New Zealand PM requests to “Stay at Home” ahead of coronavirus lockdown

Cases of the coronavirus in New Zealand crossed the 100 mark this week as the government implemented self-isolation for everyone, with all non-essential services, schools and offices are going to be closed for a month from midnight on Wednesday.

Quick Preventive Measure

New Zealand has lesser infections as compared to many other countries; however, Ardern’s government wants to act fast to curb the outbreak. It was one of the first to force all arriving travelers into self-quarantine and to ban indoor and outdoor gatherings.

Cases in neighboring Australia have surged to 1,886; however, it has still not declared a nationwide lockdown.

“Simplest thing is to stay at home … that’s how we will save lives,” Ardern said during a news conference at parliament.

“The underlying principle of an alert level 4 is to reduce contact between people to the bare minimum,” she said.

Parliament is going to sit on Wednesday to implement the state of emergency and lockdown, she said. The prime minister explained the lockdown would provide the country, which holds about 5 million people, a good chance of defeating the virus; however, it would only work if everyone followed the restrictions.

New Zealand has a total of 155 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, the disease which happens due to the novel coronavirus, with four local transmission cases. It has had no deaths.

Under the lockdown, people are permitted to go out for a walk or take their children out however; they have to keep a distance of 2 meters from others. They can also go to supermarkets. On Tuesday, the office staff was getting ready and preparing to work from home whereas students left their hostels and cafes were shut down.

Domestic airports and other transport services in the region were packed as people were heading home before the lockdown.

People won’t lose their home

The capital of Wellington observed ferry services that were going from the North Island to the South Island were packed, as were supermarkets with people piling up food despite the assurances given by the government that the country will be well supplied.

Retail banks in the country agreed to provide a six-month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and small business customers, according to the finance minister, Grant Robertson, said.

“A six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by COVID-19 will mean people won’t lose their homes as a result of the economic disruption caused by this virus,” Robertson said.

The government and banks would also impose a NZ$6.25 billion ($3.62 billion) business finance guarantee scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, he said. The scheme is going to consist of a limit of NZ$500,000 per loan and is going to apply to firms with a turnover of between NZ$250,000 and NZ$80 million per annum.

The government is going to carry 80% of the credit risk, with the other 20% to be carried by the banks, Robertson said. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) had decided to decrease banks’ core funding ratios to 50% from 75%, further helping banks make credit available.

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