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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Covid-19 lockdown is running "as smoothly as could be expected at this time" and had been a remarkable feat to keep the streets empty, but has called for the names of landlords flouting the rules.
The Government's coronavirus alert level 4 came into effect at 11.59pm yesterday and will be in place for at least four weeks.
Ardern thanked New Zealand's frontline staff, including doctors, nurses, police and firefighters for their efforts, and said they had now been joined by new frontline staff, such as supermarket operators, service centre staff, bank tellers and cleaners.
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She said supermarkets were "generally" orderly and panic-buying seemed to have somewhat subsided.
However, she reminded people to only shop when they needed to, preferably only one person per household.
Ardern had previously worked at a checkout, and she said it was hard to imagine what they had gone through in previous weeks.
And she reiterated that people should act as if they had Covid-19 and to stay in their homes.
"There will be the odd issue here and there," she said, but the country had started well.
PM DEMANDS NAMES OF LANDLORDS
The Prime Minister demanded to know the names of landlords treating tenants poorly during the coronavirus lockdown.
She said it was "obviously frustrating" to hear about cases where tenants weren't being treated with compassion, but most New Zealanders were doing the right thing.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson also clarified that rent increases were now frozen for the next six months.
Landlords cannot kick out tenants except under limited reasons, he said, such as assaults or threats, or damages a property, or if a tenant is 60 days behind in rent payments.
He said feedback from the business community about commercial landlords being inflexible about rent payments, and he urged those landlords to be more flexible.
• Watch Thursday's full media conference here:
$27M BOOST FOR VULNERABLE KIIWIS
Cabinet has approved a $27 million package for social sector groups to help those most vulnerable to deal with the increase in demand for such services during the lockdown.
It would help ensure society's most vulnerable had a place to live and food to eat, and to help those suffering from family violence.
Salvation Army did 3100 parcels last week, with higher demand in Auckland and Northland, she said.
Women's Refuge would also get more funding, and more shelters for victims will be made available, she said.
Asked about price gouging, Ardern said Minister Kris Faafoi had already sought assurances from supermarkets that they would not engage in such behaviour.
"That is the degree we are willing to go to ... to ensure New Zealanders are being treated fairly."
$1.5B PAID TO WORKERS SO FAR
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said as at 9am this morning, $1.5 billion had already been paid out under the wage subsidy scheme for 244,887 workers; 72,913 applications had been paid out.
He said officials had worked around the clock to process the applications.
The scheme was available to all businesses, he said.
It is designed for employers to make their "best endeavours" to pay workers 80% of their normal wage, and he urged businesses to walk to banks and workers in an effort to prevent layoffs.
ROUTE TO AUSTRALIA OPEN
Jacinda Ardern said the 109 Kiwis on a cruise ship in Perth could still get home using commercial Air NZ flight, even though those flights were not as frequent as normal.
She said Virgin Australia had approached the Government about staff meeting capacity issues in call centres.
Businesses were offering help and support, and she had appointed former Air NZ chief executive Rob Fyfe to work with Police Commissioner Mike Bush to coordinate private sector help during the lockdown.
- NZ Herald and RNZ