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Going to the bach? You have until 11.59pm to get there, Civil Defence says

With all of New Zealand entering lockdown at midnight tonight, Civil Defence says Kiwis have until 11.59pm to decide where they will spend the next month.

A historic coastal New Zealand bach Source: istock.com

It comes as a national state of emergency has been declared in New Zealand today as the number of new coronavirus cases has risen by 50. It brings the total number of Covid-19 cases to 205.

So far, community transmission has been confirmed in four cases. 

A Covid-19 national response spokesperson told 1 NEWS the reason the Government gave more than 48 hours’ notice of moving to Alert Level four was so that people could make plans for where they needed to be by 11.59PM tonight, in order to self-isolate for at least the next four weeks or until the alert level changed.

"Non-essential travel isn’t allowed from midnight tonight under Alert Level four. This would include travelling between cities for an "early" school holiday.

"Travelling to and from from a permanent home to a holiday home location would also be contrary to the aim of reducing contacts between people and the potential for community transmission," the spokesperson said.

Civil Defence said anyone who was considering going to a holiday home for part of the lockdown would need to do so by midnight tonight. 

“If someone is going to a different city tonight then that will be their home for the next four weeks,” says Anthony Frith, Communications Manager for the National Emergency Agency.

“If you are going to your bach then you have until tonight to get there, what we are doing is we are trying to stop the virus from going to one place to the other.

“A lot of things that are a part of the Kiwi lifestyle will have to be put on hold and people will have to get used to that in the next four weeks," he told 1 NEWS.

Nationwide state of emergency declared in New Zealand as coronavirus cases rise by 50

Mr Frith said people would face a number of unique situations over lockdown but the main goal is for “Kiwis to stay in one place for the next four weeks”.

“There could be hundreds, if not thousands of hypothetical scenarios but we want to stop the spread of this virus,” he says. 

The directive comes as school holidays have been brought forward by The Ministry of Eduction and travel to other parts of the country have been halted.

Holidays will now begin from Monday 30 March to Tuesday 14 April inclusive, so that they are completed within the month-long period of Alert Level 4.

Yesterday, the deadline for domestic travel around New Zealand was extended until midnight Friday, to allow Kiwis to get home for the Covid-19 lockdown.

Children of parents with shared custody arrangements can travel between households amid the nationwide lockdown provided they are in the same community, the Family Court has said.

Sarah Stuart-Black, director of Civil Defence Emergency Management, announced the state of emergency had been declared today at 12.21pm by Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare.

Ms Stuart-Black said the state of national emergency provides access to powers that might normally not be available.

Those powers include the closing of roads, stopping people from doing activities that may contribute to the emergency, excluding people from places and prohibiting or regulating traffic.

“This declaration of a state of national emergency ensures we have that we have all of the legislative means possible, all of the enforcement powers, all of the tools that we need at our disposal to combat the spread of Covid-19,” said Ms Stuart-Black. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has warned New Zealanders today that enforcement will be used as the country heads into lockdown to tackle the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus.