Measures “to protect New Zealanders from COVID-19” and PM statement

Beehive release that details the measures being put in place “to protect New Zealanders from COVID-19”.

  • Every person entering New Zealand from anywhere in the world will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, excluding the Pacific[i]. ‘
  • These restrictions will all be reviewed in 16 days’ time.
  • Existing travel ban retained for China and Iran
  • Cruise ships banned from coming to New Zealand, until at least 30 June 2020
  • Strict new health measures at the border for people departing to the Pacific
  • A range of measures to assist those in self-isolation to be announced next week
  • Government will work closely with the aviation sector to encourage airlines to remain active in New Zealand, limit impacts on the tourism sector and exporters
  • Directive on mass gatherings to be announced early next week

[i] The Pacific is defined as the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu & Wallis and Futuna.


Prime Minister’s statement

Good afternoon

The full Cabinet met this afternoon to make a range of significant decisions to further protect the health of New Zealanders and reduce the threat of transmission of COVID-19 in New Zealand.

First I want to provide some context to our decisions.

New Zealand has to date, relative to other counties, a small number of cases. We have successfully managed to contact trace for every one of those cases, and are in the process of doing so for our latest one. This has been a critical part of our response.

Secondly, our smaller number of cases has helped us to manage them in the right place, and with the right support. The majority of our cases have not required our hospital system to care for them.

The key continues to be leaving our hospital system for those who need it most.

All of this points to one strategy which has guided our decision making – spread the cases, and flatten the curve.

It is not realistic for New Zealand to have only a handful of cases.

The international evidence proves that is not realistic, and so we must plan and prepare for more cases.

But, the scale of how many cases we get and how fast we get them is something we should do as much as we can to slow. That is how we ensure health services are there for those who need them most.

That’s why we must go hard, and go early, and do everything we can to protect New Zealanders health.

That is exactly why, to tackle this global pandemic, Cabinet made far reaching and unprecedented decisions today.

As of midnight Sunday every person entering New Zealand, including returning New Zealand citizens and residents, will be required to enter self-isolation for 14 days. Everybody.

The Pacific are exempted from this measure, though anyone from these countries will be required to automatically self–isolate should they exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival in New Zealand.

These restrictions will all be reviewed in 16 days’ time.

Alongside Israel, and a small number of Pacific Islands who have effectively closed their border, this decision will mean New Zealand will have the widest ranging and toughest border restrictions of any country in the world.

We are also encouraging New Zealanders to avoid all non-essential travel overseas. This help reduces the risk of a New Zealand bringing COVID-19 back with them.

We accept that for New Zealanders currently overseas this is a stressful time and we encourage any New Zealander needing consular assistance to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In addition to restrictions on air travel we are also taking firm measures on cruise ships. As of midnight tonight we are issuing a directive to all cruise ships not to come to New Zealand until at least 30 June 2020, at which time the directive will be reviewed.

I want to be very clear – these measures are about people, not products. They do not apply to cargo ships or cargo planes or to marine or air crew, and we will be working to ensure we keep sea and air freight routes open for imports and exports.

In short, no one needs to conduct a run on their supermarket. It’s worth remembering that we’ve had travel restrictions on China for over a month, and those supply routes continue.

We are mindful that some items that come into New Zealand travel via passenger flights. That’s why support, where needed, will be provided to ensure that essential air freight like pharmaceuticals continue to be shipped into New Zealand.

We did not take these decisions lightly. We know these travel restrictions will place significant strain on the aviation industry, and we anticipate some routes will reduce or cease for a period of time.

As such the Government will work closely with the aviation sector to encourage and support airlines to remain active in New Zealand so that we can re-bound from the restrictions quickly and not have significant impacts on our tourism sector, exporters, and economy.

In addition to these measures the Finance Minister will also announce an economic response including the business continuity package on Tuesday.

We are also stepping up our actions at the border as a key departure route to the Pacific.  New Zealand has a huge sense of responsibility to support our Pacific neighbours.

As such strict new border exit measures for people travelling to the Pacific will be put in place and include:

  • No travel for people who have travelled outside of New Zealand in the past 14 days,
  • No travel for close or casual contacts of a confirmed case.
  • No travel for anyone who is symptomatic
  • Health assessment including temperature check

Taken as a whole, the border measures we are taking today will mean significantly more people will enter self-isolation, and supporting and facilitating that to occur is critical.

We are already registering all travellers into New Zealand, and Healthline is monitoring the self-isolation process.

Today we instructed officials to step up enforcement of self isolation through measures such as spot checks. It is worth mentioning though, to date more than 10,500 people are or have successfully self-isolated in New Zealand. People know that it’s in the best interest of their community and they’re pulling together to look after one another.

After all, the combination of restricting the virus coming here and isolating it when it does are two of the most important steps we can take to avoid community outbreak.

Given self-isolation is so important, we want to make it as easy as possible.

As such the Government will be introducing a range of measures to assist with self-isolation.

Expect more on this early next week.

We will also increase community support to those unable to support themselves in isolation.

In addition to these measures the Finance Minister will also announce a business continuity package next week, the Health Minister will announce a suite of additional health measures to scale up the responsiveness of our health system to the virus and a public information campaign will be launched.

Ultimately though, the best protection for the economy is containing the virus. A widespread outbreak will hurt our economy far more in the long run than short term measures to prevent a mass outbreak occurring.

These measures, while disruptive, are needed to make the space we need as a nation to prepare and manage the spread of COVID-19.

We all have obligations to limit the spread of the virus and basic health measures is are the heart of that.

However in order to limit the risk of community outbreak when people are in close proximity to each other we will also be announcing further guidelines on mass gatherings. For now, Pasifika and the 15 March Memorial have been cancelled.

The guidance we will be developing more broadly on mass gatherings will be based on the following criteria:

  • Large numbers of people in close proximity
  • Events where people are more likely to be in physical contact
  • Events where participants have travelled from overseas
  • And non-ticketed events, where for instance there is no seat allocation making it difficult to contact trace

Again, advice and criteria on mass gatherings will be released next week.  For those who need more immediate advice, they should contact their public health unit.

In conclusion, we have two choices as a nation. One is to let COVID-19 roll on, and brace.

The second is to go hard on measures to keep it out, and stamp it out – not because we can stop a global pandemic from reaching us, but because it is in our power to slow it down.

I make no apology for choosing the second path. New Zealanders public health comes first. If we have that, we can recover from the impacts on the economy, the impacts on tourism, and the impacts on our airline.

Finally, this is an unprecedented time. While we don’t have community transmission here, now is the time to prepare. And we can all play a role in that. So here’s my request to New Zealanders:

  1. Wash your hands
  2. If you don’t need to travel overseas, then don’t. Enjoy your own back yard for a time.
  3. Wash your hands
  4. If you’re sick, stay home.
  5. If you sneeze, do it into your elbow
  6. Wash your hands.
  7. Stop handshakes, hugs, and hongi – I know this is counter to who we are as a nation, but the best thing we can do right now to show love and affection to one another, is to switch to the east coast wave.
  8. Please be mindful of the older citizens in your life. Check in on them, but if you’re sick, keep your distance

Finally, we are a tough resilient people. We have been here before. But our journey will depend on how we work together. We are taking every measure we need as a government, and we ask that you do to.

We all have a role to play. Look out for your neighbour, look out for your family. Look out for your friends.

Leave a comment

47 Comments

  1. Inevitable: Super Rugby to be suspended

    Sanzaar says Super Rugby will be off for the “foreseeable future”, after PM Ardern announced strict new self-isolation rules.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120286569/coronavirus-super-rugby-to-be-suspended-after-weekend-games

    The Highlanders are playing the Jaguares in Buenos Aries today, and won’t get back into New Zealand until tomorrow, so will have to self isolate for 14 days.

    ODT: Highlanders to self-isolate, at least one game to be cancelled

    The Highlanders are set to be out of action, likely for two weeks, with the team forced into self-isolation after returning from Argentina.

    https://www.odt.co.nz/sport/rugby/highlanders/highlanders-self-isolate-least-one-game-be-cancelled

    Reply
  2. Kiwis in Melbourne for Grand Prix scrambling to make it home before travel restrictions kick in

    There will be a lot of people in similar situations around the world.

    I wonder how much spread of the virus will happen as people rush to return home.

    Reply
  3. NZ First MP won’t be tested

    Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin will no longer be tested for coronavirus, despite meeting with a now-infected Australian politician.

    On Saturday, a spokesman for Martin said she was feeling fine and showing no symptoms of the virus.

    “She will continue to self-isolate for a further seven days until next Friday, when it will be a fortnight since attending a meeting with Australian Minister Peter Dutton,” Martin’s spokesman said.

    “Martin took medical advice today [Saturday] and was advised she did not need to be tested for coronavirus as she has no symptoms but that she should self-isolate as a precaution.”

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120281722/coronavirus-tracey-martin-will-not-be-tested-despite-meeting-with-infected-politician

    It seems nuts that Martin isn’t being tested as a precaution.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  15th March 2020

      It does seem odd unless timing of Dutton’s illness rules it out. Symptomless transmission seems well established.

      Reply
    • NOEL

       /  15th March 2020

      PG there are two measures used for self isolation.
      One is epidemiological and the other is clinical or both.
      As she was quarantined on epidemiological evidence alone it would be a wasted test at this point.

      Reply
      • For her testing could be a waste of time, but I’d have thought that it would be important to know if she had the virus so anyone she had contact with could be checked or at least alerted.

        Reply
        • NOEL

           /  15th March 2020

          Currently there is no strong evidence that asymptomatic people pass on the virus.
          Most countries don’t bother using the test on those people except it seems if you are the President of the United States,.

          Reply
  4. duperez

     /  15th March 2020

    Heather du Plessis-Allan:

    “Let’s hope the advice behind this decision was sound. Because if it wasn’t, and the decision is largely a political one designed to make the PM look like a strong leader, then the country is paying a huge price for that.”

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12316708

    Let’s hope that advice behind any decision is sound. Maybe strong leadership is listening and primarily acting on advice from the likes of du Plessis-Allan and Mike Hosking. They’ll now what’s best.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  15th March 2020

      I doubt anyone knows what’s best. Too many unknowns in too wide a field of impacts.

      Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient evidence. Probably otherwise known as luck.

      Reply
      • artcroft

         /  15th March 2020

        well said.

        Reply
      • Duker

         /  15th March 2020

        Not so. Pandemics follow a similar pattern, last WHO pandemic was only just over 10 years ago ( 2009 Swine flu) and the stages are well known , the severity is more similar than you would think.
        This is why Obama had a small section of the vast White House bureaucracy to coordinate policy, ie not the West Wing officials

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_flu_pandemic This had between 150K – 500k fatalities world wide

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  15th March 2020

          There are clearly major differences in detail and scope.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  15th March 2020

            Peak comes quicker , no vaccine. Even the annual ‘flu season vary in severity, we just have forgotten how bad the swine flu was, but even if its 2 x that of Swine flu its a ‘similar pandemic’ and a long way short of Spanish flu of 1918

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  15th March 2020

              Current estimates have the mortality rate 100x swine flu.

            • Duker

               /  15th March 2020

              All guesses. No definitive number yet nor likely to be, even now varies enormously between say S Korea and Italy who have roughly same number of cases but different death rates
              many people who definitely have CV-19 seem to have mild symptoms , so plenty of others wont be having ‘the test’ even though similar symptoms.

      • duperez

         /  15th March 2020

        I don’t disagree AW. When it gets to unknowns in wide fields of impacts, or anything for that matter, the rule is ‘I know best, I don’t trust anyone ahead of me.’

        du Plessis-Allan has to get in the cheap shot, the shit shot that the decision about COVID-19 being about making the PM look a strong leader. A leading media commentator being in that ballpark underlines how trust and stability get to be on a sandy base.

        I appreciate that her job is to be controversial and to give her opinion. Our only chance to reply or counter is in places like this. Our opinion is as valid and worthy as hers.

        My view is that laying the upset, the turmoil, the confusion, the myriad of difficulties, the shattering of plans and dreams, in sum the ‘huge cost,’ at the feet of decisions designed to make the PM look like a strong leader, is scummy.

        Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  15th March 2020

      Dupe, you forgot Sean Plunkett and the experts who ring talkback radio in the middle of the night.

      Reply
  5. lurcher1948

     /  15th March 2020

    People from the right ie Hosking or HDPA will always criticize our PM Jacinda Ardern it’s in their rightwing blood.Jacinda Ardern is damned whether she does right or wrong always from the rightwing blogs nearby.Keep safe and healthy out there folks

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  15th March 2020

      Some people, Lurch. Just like some blame Trump. People’s lives are at stake here so pity the politicians who have to make the calls and hope they get it right.

      Reply
    • Ray

       /  15th March 2020

      Definitely some truth to this, people saying the PM should cancel the memorial service and clamp down, are now complaining she has been too harsh.
      On the other hand Labour was polling on Friday and presumably got the message that they looked weak and were heading for electoral disaster, hence the moves yesterday.
      Next move, delayed election…you heard it here first!

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  15th March 2020

        No they didnt . Similar restrictions on flights done by many countries , US and Israel last week, other in Europe as well.
        Delayed election was first suggested in Herald yesterday by Fran O’Sullivan, so no you arent first.
        Its end of September some time away and so much of campaigning is online anyway, so dont think some rallys will be missed – except by Trump in US who likes to boost about huuuuuuge crowds

        Reply
    • Corky

       /  15th March 2020

      Er, Lurchy…don’t be despondent. Here’s some maths to prove nothing is impossible.

      Jim Anderton – Bob Parker.
      Donald Trump – Hillary.
      Simon – Jacinda????

      People will look at Simon and see nothing special. So they will probably stick with Jacinda. They have enough problems to deal with, without adding another unknown quantity ( Simon).

      Reply
  6. duperez

     /  15th March 2020

    Do measures to protect New Zealanders from COVID-19 and its effects include sending people in white coats to tend hosts of radio stations who clearly need help? One I just heard used the words, ‘cuckoo,’ ‘la la’ and ‘batshite crazy.’ At least that might indicate recognition of there being problems.

    The other bit suggested that everything the PM is doing, does, is for grandstanding purposes and that is the case in this instance and that she doesn’t understand the ramifications of decisions made.

    Mind you, it was on newstalkzb and it was Martin Devlin. And it did get turned off.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  15th March 2020

      Why was he tested in Queensland and if he had symptoms why was he then allowed on a plane? Or is Australia testing everyone from Europe?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  15th March 2020

        AFAICS on a quick scan Queensland only tests people feeling unwell who have been in an infected country. That certainly makes this case look irresponsible.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  15th March 2020

          The article notes the result hasn’t been confirmed by our Ministry of Health yet. It’s also odd that somebody stupid enuf to do this seems to have gone straight to the media to advertise themselves. If it’s the real deal it shows how porous our borders are to infected idiots or liars.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  15th March 2020

            Presumably he had enough conscience to tell the cafe and hotel either of which could have alerted the media.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  15th March 2020

              Now our border/health agencies have another question to ask all arrivals! Have you had a CV-19 test & not yet been notified of the result?

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  15th March 2020

          The Herald story says he had no symptoms but was tested anyway since coming from France. NZ just asked if he had been in Italy Korea or China.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  15th March 2020

            Who knows? The Herald & Stuff stories differ…

            “I’m surprised and disappointed that he took the flight,” Ministry of Health Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said

            Reynaud was identified quickly after his Australian doctor alerted New Zealand authorities of the test result.

            “Our public health authorities immediately kicked into action to find that person, and to identify and follow up any contacts,” Bloomfield said.

            “The man is now symptom-free, and remains in self-isolation with his partner and another family member. They are both well and working closely with public health staff.

            “He does not require hospital-level or other medical treatment.”

            He was showing symptoms prior to being tested in Australia, but was asymptomatic by the time he arrived in New Zealand.

            Bloomfield said public health staff were checking with their Australian counterparts to see what advice Reynaud was given before flying to New Zealand.”

            https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120290336/coronavirus-tourist-learnt-he-tested-positive-while-eating-at-wellington-cafe

            Seemed a bit odd to me that the Herald story said he arrived back in Townsville last Tuesday & was then tested by Queensland Health authorities on Thursday for no reason other than he had returned from France?

            Reply
    • David

       /  15th March 2020

      The guy should be charged. What an idiot he could have infected hundreds.
      On the good news front Trump has tested negative for coronavirus.

      Reply
    • I’m flabbergasted that someone waiting for the results of a Covid-19 test would fly to another country and carry on as if nothing was happening before getting the test results.

      Reply
      • lurcher1948

         /  15th March 2020

        A year in prison should wake this idiot Australian up”solitary”

        Reply
    • Conspiratoor

       /  15th March 2020

      “Townsville Dance Teacher Andre Reynaud”

      Apologies for the distraction but I’ve been to Townsville and folks there don’t dance …at least not in a way you or me would recognise as conventional dance moves. As oxymorons go this one is up there

      Reply
  7. Getting close to home.

    A cruise ship that visited Dunedin yesterday is being held off the coast of New Zealand with at least one suspected case of coronavirus on board.

    Three passengers on the Golden Princess cruise berthed have been quarantined by the ship’s doctor.

    One of the three has developed symptoms of Covid-19 and is being treated as a suspected case, the Canterbury District Health Board says.

    The person is being tested with their results due tomorrow.

    The ship arrived in Akaroa Harbour this morning.

    https://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/coronavirus-ship-visited-dunedin-quarantined

    Reply
  8. David

     /  15th March 2020

    Some quite remarkable differences in numbers:
    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

    France and Germany have roughly the same amount of infections but 91 dead in France V 9 in Germany. UK, Norway and Sweden are roughly the same but deaths are 21, 3 and 2 respectively.
    Italy is making the whole worlds stats look bad with their death rate appalling and many times worse than China,s.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  15th March 2020

      Italy and China account for 2/3 of the deaths in round figures (100,000 out of 156,00)

      Reply
      • David

         /  15th March 2020

        Italy is an 8% death rate !
        South Korea .8%

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  15th March 2020

          Not 100,000 deaths, huge exaggerating

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  15th March 2020

            Oops, mea culpa. I meant that they had 100,000 of the 156,000 CASES. My mistake. I wish that we could EDIT.

            Reply
  9. Gezza

     /  15th March 2020

    8th case now, counting that Aussie …

    New Zealand has its eighth confirmed case of coronavirus, the Ministry of Health confirms.

    The eighth case a woman in her 30s from Denmark travelling in New Zealand, the Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said. The woman arrived in Auckland via Doha on flight QR920 on March 10, and then flew to Christchurch on Jetstar flight JQ225.

    A man in 60s from Australia was the seventh case, Bloomfield said.

    He arrived on Air New Zealand flight NZ828 from Brisbane in Wellington on March 14.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120289851/live-coronavirus-update-from-ministry-of-health

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  15th March 2020

      Buying time gives chance for the science to catch up. Good for health, bad for jobs.

      Reply

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