Call to reduce contact; 70+ to stay home; Limit domestic travel
By: Gurbir Singh
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called upon New Zealanders to “be strong, be kind, and unite against Covid-19.”
In her first televised address directly to the nation today, Prime Minister announced an alert system for Covid-19 applicable to the whole country.
“There are four levels to the alert system. At each level there are things we need you to do, to keep you safe. And there are things the government will do too,” she said.
New Zealand is currently at Alert level Two “where the disease is contained but the risks are growing because we have more cases. This is when we move to reduce our contact with one another. We increase our border measures, and we cancel events. This is also the level where we ask people to work differently if they can, and cancel unnecessary travel.”
Outlining the measures already in place for level two and more that were being added now, the PM called upon the 70-plus to stay at home. In New Zealand, there are 528,000 people in this age group.
“Today we are asking people over 70 years of age,
or people who have compromised immunity or have underlying respiratory
conditions to stay at home as much as they can.
“That means we need friends, family and neighbours to support our older New Zealanders and people who may be in this group by doing simple things like keeping in contact and dropping off food or other supplies. And when you do, make sure you are not sick, that you are using good handwashing practices, and keeping your distance.
“We also need everyone to start working differently. Many offices have plans for workers to work from home. Others have staggered meal breaks or shift based working. We are now asking you to implement these plans.”
Prime Minister Ardern also appealed everyone to limit their domestic travel to contain the spread of virus.
“Every unnecessary movement gives Covid-19 a chance to spread.
“We are asking that you limit your movement around the country. This will help us track and contain any spread of COVID-19. That means cutting non-essential domestic travel.
“We have to focus on one simple goal – to slow down Covid-19.
“Slowing it down, means not having one big tidal wave of cases, but instead, smaller waves – groups of cases that we can manage properly as they arise. That means we reduce the impact on health, on jobs and on our economy. Some countries have successfully managed to do this –but it does mean we have to be ready to step up our action when we need to.”
Elaborating on each level of the alert systems, the PM said “at each level there are things you need to do,to keep safe.”
Alert Level Three is where the disease is increasingly difficult to contain. This is where we restrict our contact by stepping things up again. We close public venues and ask non-essential businesses to close.
Alert Level Four is where we have sustained transmission. This is where we eliminate contact with each other altogether. We keep essential services going but ask everyone to stay at home until COVID-19 is back under control.
“We will use this alert system every time we update our cases, so you’ll know if the status in your area has gone up, or down, or stayed the same. And what you’ll need to do.
“Today I am confirming that New Zealand is at alert level two. That means the risk of community transmission is growing, and so to stay ahead and reduce the chances of the wave growing, we need to step things up.”
With regard to schools and education facilities, the PM confirmed at this stage, there was no move to close schools.
“Sending children home at this stage though, doesn’t necessarily reduce transmission in the community, but I can assure you we are constantly monitoring these settings to keep children safe.”
She called upon New Zealanders to “be strong, be kind, and unite against COVID-19” and stay away from misinformation. All the advice from the government is available at www.covid19.govt.nz
“For now, I ask that New Zealand does what we do so well. We are a country that is creative, practical, and community minded. We may not have experienced anything like this in our lifetimes, but we know how to rally and we know how to look after one another, and right now what could be more important than that.”