New legal framework for Alert Level 2 to be introduced today

While the Government claims that restrictions under Alert Level 4 and 3 were legal they are still introducing a bill into Parliament today aimed at providing a new law “providing a legal framework for Covid-19 Alert Level 2”.

They say they don’t want to rely on a National State of Emergency for the lower level, but they didn’t back in March when we first went into lockdown in Marchh. See Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice

Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of New Zealand under section 66 of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 on March the 25th 2020 at 12.21pm.

Also, under section 5 of the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006, yesterday I issued an Epidemic Notice, nationwide, to help ensure the continuity of essential Government business due to the unprecedented effects of the global pandemic, COVID-19, which is likely to significantly disrupt essential governmental and business activity in New Zealand.

This Epidemic Notice came into effect today, the 25th of March 2020, just after midnight and it will remain for three months with ongoing review, and from which, now further Epidemic Management Notices and Epidemic Modification Orders can be given…

We went to Alert Level 2 before that, on 21 March, and then to Alert Level 3 on 23 March, before the state of emergency was announced and before the Epidemic Notice was issued.

Things had to be done urgently, but they also should have been done legally.

From the Beehive: Covid-19 response: New legal framework to be debated tomorrow ahead of Alert Level 2

The Government intends to pass the COVID-19 Public Health Response Bill through all stages on Tuesday 12 May so that it can be enacted by Wednesday 13 May.

“As I announced on Friday, the changes will ensure controls on gatherings of people and physical distancing are still enforceable,” Attorney-General David Parker said today.

Enforceability to date has relied on the Epidemic Notice, the Health Act and the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act.

As shown above, apparently not under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act for the first level 2 and 3, and also not under the Epidemic Notice.

“There will be fewer restrictions under Alert Level 2 but those remaining still need to be enforceable. We don’t want these narrower controls to rely on a National State of Emergency. “

This suggests that the first restrictions under Alert Level 2 and 3 were not legally enforceable.

“However, the regulatory backup provided by the new law allows us to address behaviour at Alert Level 2 that is particularly harmful to the public health objective, and to demonstrate to those who are complying voluntarily that non-compliance will not be tolerated,” he said.

“We need the legislation in place before Level 2 starts.

“The Government has assessed there is not time for the usual select committee process but we do want a necessarily brief opportunity for comment on the bill. Therefore we have released a disclosure draft of the Bill to the Opposition and experts, and have invited comment on it by 10am, Tuesday 12 May.

Parliament re-opened last week, and they should have foreseen the need before the last minute (last day). Perhaps the judicial review filed in the High Court last week has prompted an attempt to make the lower alert levels legal.

“I reiterate there has been no gap in the legal underpinning or in the enforcement powers under the notices that have been issued under Level 3 and Level 4. This bill does not retrospectively change them.”

The dates above suggest otherwise, and it also puts into further question the legal underpinning of the enforcement powers for Alert Level 2 (and 3) back in March.

It’s good to see them getting the legal side of the lockdowns tidied up, but Parker shouldn’t have claimed it was fine from the start.

PM declares National State of Emergency to deal with Covid-19

Jacinda Ardern
RT HON JACINDA ARDERN

A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

“Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent the very worst that we’ve seen around the world from happening here,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“As the country moves into Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, at midnight, we need all the tools at our disposal to ensure everyone reduces down contact with one another across the board.

“Through the early and hard measures we’ve taken at the border, using the powers under the Health Act, the signing of Epidemic Notices, and now, being in a State of National Emergency, we have all of the legislative means possible, all the enforcement powers, all the tools we need, at our disposal to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, today’s State of National Emergency declaration allows the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management to direct and coordinate personnel, material and other resources, and provides access to other extra-ordinary powers that will support delivery of an effective and timely response to COVID-19.

While in force, the State of National Emergency will allow the Director and local controllers, as needed, to provide for the:

  • conservation and supply of food, fuel and other essential supplies
  • regulate land, water and air traffic
  • to close roads and public places
  • to evacuate any premises, including any public place
  • and if necessary to exclude people or vehicles from any premises or place.

“Failure of anyone to play their part in coming days will put the lives of others at risk, and there will be no tolerance for that.

“We do not expect to use the full extent of these measures but, as with everything we have done in response to COVID-19, we plan, we prepare, we have in place everything we need to get through.

“For now, I ask that New Zealanders do their part. Stay home, break the chain, save lives,” Jacinda Ardern said.


More detail in Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice

Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of New Zealand under section 66 of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 on March the 25th 2020 at 12.21pm.

This is to manage the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic within New Zealand.

The Minister of Civil Defence took this step because of the unprecedented nature of this global pandemic, and because he considered the response required to combat COVID-19 is of such a degree that it will be beyond the capacity of local Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups to respond to on their own.

This pandemic also requires a significant and coordinated response by and across central and local government.

Also, under section 5 of the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006, yesterday I issued an Epidemic Notice, nationwide, to help ensure the continuity of essential Government business due to the unprecedented effects of the global pandemic, COVID-19, which is likely to significantly disrupt essential governmental and business activity in New Zealand.

This Epidemic Notice came into effect today, the 25th of March 2020, just after midnight and it will remain for three months with ongoing review, and from which, now further Epidemic Management Notices and Epidemic Modification Orders can be given – particularly across local government, immigration and social services – crucial services that now need flexibility to operate due to the effects of an epidemic in our country and an impending lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

At 11.59pm tonight, we move to the highest Alert Level of 4, and we, as a nation, go into self-isolation.

Statement continues…