It was announced earlier today that New Zealand's Covid-19 Alert level has been raised from Level 2 (Reduce) to Level 3 (Restrict). This will be in effect for the next 48 hours before rising to Level 4 (Eliminate) - the highest level in the current alert system - on Wednesday 25 March 2020.
At Level 4, the country goes into a state of lockdown. Read on to find out more about what this means and what to expect.
Here is a summary of what it means at each alert level:
At Level 2, the virus was thought to be "contained but risk of community transmission is growing". Measures such as restrictions on mass gatherings, alternative work arrangements, physical distancing and border entry measures were tightened. In the past couple of weeks, you may have been asked to start working from home. Concerts or events that you were planning to attend will have been cancelled. Recent travellers will have had to face self-isolation or quarantine upon return to New Zealand. Elderly people have been asked to self-isolate as they are the most vulnerable group.
Currently at Level 3, there is a "higher level of risk that the virus is not contained. There is community transmission or multiple clusters of breakout." You can expect even tighter measures to be in place to prevent further spread of the virus. Public venues such as gyms, swimming pools and libraries etc. will be closed if they are not already. Non-essential businesses will start to close. If you are not already working from home, it is likely that you will be asked to do so. Some areas with cases of the virus will have restricted access. Healthcare treatment for non-acute cases will be postponed and reprioritised.
On Wednesday 25 March 2020, the alert will be upgraded to a Level 4. New Zealand has 48 hours to get the necessary preparation and planning in place before we go into "lockdown". Once this kicks in, people are requested to remain at home. Schools will be closed. Only essential businesses such as supermarkets, pharmacies and clinics will remain open during this period. Travel will be limited. Read HERE to learn more about what are considered "essential businesses" that will remain open.
While the measures sound drastic, with the reported number of virus cases growing quickly (latest count as at time of writing is 102 confirmed cases), preventing the spread of the virus is no doubt the focus of the government. It would be wise to get ahead of the spread especially before the normal winter cold/flu season kicks off which will put further pressure and strain on the already limited medical resources and the wellbeing Kiwis.
On a lighter note, for most of us, here is what to expect for the next month:
You will get more out of your mortgage or rent as you spend more time at home
Your cooking skills will improve as restaurants, takeaways and fast-food will be closed
Or perhaps, you will lose weight as you eat less and avoid the crowded supermarkets
You will have a new appreciation for fully stocked aisles in the supermarket
You will deepen your relationship with your family and/or flatmates
We will be back to update the list above as the lockdown unfolds.
For now, take care and load up on food that will build up your immunity. Be kind and patient to others around. Together we will overcome COVID-19 in 2020.
"God defend our free land"
More information can be found on the New Zealand government's official website on COVID-19.
Visit - https://covid19.govt.nz/