts. In addition, several Dunedin City Council officials including chief executive Sue Bidrose announced that they were taking pay cuts to help their local communities cope with the effects of COVID-19.[257]

Health sector responses

On 19 March, the medical recruitment company MedWorld appealed for retired and part-time doctors to assist efforts by the health sector and Government to combat the spread of COVID-19.[258][259]

Business-sector responses

Up until March 2020 New Zealand ran a mixed economy – a free market with some state ownership and control.[260] Although somewhat abruptly sidelined from their normal influence within the New Zealand economy, representatives of the business sector continued to feature in media reporting: lobbying against perceived discrepancies in various industries,[261] publicising habitual evaluations such as business-confidence indicators[262][263] and economic outlooks,[264] and itching for an early return to "business as usual".[265]

Airlines

On 16 March the national carrier Air New Zealand announced that it would be reducing its long-haul capacity by 85% and its personnel by 30% in response to declining demand and revenue as a result of the outbreak. In addition to the previously suspended flights to Shanghai and Seoul, the airline suspended flights to several major international cities including San Francisco, Houston, Buenos Aires, Vancouver, Tokyo, Honolulu, Denpasar, and Taipei between 30 March and 30 June as well as its London HeathrowLos Angeles service. The airline also reduced trans-Tasman capacity by 80%, and the domestic network capacity would be reduced in March and April 2020. It would maintain enough overseas flights for returning New Zealanders and evacuees as well as essential air freight.[266][267][268] On 20 March, the Government loaned Air New Zealand $900 million to protect essential air routes and to keep the company operating.[269][270]

On 19 March, it was reported that Qantas and Jetstar were suspending their New Zealand operations as part of their efforts to suspend international flights in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[271]

On 25 March, Air New Zealand's chief revenue officer announced the airline would cut back to just ten international and fifth-freedom routes from 30 March to 1 May: from Auckland to Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Rarotonga, Nadi, Niue, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, and from Norfolk Island to Sydney and Brisbane. The Auckland to Shanghai route would resume on 2 May.[272]

On 4 April, it became known that Virgin Australia had decided to shut down its New Zealand operation permanently, resulting in 600 jobs in New Zealand to be lost.[273]

On 7 April, it was reported that Air New Zealand was considering laying off 387 pilots as part of cutback measures. The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association (NZALPA), which represents 1520 Air New Zealand pilots, is currently in negotiations with the airline to reduce the number of layoffs.[274]

On 20 May, Air New Zealand announced that it would be laying off 3,500 personnel.[275] This includes 1,300 cabin crew. 950 long and mid-haul crew will lose their jobs while 300 workers will be made redundant in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. In addition, 97 jobs were lost at Air NZ's regional airlines Air Nelson and Mount Cook Airline.[276]

Cafes and restaurants

On 14 April, it was reported that three parent shareholding companies of the Burger King franchise in New Zealand had gone into receivership, with KordaMentha appointed as receiver. It was hoped that Burger King would start trading again post-lockdown as its operating company was not in receivership.[277]

Camping grounds

On 24 March, two local authorities and the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association announced that they were closing their camping grounds.[188]

Casinos

On 11 May, Skycity announced that it will be slashing 700 jobs as a result of the economic fallout of the pandemic. In April, the company had slashed 200 jobs.[278][279]

Construction sector

On 28 April 2020, it became known that steel company Steel & Tube would lose between 150 and 200 jobs in upcoming restructuring.[280]

On 20 May, building company Fletcher Building announced that they would be laying off at least 1,000 jobs in New Zealand and 500 jobs in Australia, amounting to ten percent of their workforce.[281][282]

Film industry

On 17 March, Jon Landau, the co-producer of the Avatar film sequels, announced that film production at the Wellington-based Stone Street Studios had been suspended in response to the pandemic.[283] However, visual effects will continue at Weta Digital in Wellington.[284] On 31 May, 50 Avatar crew including Hollywood director James Cameron were granted entry into New Zealand under a special visa category for border exemptions for foreigners deemed essential to a project of "significant economic value."[285]

Funeral services

Funeral directors have warned about a spike in violence as a result of people being unable to attend funerals for their loved ones during the Level 4 and Level 3 restrictions.[286]

Maritime sector

In early June, marine engineering company Airmex's managing director Steve Sullivan has warned that about 40 jobs maritime engineering jobs in Nelson are at risk due to the Government's policy of refusing entry to ships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Sullivan, 40% of the company's revenue came from the international refit business. National MP Nick Smith has also called on the Government to lift the blanket ban on foreign ships, citing the case of the American Samoa–registered tuna fishing vessel Captain Vincent Gann, which was denied entry by Immigration New Zealand and asked to seek urgent repairs in Hawaii.[287][288]

Media

On 30 March 2020 NZME, which owns The New Zealand Herald and radio station Newstalk ZB, announced the closure of Radio Sport with immediate effect, due to the impact of the coronavirus on sport.[289]

On 1 April, Mediaworks' Chief Executive Michael Anderson told staff to take a 15% wage cut in order to avoid redundancies.[290]

On 2 April, Bauer Media Group announced that it would wind up its New Zealand magazine titles in direct response to magazines having been stopped from being published under the Level 4 restrictions. This will put an end to many iconic titles, including Woman's Day, New Zealand Woman's Weekly, the New Zealand Listener, The Australian Women's Weekly, North & South, Next, Metro, Air New Zealand's inflight magazine Kia Ora, and Your Home & Garden, leaving about 200 former employees unemployed.[291][292][293][294]

On 14 April, NZME announced that they were laying off 15% of their workforce (roughly 200 jobs) as a result of the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus.[295][296]

On 16 April, Stuff Chief Executive Sinead Boucher asked staff earning more than NZ$50,000 to take a 15% pay cut while the executive team will take a 25% pay cut. Boucher herself will take a 40% pay cut.[297]

On 25 May, MediaWorks' CEO Michael Anderson announced that the company would be eliminating 130 jobs in its sales, out-of-home, and radio divisions as a result of the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.[298][299][300]

Retail sector

On 25 March 2020, The Warehouse Group prematurely announced that they were an "essential service" without consulting with the Government. When they were deemed not to be an essential service, the Warehouse shut down its brands including The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery, Torpedo7, Noel Leeming, 1-day and TheMarket for the duration of the four-week lockdown, with all staff being put on full paid leave. The company also faces a fine of $500,000 if it is found to have breached the New Zealand Exchange's disclosure rules with more penalties if the company is found to have profited from a rise in its share price resulting from the announcement.[301][302][303]

On 27 March, the national retail chain Mad Butcher was ordered to shut operations since it did not meet the Government's criteria of essential services. Mad-Butcher chief executive Michael Morton expressed frustration with a lack of clarity from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). The company is projected to lose $3 million in meat.[304]

On 10 April, hardware giant Mitre 10 announced that it would lay off staff at its Albany support centre in Auckland. While the company's Mitre 10 and Mitre 10 Mega stores are closed, customers can still order trade supplies for essential services online and by phone for contactless collection and home delivery.[305]

On 12 May, hardware and DIY chain Bunnings announced that it will close seven stores in Ashburton, Hornby, Hastings, Cambridge, Rangiora, Te Awamutu, and Putaruru with the loss of 145 jobs.[306][307]

On 25 May, it was reported that the department store chain H & J Smith was considering closing its stores in Dunedin, Mosgiel, Balclutha, Te Anau, and Gore as well as the Armoury Store in Dunedin and Outdoor World in Queenstown. The Take Note store in Gore would relocate but H & J Smith's stores in Invercargill and Queenstown would remain open. A final decision will be made in early June.[308][309][310] Dunedin and Clutha Mayors Aaron Hawkins and Bryan Cadogan have urged the company to reconsider their closure plans.[309][310]

Telecommunications providers

On 14 April, telco 2degrees announced that they were to cut the workforce by 10% (i.e. 120 staff), stop recruitment, and reduce spending on capital projects.[311]

Tourism sector

The imposition of border restrictions has had a major effect on the international tourism sector. For the month of February 2020, the number of international visitors arriving in New Zealand fell 11% compared to February 2019, mostly driven by a 90% drop in visitors from mainland China.[312] In March 2020, international visitor arrivals fell 54% compared to March 2019.[313]

On 8 April 2020 travel company Flight Centre announced that it would close 58 stores permanently. Flight Centre also announced that it was laying off 300 employees temporarily and 250 employees permanently.[314][315]

In early May, Stuff reported that thousands of migrant workers have been left unemployed in the tourist town of Queenstown with no money for food or rent. According to Queenstown-Lakes District mayor Jim Boult, 6,000 migrants had requested welfare assistance from local authorities.[316]

Civil society responses

Empty bread shelves at a supermarket in Wellington after panic buying
Empty bread shelves at a supermarket in Wellington after panic buying (22 March 2020)

Increased demand for face masks and hand sanitisers led to shortages nationwide in supermarkets and pharmacies.[317][318] Following the first New Zealand case of COVID-19 on 28 February, customers were reportedly panic-buying supplies at Auckland supermarkets.[319][320]

Following the implementation of stronger border controls, SANZAAR announced on 14 March that it would suspend play of its Super Rugby season (which features five New Zealand teams) following the conclusion of that weekend's matches.[321]

On 15 March it was announced that the Warbirds Over Wanaka 2020 airshow was cancelled due to the Government's response to the pandemic.[322] This was the first time in the biennial event's history that it had been cancelled.[citation needed]

On 19 March, the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association announced that all Anzac Day services, scheduled for 25 April, would be cancelled and the red poppy collection postponed due to the health risk. This was the first time that Anzac Day services have not been held since 1916.[323]

Māori responses

A Wellington iwi placed a taupāruru (restriction) on the practice of hongi, a traditional Māori greeting, in response to the outbreak.[324]

On 24 March, former Tai Tokerau Member of Parliament Hone Harawira announced that local iwi in the Far North were working with local authorities and Mayor of Far North John Carter to set up roadblocks to prevent foreign tourists from travelling into the area. Tourists in the area would be encouraged to leave the Far North. Roadblocks were set up at State Highway 1 at Whakapara and State Highway 12 at Waipoua. Harawira criticised the Government for not stopping tourists from entering the country prior to the border closure.[325] By 26 March, at least three groups of tourists had been stopped from entering the Far North. A testing centre was also set up at Waiomio Hill to test locals returning from overseas.[326]

Similar measures were put in place on the East Cape area of the North Island.[327] In April, there were reports that iwi checkpoints in the central North Island, East Coast, and Northland were obstructing essential travel by local residents. National Member of Parliament for Northland Matt King said that constituents had complained about being verbally abused and spat upon at iwi checkpoints in Northland.[328][329] In response, Police Minister Stuart Nash warned that the Police would take action against "illegal" checkpoints that had been set up without police support while allowing checkpoints in remote towns as long as they had the support of the local police and community.[328]

In early May 2020, Newshub reported that the iwi Te Whānau-ā-Apanui in the eastern Bay of Plenty region had been operating an unauthorised travel permit system to protect the region's elderly population, horticulture, and agricultural industries. This included a requirement for essential workers to provide a letter from the Ministry for Primary Industries proving that their travel complied with lockdown rules, which were eased when alert level 4 came to an end on 28 April. On 6 May, the New Zealand Police clarified that community road block operators in the Bay of Plenty did not have the authority to turn away New Zealanders lacking the necessary travel documents.[330][331]

Faith communities' responses

In mid-March, several faith communities and denominations including the Catholic Church, the Supreme Sikh Society, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and LIFE church announced that they would be cancelling or reducing large gatherings and taking more health precautions in response to the Government's ban on gatherings with more than 100 people. However, Bishop Brian Tamaki's Destiny Church initially refused to close their services, with Tamaki stating that they would not let a "filthy virus" scare them out of attending church.[332] In response, infectious diseases expert Dr Siouxsie Wiles criticised Bishop Tamaki for undermining efforts to keep New Zealanders safe.[333]

Smaller congregations like Elim Church and C3 Church in Marlborough have halved services in order to comply with the Government's ban on gatherings with more than 100 people while the Nativity Church has set up networks to support parishioners.[334]

On 20 March, the New Zealand Catholic Bishops' Conference declared that all public Masses would be suspended for the foreseeable future. This decision was made in line with the government's decision to cancel mass indoor events with more than 100 people.[335]

On 29 March, it was reported that members of the exclusive Gloriavale Christian Community were not complying with lockdown measures and that daycare centres, schools, and meetings were still ongoing. The Police have since announced that they are working with Gloriavale to make sure that its members abided with lockdown restrictions.[336]

In late March 2020, there were reports that members of the Muslim community in New Zealand were having trouble accessing halal food due to the closure of butcheries, which were not deemed an "essential service" under Alert level 4.[337][338][339]

Under the Government's alert level 2 restrictions which came into force on 14 May, religious gatherings have been limited to ten persons despite the Government stating that they could have a 100 person limit. The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) issued a press release that New Zealand Muslims would be unable to hold their Eid prayers at mosques and community centers due to the ten person limit on private gatherings.[340] The Catholic bishops of New Zealand have expressed disappointment with the ten-person limit, describing the measures as too restrictive.[341] Meanwhile, Bishop Tamaki of Destiny Church has announced that his movement would be holding services in defiance of level two lockdown restrictions.[342][343] The New Zealand Muslim Association President Ikhlaq Kashkari has expressed disappointment that the ten person limit will prevent mosques from gathering for Ramadan. The Minister of Commoners Weslyan Methodist Community Reverend Frank Ritchie has also criticised the perceived double standard towards faith communities.[344]

On 25 May, the Government raised the limit on religious services from ten to 100 persons, allowing many faith communities to resume mass gatherings.[227][228][229]

Mass gatherings and protests

Black Lives Matter protests

On 1 June, Black Lives Matter (BLM) solidarity protests were held in several major centres including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Tauranga, Palmerston North and Hamilton in response to the death of George Floyd, which had sparked a wave of protests and riots in the United States and around the world. 4,000 people attended the Auckland rally alone, which saw participants marching from Aotea Square down Queen Street to the American Consulate General. In Wellington, hundreds gathered outside Parliament. According to media reports, there was little social distancing due to the large volume of participants.[345][346][347][348][349]

Microbiologist and health adviser Dr. Siouxsie Wiles, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, and ACT Party leader David Seymour have criticized march participants for flouting Level 2 lockdown restrictions. Dr Wiles called for people who attended the BLM marches and gatherings to self-isolate for 14 days. Peters and Seymour criticised participants for violating Alert Level 2 lockdown restrictions and undermining efforts to eliminate COVID-19, while calling on the Government to move towards Alert Level 1.[350][351] Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has criticised protesters for violating Level 2 restrictions in the midst of a global pandemic, while expressing sympathy for George Floyd.[352][353] Police Minister Stuart Nash also indicated that New Zealand Police are not seeking to prosecute protesters while expressing disappointment that social distancing rules had been flouted.[354] Opposition Leader Todd Muller has criticised the Government for sending mixed messages about COVID-19 alert levels, alleging that they caused the public to become complacent about social distancing, citing the BLM rallies as an example.[355]

In response, Christchurch BLM protest organiser Will Hunter defended his decision to hold the rally, which attracted 700 people. He also that he and his fellow organisers had urged participants to take health precautions including wearing gloves, masks, social distancing and staying at home if sick.[356]

Education sector's responses

On 17 March, Logan Park High School in Dunedin closed for 48 hours after one of its students tested positive for the coronavirus.[41][44] That same day, the University of Canterbury became the first university in New Zealand to recall its exchange students from overseas, stating that "Given the rapidly escalating global situation and the increasing amount of travel restrictions worldwide, and intensive consultation with our partners, [we have] made the very difficult decision to suspend our exchange programmes and recall all UC outbound exchange students, effective immediately."[357]

On 20 March, Massey University stopped face-to-face teaching of courses that could be taught by distance.[358] The University of Auckland suspended classes for the week of 23–27 March to allow staff to prepare for remote teaching in the event of a partial campus closure.[359][358] The University of Otago in Dunedin has also shifted classes with more than 100 students online in a bid.[clarification needed][360]

On 21 March, Auckland University of Technology announced that it would be suspending teaching in response to a petition from students.[361] The University of Canterbury also announced they could move to online learning.[362]

On 23 March, several schools in Auckland including Marist College, Randwick Park School and Glendowie College closed after several teachers and parents tested positive for the coronavirus.[363][364] That same day, the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand called on the Government to shut down all schools immediately.[365] In response to a spike of cases and the upgrading of New Zealand's coronavirus alert level to Level 3, the Government closed down all schools and early childhood centres. Universities were also expected to follow suit.[366]

On 13 May, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced that the end-of-year high school National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) external exams would be postponed from 6 November to 16 November 2020.[223]

Animal welfare

On 31 March 2020, NZ Pork CEO David Baines warned that the Government's decision to classify butcheries as non-essential services would have serious implications for the welfare pigs on New Zealand farms. Due to a surplus in pigs, many farms lacked sufficient space to store pigs.[367][368]

On 15 April, Stuff reported that many pets included cats and dogs were stuck in transit at pet shipping companies and animal homes due to the disruption of travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown in New Zealand. Due to lockdown restrictions, the transportation of pets is not deemed an essential service. Air New Zealand has announced that it would consider reopening its pet transportation service when Level 4 lockdown restrictions were lifted.[369]

Court rulings

On 4 May, a High Court judge allowed a man who had travelled from the United Kingdom to visit his dying father, overruling the Government's strict lockdown orders including a 14-day quarantine period for all overseas travellers. In response, Prime Minister Ardern asked Health Minister David Clark to review 24 cases where health authorities blocked requests by individuals to see their dying relatives on health grounds.[370][371] As a result of the Government's review, a woman was granted exemption from the mandatory 14 day quarantine to visit her 59 year old terminally ill mother.[372]

Statistics

Cases

As of 22 May 2020, New Zealand has 1,504 cases (1,154 confirmed and 350 probable cases) of COVID-19.[1] Based on the national population estimate of 4,966,000[373] this gives the country 232.4 confirmed cases per million population (302.9 confirmed and probable cases per million population).

Broken down by district health board (DHB) as of 29 May 2020:[1]

DHB Cases Reporting date[374][d]
Total Deaths Recoveries Active First case Latest case
Auckland 178 177 1 26 February 2020 5 May 2020
Bay of Plenty 47 47 0 21 March 2020 19 April 2020
Canterbury 164 12 152 0 17 March 2020 15 May 2020
Capital and Coast 95 2 93 0 14 March 2020 20 April 2020
Counties Manukau 132 132 0 4 March 2020 3 May 2020
Hawke's Bay 44 44 0 19 March 2020 27 April 2020
Hutt Valley 20 20 0 19 March 2020 5 April 2020
Lakes 16 16 0 17 March 2020 17 April 2020
MidCentral 32 32 0 19 March 2020 9 May 2020
Nelson Marlborough 49 48 0 20 March 2020 29 April 2020
Northland 28 28 0 17 March 2020 16 April 2020
South Canterbury 17 17 0 23 March 2020 25 April 2020
Southern 216 2 214 0 13 March 2020 17 April 2020
Tairāwhiti 4 4 0 26 March 2020 14 April 2020
Taranaki 16 16 0 16 March 2020 26 April 2020
Waikato 188 1 187 0 16 March 2020 10 May 2020
Wairarapa 8 8 0 19 March 2020 2 April 2020
Waitematā 236 4 232 0 2 March 2020 14 May 2020
West Coast 5 1 4 0 22 March 2020 5 April 2020
Whanganui 9 9 0 27 March 2020 19 April 2020
New Zealand 1,504 22 1,481 1

No cases have been reported in the Chatham Islands[375] or on Stewart Island[citation needed]. Additionally, no cases have been reported in New Zealand's associated states (Cook Islands, Niue) or in the dependent territory of Tokelau.[376]

Clusters

As of 3 June 2020 the Ministry of Health had identified 16 significant clusters of at least ten confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases. Nine clusters are active:[377]

Oyster Cove, the venue of the Bluff wedding at Stirling Point
Rosewood Rest Home in Christchurch, the cluster with the greatest number of deaths

The following clusters have been closed. A cluster is considered closed when there have been no new cases for two incubation periods (i.e. 28 days) from the date when all cases complete isolation.

  • Private function, Auckland – 40
  • George Manning Lifecare rest home, Christchurch – 19
  • Group travel to the United States, Wellington – 16
  • Group travel to the United States, Auckland – 16
  • Community group, Christchurch – 14
  • Wedding, Wellington – 13
  • Rest home, Auckland – 13

All 12 of the Canterbury DHB deaths were cases within the Rosewood Rest Home cluster. This cluster accounts for more than half of the country's total death toll from COVID-19.

Progression of COVID-19

Progression of COVID-19 cases in New Zealand:[378]

                    Cases        Recovered        Hospitalised        Deaths        Active Cases[e]

The same graph in semi-log plot form:

                    Cases        Recovered        Hospitalised        Deaths        Active Cases

New cases and fatalities

New COVID-19 cases in New Zealand (confirmed and probable) in red, and fatalities in black:[378]

Alert level system

On 21 March, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the introduction of a country-wide alert level system, similar to the existing fire warning systems. There are four levels, with 1 being the least risk of infection and 4 the highest. At the time of the announcement, New Zealand was at level 2. Each level brings added restrictions on activities or movements. Each region can have an individual alert level based on the severity of their own infections, and these levels can be changed at any time.[379][178]

At the time of Ardern's announcement, New Zealand was at alert level 2.[380] Ardern announced on 23 March that, effective immediately, New Zealand would be at alert level 3, moving to level 4 at 11:59 pm on 25 March.[381] On 20 April, Ardern announced that New Zealand would move to alert level 3 at 11:59 pm on 27 April, with businesses and schools being allowed to have employees enter the premises during the last week of alert level 4 to prepare the facility for the transition to alert level 3.[119] The country remained at alert level 3 for at least two weeks, with the decision of whether to move down to level 2 made on 11 May.[120] On 11 May, it was announced that New Zealand would enter alert level 2 from 11:59 pm on 13 May, lifting lockdown restrictions while maintaining physical distancing in public and for private gatherings with more than ten people.[220]

Alert levels are cumulative – each level includes the restrictions of the level below it. The levels are as follows:[382]

  • Level 1 – Prepare: COVID-19 is uncontrolled overseas. The disease is contained in New Zealand, but isolated household transmission could be occurring.
    • Border entry measures to minimise risk of importing COVID-19 cases.
    • Intensive testing for COVID-19.
    • Rapid contact tracing of any positive case.
    • Mandatory self-isolation or quarantine may be applied.
    • Schools and workplaces open, and must operate safely.
    • Physical distancing encouraged.
    • No restrictions on gatherings.
    • Stay home if you are sick, report flu-like symptoms.
    • Wash and dry hands, cough into elbow, do not touch your face.
    • No restrictions on domestic transport – avoid public transport or travel if sick.
  • Level 2 – Reduce: The disease is contained, but the risk of community transmission remains. Household transmission could be occurring, and there are single or isolated cluster outbreaks.
    • People can connect with friends and family, go shopping, or travel domestically, but should follow public health guidance.
    • Physical distancing of two metres from people you do not know when out in public is recommended, with one metre physical distancing in controlled environments like workplaces unless other measures are in place.
    • No more than 100 people at indoor or outdoor gatherings (subject to any lower limit, e.g. fire regulations).
    • Sport and recreation activities are allowed, subject to conditions on gatherings, contact tracing, and – where practical – physical distancing.
    • Public venues can open but must comply with public health measures.
    • Health and disability care services operate as normally as possible.
    • Businesses can open to the public, but must follow public health guidance including in relation to physical distancing and contact tracing. Alternative ways of working encouraged where possible (e.g. remote working, shift-based working, physical distancing, staggering meal breaks, flexible leave).
    • Schools, early childhood education and tertiary education providers can open with appropriate public health measures in place.
    • People at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (e.g. those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well controlled, and seniors) are encouraged to take additional precautions when leaving home. They may work, if they agree with their employer that they can do so safely.
  • Level 3 – Restrict: There is a high risk the disease is not contained. Community transmission might be happening. New clusters may emerge but can be controlled through testing and contact tracing.
    • People instructed to stay home in their bubble other than for essential personal movement – including to go to work, school if they have to or for local recreation.
    • Physical distancing of two metres outside home (including on public transport), or one metre In controlled environments like schools and workplaces.
    • People must stay within their immediate household bubble, but can expand this to reconnect with close family / whānau, or bring in caregivers, or support isolated people. This extended bubble should remain exclusive.
    • Schools (years 1 to 10) and Early Childhood Education centres can safely open, but will have limited capacity. Children should learn at home if possible.
    • People must work from home unless that is not possible.
    • Businesses can open premises, but cannot physically interact with customers.
    • Low risk local recreation activities are allowed.
    • Public venues are closed (e.g. libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds, markets).
    • Gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed but only for wedding services, funerals and tangihanga. Physical distancing and public health measures must be maintained.
    • Healthcare services use virtual, non-contact consultations where possible.
    • Inter-regional travel is highly limited (e.g. for essential workers, with limited exemptions for others).
    • People at high risk of severe illness (older people and those with existing medical conditions) are encouraged to stay at home where possible, and take additional precautions when leaving home. They may choose to work.
  • Level 4 – Eliminate: It is likely the disease is not contained. Community transmission is occurring, and there are widespread outbreaks and new clusters.
    • People instructed to stay at home (in their bubble) other than for essential personal movement.
    • Safe recreational activity is allowed in local area.
    • Travel is severely limited.
    • All gatherings cancelled and all public venues closed.
    • Businesses closed except for essential services (e.g. supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics, petrol stations) and lifeline utilities.
    • Educational facilities closed.
    • Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities possible.
    • Reprioritisation of healthcare services.

Essential services

Supermarket staff behind protective screens and wearing gloves on 31 March 2020

The "essential services" referenced in alert level 4 include:[383][384][385]

  • Accommodation
    • Any entity that provides accommodation services for essential workers, isolation/quarantine, and emergency housing
    • Retirement villages
  • Border
  • Building and construction
    • Any entity involved in building and construction related to essential services and critical infrastructure, including those in the supply and support chain
    • Any entity involved in any work required to address immediate health or life safety risks, or to prevent serious environmental harm, and relevant essential supply chain elements
    • Any entity with statutory responsibilities or that is involved in building and resource consenting necessary for the above purposes
  • Courts, tribunals and the justice system
  • Education
    • Any entity or individual determined by the Secretary for Education as required to provide distance or online learning (e.g. printers, devices, IT)
  • Fast-moving community goods
    • Any entity involved in the supply, delivery, distribution and sale of food, beverage and other key consumer goods essential for maintaining the wellbeing of people
  • Financial services
    • Any entity that operates consumer and business financial services, financial services infrastructure (including banking services), a stock exchange, broking services, payment and settlement systems, funds management (including KiwiSaver), insurance services, financial advice, and support services such as administrators, supervisors and custodians
  • Health
    • District health boards (and all of their facilities), Pharmac, New Zealand Blood Service, Health Promotion Agency, Health Quality and Safety Commission
    • Any person employed or contracted as a doctor, nurse, midwife, pharmacist, paramedic, medical laboratory scientists, kaiāwhina workers, social workers, aged-care and community workers, and caregivers more generally
    • Hospitals, primary care clinics, pharmacies, medical laboratories, care facilities (e.g. rest homes)
    • Emergency dental and optometry care services
    • Any entity providing ambulance services
    • Any entity involved with the deceased/tūpāpaku (e.g. funeral homes, crematoria, cemeteries)
    • Any entity producing health sector equipment, medicines and personal protective equipment
  • Local and national government
    • Any entity involved in COVID-19 response, enforcement, planning or logistics or that has civil-defence/emergency management functions (including any entity that supplies services for these purposes)
    • Key public services
  • Foreign government
    • Maintaining critical operations at foreign missions based in New Zealand.
  • Primary industries, including food and beverage production and processing
    • Any entity involved in the packaging, production and processing of food and beverage products, whether for domestic consumption or export
    • Any entity involved in relevant support services, such as food safety and verification, inspection or associated laboratory services, food safety and biosecurity functions
    • Any entity providing veterinary services
    • Any entity whose closure would jeopardise the maintenance of animal health or welfare standards (including the short-term survival of a species)
  • Public safety and national security
  • Science
    • ESR, GNS Science, GeoNet, NIWA, MetService
    • Any entity (including research organisations) involved in COVID-19 response
    • Any entity (including research organisations) involved in hazard monitoring and resilience
    • Any entity (including research organisations) involved in diagnostics for essential services like biosecurity, public health
    • Laboratories and Physical Containment level 3 (PC3) facilities that could provide essential services and products that could be used to respond to COVID-19
    • Other significant research facilities including animal facilities, clinical trials and infrastructure that require constant attention (e.g. samples, collections and storage facilities) that are important to New Zealand
  • Social services
  • Transport and logistics
    • Ministry of Transport, New Zealand Customs Service, NZ Transport Agency, Civil Aviation Authority (including Aviation Security Service), Maritime New Zealand (including the Rescue Coordination Centre), Airways NZ, MetService, KiwiRail (including Interislander), and any entity that is contracted by these entities
    • Any entity that provides, or is contracted to an entity that provides, logistics services, including New Zealand Post and courier services
    • Any entity providing, or is contracted by an entity that provides, transport services to the Ministry of Health, a District Health Board, a Medical Officer of Health, or a Controller (as defined in section 4 of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002)
    • Any entity that provides services related to the maintenance and ongoing operation of critical infrastructure (e.g. roads, rail, ports, airports)
    • Any entity that operates or is contracted by a lifeline utility, an aerodrome, a passenger and/or freight aviation service, a passenger and/or freight shipping service, a road freight service, a rail freight service, a vehicle recovery service; or a public transport service (under contract with a Regional Council)
    • Any small passenger-service vehicle driver (who holds the relevant licence) such as ride-share or taxi drivers
    • Any entity providing services to keep vehicles operational for essential work purposes (e.g. vehicle testing, mechanics, tyre services)
  • Utilities and communications, including supply chains
    • Any entity involved in the production, supply, sale distribution or disposal of electricity, gas, water, waste water (e.g. sanitation), waste (e.g. rubbish collection and recycling), liquid and solid fuel, telecommunication services, and any entity that is contracted by these entities
    • The delivery of solid fuels (including firewood, pellets and coal) for immediate needs (e.g. home heating) or fulfilling existing orders, is an essential service.
    • News (including news production) and broadcast media
    • Internet service providers
    • Any entity that provides maintenance and repair services for utilities and communications, including supply chains
    • Any entity supplying services to an essential workplace that are required for the safe operation of that workplace (e.g. cleaning, security services)
    • Commercial cleaners that clean common areas of apartment buildings may continue to operate where there is high traffic (e.g. lifts, stairwells)
  • Additional decisions and exemptions
    • All supermarkets and dairies are considered an essential service. A supermarket's primary focus is selling food products, and is a retail store operating on a self-service basis, selling groceries, fresh produce, meat, bakery and dairy products, and sometimes an assortment of non-food goods. Dairies must operate a "one-in-one-out" rule, and cannot sell cooked food.
    • Essential consumer products other than food (e.g. blankets, heaters, kitchenware and appliances, whiteware, computer equipment and mobile phones) may be sold subject to conditions. If a business cannot meet these conditions, it must not offer goods for sale.
    • Food delivery other than cooked prepared meals such as takeaways is allowed (e.g. supermarket home delivery, food parcels from charitable organisations, subscription food boxes, or any other whole-food delivery service). Meals-on-Wheels may continue to deliver prepared food. Ordering, payment and delivery must be contactless and the business must operate safely within the general health guidelines such as physical separation and hygiene.
    • Locksmiths can undertake essential work on emergency call-outs and essential activity to maintain the security of premises/personal properties.
    • Turf maintenance is not considered an essential service and should not be undertaken at this time.
    • Pet care services are not considered to be essential, except where necessary to maintain existing boarding of animals in pet care, or for long-term care when no other alternatives are available.
    • Vehicle washing services must only be undertaken when supporting essential services to ensure they are complying with the necessary health and safety requirements (e.g. washing off contaminated or biohazard materials).
    • Road safety equipment for road construction should only be used only where maintenance is essential.
    • Farmers markets are not considered to be an essential service, as alternatives are available
    • Liquor stores must close to the public unless they are within monopoly Licensing Trust areas (i.e. West Auckland, Gore and Invercargill), in which case they can operate with a one-in-one-out rule.
    • Pest management may be undertaken only where required for human health and safety, and it is essential. However, operators must ensure people have somewhere safe to go while the process is underway, in particular where a property is being vacated
    • Campgrounds and backpacker accommodation providers may continue to operate under very strict protocols and management of access. (e.g. contact to be maintained only with people staying in the same abode/room; common social and recreation areas to be closed; split shift access to common areas)
    • Butchers, bakeries and similar small-scale food retailers are considered non-essential, as similar products are readily available in supermarkets.
    • Natural health services are considered non-essential.
    • Security is considered an essential service, even if security services are being provided in relation to a premise for a non-essential service.
    • Self-storage facilities can operate only to facilitate access for essentials. New sales or expiries of units are considered non-essential. Access to existing lockers is permitted for essential items or services only, e.g. fridges
    • Critical support services to ensure businesses and workers can continue working from home are considered to be essential. This includes functions such as IT and Payroll.
    • Every restaurant, café and bar must close all aspects of their operation.
    • Self-service laundries can stay open, with 2-metre physical distancing to be enforced.
    • Bunnings, Placemakers, Mitre 10 and other retailers essential to the supply chain for building and construction can stay open to trade customers for essential purposes only.
    • The Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter is exempt from closure, due to the long and complicated process of closing and restarting the potlines.[386]
    • New Zealand Steel is to shut down in a way that allows for production to recommence easily.
    • Pulp and paper plants (e.g. Tasman, Kinleith) are to shut down their non-essential elements in a way that allows for production to recommence easily, and while maintaining essential production.
    • Methanex can remain in production, but at a scale consistent with the stability of gas supply.

Lockdown violations

Since New Zealand entered into a Level 4 alert lockdown on 25 March 2020, there have been several reports of people violating lockdown rules by congregating in crowds. On 1 April, Ardern described 20–29 year olds as the most vulnerable demographic to COVID-19 and called on them to comply with lockdown requirements.[387][388]

On 2 April, there were reports of beachgoers congregating in Auckland's Herne Bay, and Dunedin. Police have visited beachgoers, warning them to comply with the lockdown, while health authorities have warned about the risk of spreading the coronavirus and prolonging the lockdown.[389] In Otago, there have been reports of people jumping off the Albert Town Bridge near Wanaka.[clarification needed][390] In Auckland, Tongan ethnic community leaders have also warned that kava clubs are still meeting despite the lockdown, with some participants posting photos and videos on social media.[391] In Kaitaia, there have been reports of locals taking matters into their own hands by establishing checkpoints to enforce the lockdown.[392]

In early April, Health Minister David Clark was criticised for flouting official guidelines against non-essential travel after he drove to a Dunedin park two kilometres away from his home to ride a mountain bike trail. Clark later apologised to Prime Minister Ardern for not setting a good example to the public.[393][394][395] Later, Clark admitted that he had driven his family twenty kilometres to a nearby beach in Dunedin for a walk during the first week in lockdown. Clark offered his resignation to Prime Minister Ardern, who turned it down due to his role in leading the Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, she stripped Clark of his ministerial portfolio as Associate Finance Minister and demoted him to the bottom of Labour's Cabinet list.[396]

In early April, a Christchurch man was arrested by police after posting a Facebook video of himself deliberately coughing and sneezing on customers at a FreshChoice supermarket. Ardern warned that people would be arrested for deliberately coughing on others.[397][398] The man pleaded guilty to a charge of offensive behaviour in the Christchurch District Court. He received a negative test for COVID-19. The man later apologised for his actions.[399][400]

On 7 April, it was reported that the New Zealand Police had recorded 291 breaches under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 and the Health Act 1956. Of these, 263 people had been issued with warnings for breaking lockdown rules, 12 had received a youth referral, and 16 were facing charges. Clark, who was disciplined by the prime minister for violating lockdown requirements, was not listed among the 291 breaches reported.[401][402] On 8 April, the Police Commissioner Andrew Coster updated the figures to 367 breaches including 45 prosecutions, 309 warnings, and 13 youth referrals. Coster also reported that Police were dealing with 37,000 breaches, mainly by businesses.[403]

On 21 April, a Queenstown man was sentenced to a concurrent sentence of one month imprisonment and two weeks' imprisonment for breaching lockdown restrictions and damaging a stainless steel toilet.[404] In Auckland, a 32-year-old woman who allegedly spat at Auckland Transport staff on a train was charged with assault under the Crimes Act 1961. Auckland Transport has reported of incidents of stopping people trying to travel from outlying suburbs like Henderson and Takanini to shop in the city centre and groups of young people travelling on trains for non-essential reasons.[405]

On 3 May, it was reported that Police had received 1,200 reports of people breaching alert level 3 restrictions. 686 of these reports were filed between 6 pm on 1 May and 6pm on 2 May. Police confirmed that they had taken enforcement action against 514 people for breaches of either the Health Act or the Civil Defence Emergency Act since alert level 3 came into force on midnight 28 April, prosecuting 135 and warning 342.[406] Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Scott Fraser also announced that they had to close down hundreds of parties in the past few days since the alert level 3 lockdown came into force. He warned that illegal public gatherings would "waste all the sacrifices" others had to make to beat COVID-19.[407]

On 18 May, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster confirmed that the Police had received 250 reports of illegal mass gatherings in the four days since Alert level 2 came into effect on 14 May. These included 30 reports of people holding or attending illegal parties; 29 of which resulted in a warning and one in a prosecution.[408]

Testing

Requirements

In early March 2020, there were concerns about COVID-19 tests being given only to people with symptoms who had returned from impacted countries or people who had been in contact with a confirmed case.[409] Some people with symptoms but who did not fit these categories were not tested.[410]

The case definition for qualifying for a COVID-19 test is having "any acute respiratory infection with at least one of the following symptoms: cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, coryza, [or] anosmia with or without fever."[411]

The previous case definition for testing from 14 March to 3 April was meeting at least one of the following criteria:[412]

  • symptoms (fever or cough or shortness of breath or sore throat) and travel history
  • symptoms (fever or cough or shortness of breath or sore throat) and close or causal contact with a suspect, probable or confirmed case
  • healthcare workers with pneumonia
  • people treated in intensive care units for severe respiratory illnesses

For cases not fitting this case definition doctors are encouraged to use their own judgement whether to test the patient or not.[413]

Results

As of 10 May 2020, there have been 194,191 tests completed in total,[1] with a positivity rate of 0.59%. As of 30 April 2020, the ethnic group with the highest rate of testing is Pasifika, with 2.9% of the Pasifika population being tested, followed by Māori with 2.4%, "European or Other or MELAA" with 2.3%, and finally Asian with 1.4%.[373][c]

Since 16 April, random voluntary community testing has taken place in select supermarkets around the country to provide information on whether there still exists community transmission of the virus.[414][415] This testing has resulted in no positive results out of 1000 people tested as of 20 April 2020.[121][needs update]

Repatriation flights

New Zealand citizens and residents

In early February 2020, the New Zealand Government used a chartered Air New Zealand flight to evacuate 193 passengers from Wuhan, China, including 54 New Zealand citizens, 44 permanent residents, 35 Australians, and several Pacific Islands nationals. 35 Australian passengers were transferred to an Australian flight, while the remaining 157 passengers were quarantined in a military facility at Whangaparaoa for 14 days. The passengers were subsequently released on 19 February.[22][23]

On 17 March, Newshub reported that the Australian Border Force had suspended the repatriation of New Zealand deportees between 16 and 30 March 2020 as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.[416]

On 19 March, Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced that the New Zealand Government was considering more mercy flights to evacuate New Zealanders stranded overseas in response to the spread of the pandemic to Europe, North America and other international locations.[417][418] On 24 March, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged New Zealanders abroad to return home with while recognising that many will not be able to return home due to the disruption of international travel. Foreign Minister Peters has urged New Zealanders stranded overseas to considering sheltering "in place." Peters estimated there were 80,000 New Zealanders stranded overseas; of whom 17,000 have registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's "Safe Travel" programme.[419]

On 28 March, it was reported that about 24 New Zealanders were stranded in Peru because they could not board a chartered Australian flight due to changes in Australian transit rules requiring overseas travellers to transit on the same day as their arrival.[420][421]

On 29 March, 108 New Zealanders were allowed to disembark from the cruiser liner Vasco Da Gama, which had been berthed at Fremantle, Western Australia for two weeks. Following the cancellation of the cruise, the passengers had been stranded aboard the cruise ship for two weeks. The passengers were repatriated to Auckland via an Air New Zealand flight.[422]

On 30 March, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced, following negotiations with Prime Minister Ardern, that New Zealanders in Australia, who held a Special Category Visa, would be eligible for AU$1,500 fortnightly payments as hardship assistance. Many New Zealanders had been forced to return after being unable to access Australian Centrelink payments.[423]

On 6 April 2020, Foreign Minister Peters announced that the Government has organised a mercy flight to rescue New Zealanders stranded in Peru. The flight will depart from Lima, with an added domestic connection in Cusco. Private tour operators Viva Expeditions and Chimu Adventures will also help transport New Zealanders to the appropriate pickup points. New Zealand authorities have also managed to gain permission from Chilean authorities to transit through Santiago. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, there are 22,000 New Zealanders stranded overseas who have registered with MFAT's Safe Travel.[424][425]

On 10 April, the Uruguay government announced that it would be repatriating 16 New Zealanders and 96 Australians who had been stranded aboard the cruise ship Greg Mortimer in the La Plata river near Montevideo since 27 March. The passengers will be flown from Montevideo to Melbourne.[426][427] On 12 April, the mercy flight carrying 16 New Zealanders landed in Melbourne. Thirteen of the New Zealanders boarded a New Zealand Government-chartered flight to Auckland while three New Zealanders, who were resident in Australia, stayed behind.[428]

On 15 April, a Government chartered LATAM Airlines flight carrying New Zealanders stranded in Peru arrived back in Auckland. Other passengers who had been scattered in Brazil and Chile were able to board when the flight transited through Santiago. Passengers will be quarantined in Auckland per new quarantine requirements.[429][430] The mercy flight carried 60 Australians and three New Zealanders. One New Zealand woman elected to stay behind with her Peruvian husband after he failed to meet Immigration New Zealand's partnership visa requirements.[431] On 21 April, it was reported that a 49-year-old man, who was meant to be on the Peruvian mercy flight, had died in Cusco from the coronavirus; making him the first recorded New Zealand to have died overseas from COVID-19.[124]

On 15 April, it was announced that Fiji Airways would be flying stranded New Zealanders to Auckland on Friday. The return flight would then leave the same day, carrying Fijians returning to Nadi.[430]

On 13 April, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters announced that the New Zealand Government was in discussions with airlines and international partners to bring New Zealanders stranded in India back to New Zealand.[432] On 21 April, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced that the Government was repatriating 1,600 New Zealanders from India to managed isolation in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.[433]

Foreign travellers and temporary visa holders

On 24 March, the New Zealand Government automatically extended all temporary visas until late September 2020. Travellers whose visas expire before 1 April are allowed to remain if they are unable to leave the country.[419] On 25 March 2020, the British and German governments announced that they will be sending mercy flights to repatriate stranded citizens in New Zealand, many of whom are tourists. The German government has made arrangements for sending mercy flights to Auckland and Christchurch. The British Government has made arrangements for British nationals to transit through Singapore during their return from New Zealand.[434] There have been reports of British travellers being charged high airfares by airlines. The British High Commission and consular services in Wellington have been criticised for closing their operations the previous week.[435][436]

On 31 March, Malaysian Deputy Foreign Minister Kamaruddin Jaffar stated that 153 Malaysians with return tickets were stranded in New Zealand but unable to return to Malaysia due to travel restrictions and disruption caused by the pandemic.[437]

In early April, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, following communications with foreign governments including Denmark,[438] announced that foreign nationals returning home would be classified as engaging in essential travel able to travel domestically (whether by air or land) when they have a confirmed and scheduled international flight out of New Zealand, subject to Government requirements. In addition, foreign governments would be allowed to evacuate their citizens in charter flights provided they satisfied New Zealand health requirements. To improve travel between New Zealand and Europe, the Government has also approved a second daily flight between Doha to Auckland by Qatar Airways.[439][440]

As of 10 April, German airliner Lufthansa has flown 16 repatriation flights from Auckland International Airport to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, evacuating 6,700 passengers.[441] On 14 April, it was reported that Qatar Airways would be flying a Boeing 777-300 via Perth to pick up stranded French nationals in Christchurch before returning to Paris.[442]

On 13 May, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters urged migrant workers who were out of work to go home, stating that New Zealand taxpayers could not afford to support them. Peters confirmed that 50,000 migrant workers had already returned to their home countries after the New Zealand Government made arrangements with embassies to organise repatriation flights for their nationals. According to a declassified official document, there were over 383,000 foreign nationals in New Zealand including students, migrant workers, and partners or dependents of workers as of 30 March.[443][444]

According to a 1 News report on 17 May, there are over than 1,000 Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme workers in New Zealand, mostly from the Pacific Islands. Pacific Response Coordination Team chairman Pakilau Manase Lua has stated that about 1,000 Tongan seasonal workers in NZ are facing financial difficulty due to the loss of work caused by the economic upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.[445]

On 3 June, Radio New Zealand reported that half of the Government's NZ$30 million emergency welfare fund had been spent over a month, with many of the recipients including stranded migrant workers and foreigners who were unable to return to their countries due to the disruption of international travel. Under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act, financial assistance for food, transport, clothing and accommodation is available to anyone regardless of their citizenship. Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare has confirmed that there have been 4,500 requests for emergency assistance from the Otago Region with an unknown number from the Auckland Region. Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has stated that the "labour market test" will be applied on foreign workers once their work visas have expired.[446]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ A probable case is one without a positive laboratory result, but which is treated like a confirmed case based on its exposure history and clinical symptoms.
  2. ^ Zero new cases were reported on 19 May, but four 'historic' cases were added to the total number. These cases were from people aboard the Greg Mortimer who tested positive in Uruguay and returned to New Zealand in April. All four cases were classed as recovered by 19 May.[7]
  3. ^ a b The testing data is reported with prioritised ethnicity. If a person has multiple ethnicities, they are reported only as a single ethnicity with the following order of precedence: Māori, Pacific, Asian, Middle Eastern/Latin American/African, Other, European. This is in contrast to total response ethnicity, where a person with multiple ethnicities is reported under all ethnic groups they identify with.[87]
  4. ^ The date listed is when the case was reported to health authorities, not the date when the case was reported to the public.
  5. ^ The number of active cases is the number of total confirmed and probable cases minus the number of recoveries and deaths.

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External links