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COVID-19: New Zealand is now in lockdown

Photo: RNZ

As New Zealand enters the unprecedented four-week COVID-19 lockdown that started at midnight, here's how the country prepared to cope just the day before on March 25.

Ahead of the lockdown, a State of National Emergency has been declared.

As we go head into isolation, confirmed cases of the coronavirus have hit 205. Fifty new cases were announced on Wednesday.

The number of cases is expected to go up, despite the lockdown, before it goes down.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made her final comments to the public before isolation kicks in, aiming to inform and reassure.

But she also had a simple message - "stay home".

"It will break the chain of transmission and it will save lives.

"You are not alone, you will hear us and see us daily, as we guide New Zealand through this period. It won't always be perfect, but the principle of what we're doing is the right one."

  •   •  If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Jacinda, along with a small number of MPs, returned to Parliament to debate and pass much needed legislation to allow the government to effectively deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legislation covers tax, welfare, immigration, voting, health, and more.

But it wasn't just the government trying to get ready for the lockdown.

People seeking clarity over what constituted essential services got some of the answers they were looking for.

Local government was getting ready, tenant groups called for more support for renters, people shared tips for staying connected and how to keep kids happy and healthy.

See all SunLive coverage of COVID-19

Meanwhile, shoppers still stocking up faced one-in, one-out policies in supermarkets, and tech stores reported a run on home office supplies as people prepared to work remotely.

Some headed for coastal baches to hunker down.

Others had worries.

Food banks had been experiencing high demand and were worried about low stocks.

The Royal College of GPs is calling for the rationing of data and phone calls, concerned that increased use was overloading the system, making it harder for patients to contact them and for doctors to reach out to patients.

And scammers and hackers are crafting sophisticated attacks, targeting staff working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With nearly every aspect of life affected by the lockdown, information is being shared left, right and centre to let people know how things will work going forward.

For example, a judge has given clarity for parents with shared custody.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has said people must take sick leave if they are sick and can not work, but employees could not be forced to take annual leave during the isolation period.

And tenants have been told skipping rent isn't an option.

Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles has answered a range of questions about the lockdown and RNZ has answered the questions most commonly plugged into Google.

At this point, for most people where you are tonight is where you have to stay for the next four weeks.

"As we enter into a stage that none of us have experienced before, I want to share a few messages. You are not alone... Success won't be instant... You may not be at work but that does not mean you don't have a job. Your job is to save lives," says Jacinda.

"If you have any questions and you are looking for answers, apply a simple rule - act like you have COVID-19.

"Be kind, stay at home, break the chain."

-RNZ

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