New Zealand’s State of National Emergency lifted

Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller.

The State of National Emergency across New Zealand has been lifted and a National Transition Period is now in place as the country prepares to move to COVID-19 Alert Level 2.                              

The State of National Emergency was issued on 25 March as the country entered COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown and the seven-day state was extended six times.

“This move does not signal that New Zealanders should stop being vigilant in protecting themselves and others from the virus. It is essential we all follow the alert level requirements to ensure we do not lose the gains we have made,” says Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare.

“With fewer restrictions in place as we move to Alert Level 2 on Thursday, and the decrease in the numbers of COVID-19 cases, it is now the appropriate time to lift the State of National Emergency and move into a National Transition Period.

He says putting a National Transition Period in place will support a nationally consistent and coordinated approach to civil defence emergency management activities, including providing for the conservation and supply of food, fuel and other essential supplies

It also includes directing people to stop any activity that may cause, or substantially contribute to the consequences of, the spread of COVID-19

Police can also exercise powers during the transition period.

Peeni says a National Transition Period supports a move from an emergency response into the initial recovery phase and provides the National Recovery Manager – the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management Sarah Stuart-Black – and others access to special powers designed to assist with recovery.

The notice covers all of New Zealand, including the Chatham Islands, Stewart Island, and other offshore islands, and came into force at 12:21pm on Wednesday 13 May 2020. It will remain in place for 90 days unless extended or terminated earlier.

Enforceability of alert levels to date has relied on the Epidemic Notice, the Health Act and the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act. A new legal framework for COVID-19 is being passed through Parliament today in preparation for the move to Alert Level 2.

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