PM: Only use car for doctor and supermarket visits

People should only use their car for supermarket shopping and to visit a doctor during the coronavirus lockdown, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

And she had a message for anyone who socialised outside their self-isolation bubble: "Stop you are putting people's lives at risk".

Ardern made the comments at a media briefing this afternoon, as the country was in the second day of a lockdown for at least four weeks.

She said young people need to make sure they are not a chain of transmission and implored those ignoring the rules to stop putting people's lives at risk.

Whenever people have to use their car, they should try and stay local too, she said.

"Stay local, and stay apart. I do not want to see the scene of Bondi beach in New Zealand."

The popular Sydney beach has been closed after many people flocked there despite restrictions.

Ardern again warned that more Covid-19 cases are expected - they will continue to rise for at least 10 days or more.

She is expecting the rises before then to be "steep" and urged Kiwis to follow the rules - or that 10 days might extend out further.

"Please stay home, break the chain and save lives," Ardern said.

Bondi Beach in Sydney had to be closed to stop mass gatherings. Photo: Getty Images
Bondi Beach in Sydney had to be closed to stop mass gatherings. Photo: Getty Images
Asked about shops that are still open, despite the lockdown, Ardern again asked reporters to provide her with the details of the businesses that are breaking the rules.

She said police are looking to "beef up" their patrols of areas where rules may be broken.

The border still presents the biggest risk to New Zealand that the Government needed to manage.

Ardern said the Government continues to advise people against long term travel - "stay home, and stay local".

On Kiwis living in Australia, she said they continue to be excluded from Covid-19 subsidies there.

The Prime Minister said its an issue that she will continue to raise, given Australians here are getting New Zealand Government subsidies.

"Look after your employees," was her message to bosses and employers.

Watch Friday's full media briefing here

WAGE SUBSIDY SCHEME

The wage subsidy scheme the Government launched to help coronavirus-hit workers could cost as much as $12 billion.

"The pandemic has moved fast," Finance Minister Grant Robertson told the media briefing this afternoon.

Robertson said the Government will make further moves to cushion the impact from businesses.

This includes the current sick leave scheme is being folded into the wage subsidy scheme to prevent "double-dipping".

Employers are still expected to pay their employers 80% - but all workers now must receive the full value of the subsidy, Robertson said.

The Government is also requiring employers to keep employees on their books for the entire wage subsidy period.

The scheme's cost will now cost as much as $12 billion and is being run in a 'high trust model'.

Firms that have received the subsidy will soon be published, Robertson said.

The Prime Minister was joined by Finance Minister Grant Robertson today.
The Prime Minister was joined by Finance Minister Grant Robertson today.
So far, $2.7 billion has been paid out to 428,000 workers. Close to 58,700 of those payments were to self-employed people.

Robertson also told employers they needed to pass on the money from the wage subsidy - they could face consequences if they did not.

"Everyone who is shut down is eligible for this scheme."

Robertson said "most" employers who have applied for the scheme have done so in good faith, but  "one or two" have been problematic.

He said not too many businesses were double dipping, when it comes to the sick leave and the wage subsidy.

He reiterated that New Zealand was "clearly in challenging times" and  encouraged landlords to act within the best interest of all of New Zealand.

MILLIONS OF MASKS

The Prime Minister gave an update on personal protection equipment (PPEs) used by health professionals on the frontlines.

This comes after some nurses have threatened to stop working, fearing a lack of equipment will expose them to the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Ardern said over the past few days, the Government has been talking about personal protection equipment for medical staff.

District Health Boards hold 5.1 million masks and there is a reserve of 18 million masks, she said.

Four million masks will be provided to the health sector and a further four million would be made available for non-health workers also.

The Ministry of Health is compiling a list as to who gets priority for the masks.

Ardern said there is still work to be done when it comes to the distribution of PPEs.

Earlier today, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told reporters: "All stones are being turned over to make sure there are enough PPEs for all healthcare workers in New Zealand."

 

 

Comments

Frankly I, like many have had enough of the Ardern lectures. She wasn't too worried about "saving lives" a month ago while many were seeing what what happening in the rest of the world and asking why NZ still had an open border and were not testing at airports. Ardern was too busy playing it all down, so she could prepare for another shot in the limelight at the one year anniversary of the Australian terroists actions, an anniversary that nobody else wanted to have. If she had acted in NZ interests a month ago, Tourism would have taken a hit, but at least the rest of NZ would have managed to stay afloat. But thanks to her inaction we are all going to sink...
Self isolation, without blanket testing, just means many healthy people could be isolated with an infected person. Will Ardern be dishing out the 'hugs' then...

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