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Government update on COVID-19

This afternoon, I announced that all of New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 4 until 11:59pm on Tuesday 24 August. I wanted to take a minute tonight to explain why it’s so important we take this step to keep everyone safe.
Before I update you on COVID though, I want to touch on today’s news that Sir Michael Cullen, the former deputy Prime Minister and deputy Labour Leader, passed away overnight.
Many of you would have come into contact with Michael during his long involvement with Labour and will remember his commitment and service to the Party over the years. As well as being dedicated to Labour’s mission, Michael was fiercely intelligent, hugely funny and incredibly kind. As I said earlier today, New Zealand is so much the richer - in every sense of the word - for Michael's life. I know he will be greatly missed. My thoughts tonight are with his wife Anne and his children and grandchildren. If you didn’t see it earlier, Grant Robertson gave a moving tribute to Sir Michael at the podium in the Theatrette this afternoon after the COVID announcement, which you can watch here in full.
Grant’s tribute followed our announcement that Alert Level 4 has been extended for all of New Zealand. We’ve always taken the view that when it comes to COVID, we can’t be too careful. Going hard and early to stop the virus is especially important now that we’re dealing with the more infectious Delta variant.
It’s much better to assure ourselves now that there aren’t further cases around New Zealand, rather than allowing the virus to spread easily at a lower alert level. We’ve seen in places like New South Wales just how quickly Delta can spread, and we are determined to do all we can to stop that from happening here.
This means taking extra time at Alert Level 4 to ensure we’re on top of the virus. So this weekend, I’m asking everyone in New Zealand to keep up their efforts and stick to the Alert Level 4 golden rules:
Stay home, unless you are getting a COVID test or vaccine, going to the supermarket, or getting exercise in your neighbourhood.
Wear a face covering when you leave home. Remember, it’s mandatory to wear a mask when you’re visiting essential services like the supermarket and pharmacy, and when on public transport or in taxis.
If you have COVID symptoms or have been at a location of interest on the same day and time as a case, please get a test. You can check the locations of interest here.
Be kind to one another. There’s high demand at testing sites and when calling Healthline, but teams are doing all they can to get through as quickly as possible. Please be patient.
This morning, applications for the Wage Subsidy Scheme also reopened, to protect jobs and keep firms operating as we continue to stay home to fight the virus. Employers anywhere around New Zealand can apply for this if they expect a 40% drop in revenue due to the alert level changes, and can apply for the subsidy here. The Wage Subsidy is not the only financial support we’ve put in place to support people through Alert Level 4 - you can find information on other assistance available, including a tool to check what you’re eligible for, here.
Cabinet will meet again on Monday to review the situation and discuss the next steps in our response. I’ll give an update following this meeting, outlining what this means for you and your family.
For now though, I want to thank you for everything you’ve done so far in our fight against COVID. I know life at Alert Level 4 can be challenging, especially for those of you who are juggling working from home with family commitments, but it will all be worth it in the long term. If we continue working together, I’m confident we can once again crush the curve and come out stronger on the other side.
Until then, stay home and stay safe,
P.S. After a short pause to ensure we could safely operate at Alert Level 4, vaccination centres have reopened. If you’re aged 40 or over, or have underlying health conditions and you haven’t booked your vaccine yet, now’s a great time to do it! You can book your vaccine here.
Authorised by Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern MP, Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

Government update on COVID-19


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